A media release about a study into female pay negotiations arrived in my inbox last week, but I’m just getting to it now (I’m not sure if any news organisations picked it up): Female hagglers ‘less likeable’:
Women who negotiate on their salaries are viewed as competent but less likeable in the workplace, according to UniSA research.
Co-Director of UniSA’s Centre for Human Resource Management, Professor Carol Kulik, says ‘best practice’ negotiation strategies which work for men frequently backfire for female employees and can damage their relationships with employers.
This really pisses me off. Months before the global financial crisis, I tried to negotiate a pay rise in line with CPI, since I didn’t get anything the year before. I got an extra thousand bucks (woop-de-doo) and the silent treatment from my (male) boss for the next few weeks because I was being ‘troublesome’. (We’re prevented from collective bargaining – or even telling our workmates what we’re getting paid.)
Anyway, back to the study. Bosses think women who negotiate pay rises are “less likeable”, no doubt because he has the shits that he didn’t win the pay rise game. But he doesn’t think men who negotiate pay rises are less likeable. Sounds like the boss has a problem with sexism to me. (And I’m referring to the boss as a he, since that’s been the case in every place I’ve worked. Female middle managers, sure, but ultimately it’s a man you have to beg for more money from.)
“Consequently, the woman who successfully negotiates favourable outcomes for herself may be perceived as competent, but she is also likely to encounter a backlash and be perceived as less likeable than a man engaging in the same behaviours.
“Competent women are often viewed as less friendly, helpful, sincere and trustworthy, but more hostile, selfish, devious and quarrelsome – not the perceptions you want your boss to have of you!”
No, it’s not the perception you want your boss to have of you, but if he’s having a widdle sulk because you negotiated a pay rise, then he’s clearly not professional enough to be the boss.
Prof Kulik says this has a long term cost for the woman, because likeability is an important component of leadership potential. She says women can avoid this situation by carefully framing their requests to avoid being perceived as “pushy” and by managing the negotiation process.
Yet again, women have to change their behaviour. And it probably won’t get you a pay rise anyway.
And here’s the bit that should be higher up:
Organisations also have a role in creating an environment that does not punish women who choose to negotiate.