Negotiating Your Worth

Last month, I moderated a panel on negotiating one’s worth for the 2019 She Talks Asia summit. I chose this topic in particular because I’ve met so many women who feel quite uneasy about discussing money matters. Sadly, there are people who are unfairly benefitting from this discomfort. For every P100 that a man earns, a woman only earns P75 for the same job. The income wage gap is real; and women who are choosing to settle for rates lower than what they should be getting are unknowingly perpetuating this injustice.

I remember the story of one friend who shared with me that while interviewing for her first job, the CEO asked her how much her asking salary was. She replied coyly while looking down at her shoes, “Whatever you want.” They ended up paying her only P13,000 a month for a job that required her to put in long hours, six days a week. This friend is now the CEO of a major beauty brand so she has more than made up for that rookie mistake. Still, she can’t help but wonder about how different her financial trajectory could have been if she had learned early how to negotiate well.

Four amazing Girlbosses who come from different industries joined us to weigh in on the topic: P&G APAC Brand Manager Nicole Villarojo, HK-based Branding Expert Jane Dee, CEO of Status Media Group Rosario Herrera, and Actress/Talent Manager Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan.

Here are my top five takeaways from our discussion:

1. Sometimes all you need to do is ask. The meek may eventually inherit the earth, but they certainly won’t get paid well while living here. Nicole said that one of the misconceptions she had to correct was the notion that people will just notice her hard work and that she’ll automatically be rewarded for it. As a result, she was ignored for a promotion because her boss didn’t think she was interested. We need to learn how to articulate what we want and what we bring to the table in no uncertain terms.

2. Give yourself ample time to evaluate an offer. One of the mistakes you could make is to accept or reject an offer without thoroughly evaluating how it fits into your short-term and long-term plans. Jane also recommends asking advice from a peer or a mentor from your industry. The objective perspective and a more experienced outlook could help you identify any blindspots or unhelpful biases you may have.

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3. When you say yes, make sure you can deliver what you promised. You’ll be doing your self a disservice by overselling yourself just to be able to get a higher pay. When you’re young and inexperienced, you need to accept the fact that you can’t charge as high yet as your more seasoned counterparts. Think of this time as your investment in developing valuable knowledge and skill set, which you could eventually use for effective leverage.

4. When you get a low offer, learn not to take it personally. Rosario stressed the importance of managing your emotions and not allowing a low offer to affect your perception of your own competence. Businesses usually make offers based on an approved budget and not on how much they think you're worth. Say no if it's not a fit, and move on.

5. Remember that money is not the only currency. When evaluating an offer, try to assess its benefits based on the experience, exposure, network, and sense of fulfillment it could give you. Maricel said that when in doubt, take a moment to reflect on your core values and make a decision based on what would bring you closer to the person you would be most proud to become.

To watch the FB Live coverage of the full panel, click here:

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