How can women get more pay if they want it?

The Confederation's annual study still shows large wage differences between men and women. Some of this can be explained, but what about the rest?

The following questions arise: Are other criteria more important to women than to men and do they not pay as much attention to wages? Do women negotiate worse than men? Do women dare less to demand more pay? 


If wages are not that important, then women are also satisfied with the wages they have. If not, it might help to optimise negotiation tactics.

So how does good negotiation work? 

Good negotiations, which are always delicate and potentially conflictual, first and foremost require good preparation: 

1) Master the facts

  • Do I know how my salary compares with the salaries customary in the labour market for similar positions? The size of the company, location, industry and other factors play a role.
  • Do I know what my colleagues in the same company earn? This is sometimes difficult, in rare cases even forbidden, to find out, but it is very important in order to understand your own salary.
  • What is my salary based on? Are there collective agreements or regulations? What are the calculation variables for my salary?
  • What are the current trends? - What is the employment situation? What difficulties is the company facing? Is the company thinking about restructuring or expansion? What about inflation?

Without a sound knowledge of these facts, which all affect salary, the negotiating position is weak. It is important to assess both the salary and your own performance correctly and thus make the right demands. 

2) Self-worth, or what is my value to the company?

Here it is important that I know what my salary is for. As soon as I accept a job or a position, certain expectations are placed on me. If I can (and want to) fulfil these, there is a benefit for the company. So what is the intended benefit of my job? This benefit can be measured, these are then the KPI's (key performance indicators), i.e. the metrics for my performance. Am I over-performing, fully performing, partially performing or not performing at all? So if I am performing, it also gives me good self-confidence for the upcoming negotiation. Self-esteem is thus intact.

3) The personality factors

Can I demand? Have I learned to demand what is due to me? Or do I prefer to wait for something to be offered to me that the other person thinks is right? Do I stand up for my rights and needs or do I accept what comes to me?

Am I willing to take risks and take "no" for an answer? Every demand is a risk to win or lose. Perhaps it is better for me not to take any risks, so as not to lose face or provoke trouble. Very importantly, how do I react when I get a total or partial "no"? Can I handle it professionally?

What are my negotiating skills? Do I manage to remain tough on the issue but soft in my dealings? Can I demand in a winning way and keep at it charmingly so that the relationship is protected on both sides? Am I ready for compromise and how do I prevent so-called lazy compromises? Am I a good loser? Can I win without the other party feeling like a loser and losing face?

12 tips for the negotiation itself

The bad news: bad negotiators usually lose. The good news: good negotiation can be learned through theory, practice, coaching, exercises and role-playing.

Here are some tips:

  • Good preparation - see the three points above - is absolutely essential. You may need to ask for help.
  • A good negotiation requires a clear goal in mind. What do I really want? Is it money, recognition, esteem, advancement, freedom, flexibility or being in a good position compared to others? Maybe I am willing to sacrifice some of the money for other goals.
  • When I negotiate, I should have the ideal solution in mind, but also the second and third best solution. I should also think about where I draw my lines that I don't want to go over or under. What would be the super disaster and what would I do if the super disaster occurred?
  • Don't commit to a zero-sum game, but negotiate with variations and alternatives. If wage increases are not an option, would training, more holidays, coaching, a binding development plan, an extension of duties, more home office or participation in seminars work? - to name just a few options.
  • Stay in dialogue. Ask questions instead of expressing opinions. Include the possibilities and points of view of your counterpart.
  • Consider what agreements (mutual benefits) are possible and also what conflict situations can arise due to opposing interests. What can you offer to optimise the advantages of the other party and minimise the disadvantages?
  • Do not demand everything that is possible, but be clear about what is important to you in your demands.
  • Remain open, relaxed, calm, approachable and friendly throughout the negotiation. Even if things are not going so well for you at the moment.
  • Build up inner images of strength that you can refer back to when you do feel some tension.
  • Do not see the negotiation as a rope pulling in opposite directions, but as an opportunity to find the best possible solution between two or more parties.
  • If you are unsuccessful in a negotiation, do not see the failed negotiation as a failure, but simply as a round in an ongoing process, and ring the bell for the next round when the opportunity arises.
  • Last but not least: Be clear that your wishes are nothing more than wishes. They have no right to fulfilment. If your wishes are fulfilled, be grateful. If not, let them fly as soon as possible and find another solution.

I wish you every success in your next negotiation.

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