Gender Pay Gap: How Negotiation Can Help Close It

Contributor: Tanimola Sheriff Olanrewaju, Content Developer Intern, Abira Consulting


The gender pay gap is a persistent issue that continues to affect women across various industries and professions. While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to achieve true pay equity. One powerful tool in bridging this gap is negotiation. As industry experts assert, strategic negotiation can be a powerful force in striving for pay parity. In this article, we will explore the intricacies of the gender pay gap and delve into how effective negotiation strategies can play a crucial role in narrowing this divide.
Understanding the Gender Pay Gap

You’re probably eager to have the secrets divulged to you now. But wait, it’s important to understand the gender pay gap and the factors that contribute to it, as these will better position you to understand how effective negotiation can be in nipping gender pay gap in the bud.


The gender pay gap refers to the difference in earnings between men and women in the workforce. It is a complex issue influenced by various factors, including occupational segregation, discrimination, and lack of representation in higher-paying roles. Despite advancements in women’s rights, this gap persists, with women earning, on average, less than their male counterparts for the same work.

Steps to Navigating the Negotiation Landscape

Step 1: Framing the Conversation


To open the door to productive negotiation, Bill Coleman, a renowned compensation expert, advises against setting a rigid figure. He suggests, “The worst thing you can say is ‘I want $X for this job,’ leaving no opening for negotiation by the other side. Better language is ‘I hope to earn between $X and $X.’ That gives the other party more flexibility.” This approach sets the stage for a chat where ideas can flow, and solutions can be found together. It’s like starting a conversation with a warm handshake – setting a constructive tone for negotiations – instead of a stiff salute.


Step 2: Mastering the Art of Negotiation


Harvey Mackay, a distinguished business speaker, encapsulates the essence of negotiation in his statement, “You do not get what you want. You get what you negotiate.” This profound truth underscores that successful negotiation is not just about asserting desires, but about skilfully navigating the process to achieve desired outcomes. This rings particularly true when it comes to securing fair compensation.


Now, imagine walking into a salary discussion with the knowledge that you’re about to play a game you’re incredibly good at. That’s the power of negotiation. It’s not about demanding but skillfully steering the conversation towards a fair outcome. When women hone their negotiation skills, they’re not just asking for what they deserve – they’re asserting their value and ensuring it’s recognized. By mastering negotiation, women can tip the scales in their favour, inching closer to a workplace where pay is determined by merit, not gender. It’s a game-changer in the fight for equality.


Step 3: Equipping Yourself with Knowledge


Victor Kiam, an accomplished entrepreneur, emphasizes the power of information in negotiation, stating, “Information is a negotiator’s greatest weapon.” This highlights the importance of being armed with data and insights about industry standards and organizational policies. This knowledge forms a solid foundation for negotiation, providing a clear and informed basis for discussions about compensation.


Step 4: Overcoming Fear in Negotiation


Fear can be a tricky companion in the world of negotiation. Picture this: you’re in a room, discussing terms, and suddenly, that knot in your stomach tightens. Maybe it’s the fear of offending the other party, or the dread of not getting what you want. Whatever it is, fear has a way of creeping in and clouding your judgment. It can make you hesitant, cause you to second-guess your worth, and even prevent you from asking for what you rightfully deserve.


But here’s the bombshell: when fear takes the wheel, it can lead you down a path of compromise that doesn’t serve your best interests. You might find yourself settling for less than what you truly deserve. It’s like letting the other party set the terms, leaving you with a sinking feeling that you could have done better. So, it’s essential to recognize the influence of fear and find ways to keep it in check. In negotiation, confidence and clarity of purpose are your best allies, while fear is the sneaky saboteur trying to undermine your efforts.


John F. Kennedy, in his inaugural speech, is on record to have said, “Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.” This timeless advice encourages you to approach negotiations with confidence and purpose. It gives a reminder that negotiation is not about confrontation, but rather a constructive dialogue aimed at achieving mutual benefit. This is particularly relevant when striving for fair compensation in the face of the gender pay gap.

Tips for Effective Negotiation

Research and Preparation: Before entering negotiations, it’s crucial to gather data on industry standards, salary ranges for your role, and the specific policies of your organization. This knowledge will serve as a foundation for your negotiation.


Confidence and Assertiveness: Approach negotiations with confidence in your abilities and the value you bring to the organization. Be assertive in articulating your accomplishments, skills, and contributions.


Focus on Value and Impact: Highlight the concrete ways in which your work positively impacts the company. Emphasize how your contributions align with the organization’s goals and objectives.


Practice Active Listening: Effective negotiation involves active listening. Understand the needs and concerns of the other party and look for mutually beneficial solutions.


Be Open to Compromise: While advocating for fair compensation is essential, be open to creative solutions that benefit both parties. Flexibility can lead to productive outcomes.



Closing the gender pay gap requires a multi-faceted approach, and negotiation is a powerful tool in this endeavour. By equipping women with the skills and confidence to negotiate effectively, we can work towards a more equitable future for all. However, it is imperative that organizations also take responsibility by implementing fair and transparent policies. Together, we can create a workplace where every individual is compensated based on their merit and contribution, regardless of gender.