How to ask for a raise

The average pay raise across major U.S. employers this year was 3%

(CNN) – A new study reaffirms what many people already know, there’s a big workplace salary gap between men and women.

The jobs site “Hired” says men receive higher offers for the same positions seven out of ten times. For some professions, women face a struggle just to break in. However, career coaches say one reason the pay gap exists is because women simply aren’t as effective at asking for a raise.

It’s that moment many of us dread and a few of us look forward to. The long walk to the boss’s office to ask that crucial question, “Can I have a raise?”

Last year, Glamour Magazine found 57% of women have never asked for a raise compared to just 46% of men. CNN wanted to find out why, so Clare Sebastian and Samuel Burke are submitting ourselves to an experiment.

We’ve invited a top New York career coach to the CNN offices. She’s going to play the role of the boss in a mock salary discussion and we are going to see who performs best.

“The reality is that men have been conditioned to negotiate because they were earners and because their value has been equated to the amount of money they bring in, whereas we have not over the course of history,” said Elizabeth Cronise McLaughlin, Career Coach.

For the experiment, we are using our real jobs, CNN journalists and of course, our real personalities. Everything else is based on general aspects of the industry.

Clare: “Hi”
Elizabeth: “Hi”
Clare: “How are you?”
Elizabeth: “I’m good, how are you?”
Clare: “Good.”

Samuel: “Hey boss good to see you.”
Elizabeth: “Good to see you, what can I do for you today?”
Samuel: “Well I’ve been going over some of the numbers with HR.”

Right from the start, the difference is stark.

“Scattered eye contact, and your body language was sort of hanging back a bit, and the wringing of the hands is an issue. Sam came in very forcefully, did exactly what we’re talking about with body language he was face forward here, strong spine, very confident in the way that he projected his ask. Generally the raise that we give to everyone every year for good performance is 3%,” said Mclaughlin.

We both decided to ask for more than 3%, the average pay raise across major U.S. employers this year. We didn’t tell each other exactly how much more.

Clare: “So I wanted to discuss whether we could look at perhaps a slightly higher than average increase this year, maybe around 6%.”

Samuel: “I really think a 10% raise would be reflective of the type of work that I’ve been doing.”

“It’s an issue because most women will come in and negotiate at their bottom line – if you do not come in at higher than what you want, there’s nowhere to meet in the middle.” Said Mclaughlin.

So first you start high, then you have to justify it.

Samuel: “It’s the sponsorships that I brought in for the company, the segments that I’ve been doing have been bringing in more money continuously than anything other people have been doing in our group.”

Clare: “I’ve been mentoring a lot of the younger members of the team, helping them to discover their own talents.”

While I talked about what HR execs call “Soft Skills,” I went straight for the bottom line.

“This is a very standard expected gender differential in the way that men and women negotiate, but when it comes to money, money has to equal money and so what you’re bringing in really needs to be the first justification,” said Mclaughlin.

Samuel: “Did we get the raise?”
Elizabeth: “Yes!”
Clare: “Both of us?”
Elizabeth: “Both of you.”
Samuel: “Different amounts?”
Elizabeth: “Different amounts of course though because you didn’t give me quite enough room. I could come back and say to him, ‘fine you’re getting 6%. You asked for 10, I got you 6.’ You probably would have ended up with 5.”

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