“Every bad deal you’ve ever gotten, you agreed to it,” were part of the opening words by guest speaker and Media Mogul Caroline Mutoko.
She was speaking at the Negotiation Strategies for Women Event by Mums Village, hosted at the Nexus CoWork Space on Riara Road over the weekend. The first part of the programme began with a welcome note from Mums Village founder Isis Nyong’o-Madison and Co-Nexus founder Asha Mweru after which Caroline took the floor. She was followed by Entrepreneur Grace Murugi and finally HR Expert Vivian Mimano.
A major theme around their talks was the fact that women are less likely than men to negotiate for what they want. First because they are socialised to focus on the need to be liked. Second the fear of being seen as pushy as opposed to assertive also affects their willingness to negotiate.
What’s more, unlike men who ask, as women we tend to think that hard work and doing a good job is enough to get you noticed. As if that’s not enough most women seem unaware of their value, thus they undermine themselves and never discover what they are truly capable of. Another common pitfall they noted was employers asking for a raise based on changes in their lifestyle (I need to move out of home, I don’t want to take a matatu anymore or now that I have a baby, I need more)…it’s not an employer’s role to change your salary based on your lifestyle choices.
Luckily, the engaging speakers didn’t stop there. They shared some great negotiating tricks every women should adopt. Here are a few of them:
- Don’t get into a room if you are not talking to the decision maker. If the person you are speaking to can’t make a decision based on the outcome of your conversation, it is not a negotiation. It is a chat.
- How you ask makes a huge difference. Ask, don’t demand because most employers don’t appreciate negotiating with a gun to their head. When you speak, be measured, be clear in ask, lower pitch of your voice. No one hears you when you’re shrill.
- Do your homework before you start your discussion. Think about what else you are bringing to the table. If you want to be part of the bigger conversation, you need to go in with facts like how your contribution impacts the company’s bottom line. If you find you can’t make ends meet, think about what additional value you can make at work – taking on new assignments, offering to work extra hours – and if you present this to your boss and they agree it will help grow the business, you can then open the conversation about compensation aligned to increased value.
- Know your worth based on your experience. Research the salary levels for the position on the talent market and your geography. You need to know who you are, lead with your value, and sell your relationship.
NB- For each shilling paid an employee, the employer needs to make 9x as much money — be aware of this and always think about how you can help grow the business.
- You can negotiate for more than money. This could be in terms of more flexible hours, vacation time, a better title, transport reimbursement or a project you want to spearhead.
- Before signing any agreements, figure out whether it works for you. Don’t be nervous about asking for things that you know you will need. Be bold about it. It is advisable to always ask for more than you expect to get. You may not get everything you ask for, but you might be surprised at what you do get.
- Package your ask. Lay all your cards on the table, employers don’t appreciate renegotiating terms after an agreement has been reached. If they know what bringing you in will cost in with regard to money and time, they are better able to plan and make sure they can accommodate you within their organisation.
- Take initiative and realise you have to sacrifice for what you want. This can involve going over and above what is expected of you. Sometimes you also need to move horizontally to move vertically.
- Your online presence is a key part of your negotiating process. Key tips are to ensure you have presence (at the minimum a LinkedIn profile) and that you pick the social media channel that works most authentically for your professional and personal self-shine.
- If you don’t fight for yourself, no one is going to do it. And don’t just think about yourself. You are negotiating for standards all women in your office will need. You are creating that precedence. Someone has to start and it should be you.
- No is a complete sentence. If it’s not a deal that will work for you, don’t be afraid to say no to it. Sometimes when you say no, the other side comes back and says ‘let’s talk’.
- Get it in writing. You need to get everything you agree on in writing otherwise the other party can easily go back on their word.
Outside the talks and panel discussions, the guests also got a chance to network over refreshments and share experiences during a break-out interactive session. The all-booked out event truly delivered on its promise to give women the tools they needed to get ahead in the work place. The children were not left behind, the set-up play area with care givers ensured that they were entertained while their mums were occupied.
Remember: Don’t apologize for asking for what you deserve. Start Negotiating!
Check out the event highlights on MumsVillage YouTube Page.