Sheconomy – 15.10.2021
What, if our role models do not ask for a higher salary?
Last week, the waves were making waves when Indra Nooyi said in a recent interview with The New York Times that she “never, ever, ever asked for a raise” adding “I find it cringeworthy. I cannot imagine working for somebody and saying my pay is not enough,”
And this statement comes from no one less important than former PepsiCo chair and CEO Indra Nooyi who is kind of an icon for women’s business empowerment. Nooyi, born in India, stands out for both her achievements and the context in which she rose: She was one of the 30 female CEOs as well as one of the 10% minority (WOC) CEOs out of the Fortune 500 CEOs.
And her interview is especially misfortunate as her new book, “My Life in Full: Work, Family, and Our Future,” intends to encourage other women to climb the corporate ladder.
One day later, in an interview with Forbes, Indra Nooyi revised, even emphasizing that she wanted her daughters to fight for equal pay and affirming that women should actively ask for a raise.
So, what’s it all about?
Taboo topic salary
Talking about salary – let alone demanding more – is still taboo in many cultures. Indra Nooyi told Forbes that making demands is completely taboo in India.
78% of workers recently surveyed by Randstad USA confirmed that they would rather not talk to others about their salary. Very strange outcome for the States: This country is renowned for its frankness where everyone asks their interlocutors about career and salary status as soon as they get to know each other.
Salary expert and Deloitte partner Christian Havranek already mentioned back in 2018 that
“there is a huge amount of secrecy about salaries”. No wonder, Austria is a country far more reserved when it comes to private data than the States.
According to the same survey by Randstad 57% of American women admit that they’ve never negotiated their salary and 51% considered rather leaving the company instead.
According to Stepstone 2019 only 39% of all Austrian women ask for a pay rise every 2 years although 45% believe that their colleagues earn more.
Only women need to consider the consequences of their negotiations
Harvard Business Review cites an interesting study in 2018 that women probably ask for a raise as often as men do but are less likely to get an increase. Why, because apparently, superiors perceive this demand as inappropriate for women and tend to be less inclined to work with her afterwards – while this is not the case with men.
No wonder, that so many women prefer to behave passively when it comes to salary.
Researchers address this phenomenon as the ‘social cost of negotiation’. To avoid a negative outcome when negotiating, Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook recommends to “think personally, act communally”.
To minimize the social cost of negotiation women should
- emphasize that this was the only time they were on opposite sides of the table with their employer, and
- highlight their excellent working relationship and
- focus on the benefit of negotiation skills for the company. Example: as an expert in the purchasing department, demonstrating one’s negotiating skills is a proof how one is capable to get the best result for the company
‘Money is not important to me’ and the consequences for Equal Pay
Numerous studies and surveys not only show that women are reluctant to talk about money, let alone demand more salary, due to culture or social peace, but they also find out that women generally prefer to leave the topic of money and finances to men, because money is not as important to them as human relationships and fulfilling activities.
So far, so good – after all, everyone is allowed to do what they think is right for them.
Almost everyone: because when Indra Nooyi emphasizes that she does not negotiate because she is paid very well as CEO anyway, then this has fatal consequences for the ‘Equal Pay’ case – and certainly does not shorten the period of ^approximately 100 years we still need to go to close the gender pay gap.
What is the solution? Should we rather be money-fixed??
It is important that female role models understand the importance of their role and do everything in their power to close the gender pay gap. And if they think they already earn enough then they should still aim for the same salary that men get for a comparable position and donate the difference to young women who are more disadvantaged when it comes to education and professional opportunities. Because equal pay is about earning what we’re worth. And that’s why I would like to conclude: Let’s negotiate and earn our worth – we are worth it!