When it comes to asking for a pay rise, research suggests women could be doing better.

A recent survey of over 5,000 Australians found only 17% of women asked for a pay rise in 2018 compared to 23% of men1. The finding aligns with a common view that women don't ask for pay rises as often as men, and this partly explains the gender pay gap.

Another study found women who asked for a pay rise were successful 15% of the time, while men obtained a pay increase 20% of the time2. So why the discrepancy in getting a pay rise? Women may benefit from spending a bit more time on their approach before starting a pay rise discussion.

4 quick tips when asking your employer for a pay rise

  • Do your research. Understand what your job type is paying within your organisation and others.
  • Present a clear business case for your pay rise. Identify what value (skills and experience) you’re bringing to the business and how you’re helping the profitability of the business.
  • Be bold and aim high in your pay negotiations. Suggest 10-20% higher than you want, allowing room to come back.
  • Keep emotion out of your pay negotiations and focus on your performance.

Despite a prolonged period of low wages growth, there are reasons for women to be optimistic. The SEEK Employment Report for May 2019 found the average advertised salary is up by 3.4% compared with May 20183. Female-dominated services industries recorded the highest increase in advertised salaries.

  • Education & Training—one of the biggest employers of women—had the highest growth, with new job ads up by 13.7%.
  • And Healthcare & Medical—the biggest employer of women—recorded 7.8% growth in job ads.

What other benefits your employer might offer

If your employer is unable to offer you a pay rise, it's a good idea to work through in advance what else you might accept. Other options include additional contributions to superannuation, extra annual leave, development training and linking a bonus to future sales targets.

It’s also important to know what you won’t accept in lieu of a pay rise. SEEK research advises employers that if a company doesn't have the funds for a pay rise, then flexible work arrangements are a good alternative4. The study found flexible work, such as working from home, was more likely to appeal to females than males, at 29% compared to 14%.

But flexible work won’t suit everyone, particularly if what you’re really looking for is additional money to build your wealth.

Bianca Hartge-Hazelman is a columnist on women's money matters and is the founding publisher of Financy and the Financy Women's Index. This article represents the views of the author only and does not necessarily reflect the views of AMP.

1 Adecco, The pay gap is real, and this is how it starts
2 Harvard Business Review, Research: Women Ask for Raises as Often as Men, but Are Less Likely to Get Them, 25 June 2018
3 Seek, Jobs ads down 6.5% year on year and salaries grow by 3.4%
4 Seek, What to do when an employee asks for a pay rise

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