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In a piece on NPR’s All Things Considered on Valentine’s Day (irony is our favorite thing at Mighty Casey Media), it was revealed that women still lag behind men in pay equity, often leaving $1M or more on the table over an entire career due to their inability to negotiate pay raises.

A complicating factor there is that, when women use the same negotiating tactics used by men in the same situation, they’re seen as “overly aggressive” – ouch. I admit to being both more in-your-face than most women, and to hearing accusations of “you’re too assertive” over the years as I navigate my own career, but are we still stuck in gender-norming territory?

It seems that we are. When you’re looking for a job, or pitching business for your company, are you winding up in a pink ghetto? The only way to tell is to look at your win category: raises successfully won, business pitched and landed. If women are to get out of the girl ghetto, what’s the fast-track to getting what we deserve?

There are some great suggestions in the story. First, bartender Trudie Olsen-Curtis did get what she wanted: a raise. She did her research, and then made her pitch in a way that kept the conversation, and the negotiation, on track. Second, experts advise that the strongest negotiation tactic is…silence. Clearly state your case, and then look across the table. Nature, and negotiation conversations, abhor a vacuum – you’ll get a response. And then the game is on.

Girl Scout Win-Win patchLike all good stories, the piece saved the best for last – the Girl Scouts have created a new badge called Win/Win, and it’s all about negotiating for what you want: a raise in allowance, money for a school trip, a later curfew, et al. It’s simple and effective, and gives me lots of hope for the next generation of women in business.

If you run a company or are in HR, ask yourself honestly if you’re using different criteria for men & women when negotiating raises or contracts. Think about your attitudes and expectations, about what your reactions would be to the same pitch from a man and from a woman. Make an effort to learn from that internal inventory, and to teach others the same lesson.

That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it…

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