Asserting One’s Value a Challenge for Some Women

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Salary and promotion negotiations are nerve-racking, especially for financial professionals needing to articulate their worth in a company’s large pecking order. While one may very well know that they bring significant value to the table, sitting down and effectively and confidently communicating that worth can often be more difficult than one might imagine. And for some women, it can present a huge challenge.

In an interview with eFinancialCareers, Rebecca Weingarten, executive and corporate coach and co-founder of Atypical Coaching, says that women may be especially hesitant to take the needed assertive path in a salary and promotion discussion.

Gender differences exist

Certainly, many will scoff at the notion, but gender differences do exist, says Weingarten. While men are much more accustomed to directly approaching a negotiation, women are often relying on their work achievements to stand for them, she says.

Weingarten adds that some women, not all, are still worried that a forthright approach might come off as too aggressive. “Men are simply socialized differently," she says. "I often coach successful professional women in financial services—women who bring tons of money into their firm. But they simply aren’t used to the idea of promoting themselves.”

Difference between assertive and aggressive

Weingarten makes a strong distinction between assertive and aggressive, noting the former is a must-have characteristic, especially working in the banking and investment banking world. “Assertive is not a dirty word,” she adds. “It’s simply saying that this is who I am and what I’m worth and what I bring to the table.” Weingarten reminds that hard cold facts always bolster a case for a raise or promotion. “Come armed with actual facts and figures,” she says. “Don’t be insecure, and remember that competition is fine and a fact of life.”

Write out contributions to the firm

Weingarten suggests that before you speak with the powers that be, to physically sit down and write out what you’ve contributed to the firm—clients, profits and more. “It helps to ask yourself what the company gets out of you.” If you have a raise amount in mind, make sure to do some research on salaries for professionals with a similar background. Weingarten says, “I often find that many women low-ball the amount.”

Of course, given the layoffs in the financial world, many might be more than a little afraid to talk about a raise. Weingarten says to avoid being confrontational. But making it clear that you are committed to the bank or investment firm, and that you are a money maker, just might be the right thing to do to keep yourself on the radar in times of turmoil. If large-scale layoffs do happen, you just might be protected.

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