Former Fairfield students were back on campus last week, not to attend class, but to teach current female undergraduates how to be assertive negotiators in their future careers.
On Wednesday, March 25, the Career Planning Center and Fairfield’s art history department partnered with HerCampus to host a panel presentation on strategies for women to negotiate their salaries in the workplace. This presentation was the first of its kind, and was intended specifically for undergraduate students.
The panel consisted of Fairfield alumni from a variety of careers. Panel members included Karen Mainenti ’96, a creative director at Alene Candles; Courtney Darts ’01, an attorney; Melanie Rice ’11, a code writer; and Lindsey Ault-Authier ’06, a recruitment communications manager.
The four panelists spoke of their own experiences in advocating for themselves in their past and present jobs, and offered insight and strategies to those in attendance on how to do so in their future careers.
When questioned on the importance of women advocating for themselves in their careers, Rice said, “It’s important for women to advocate for themselves in the workplace because no one else is going to do that for you.”
She explained that women should keep in mind that companies are concerned more with their own brand and not the career paths of their employees.
“Businesses are focused on their profit and what you can do for their company, so you have to be your own advocate and make sure that you’re negotiating for what you want.”
Ault-Authier built on Rice’s ideas, explaining that women often undermine their accomplishments, while their male co-workers exaggerate their triumphs in the workplace.
While only seven percent of women tried to negotiate a pay raise, Mainenti added that 57 percent of men attempted the same feat, and they eventually got the raise. Mainenti suggested that the best way for women to ask for a pay raise is not to demand it, but instead to articulate all their efforts aimed toward the betterment of the company.
If women are intimidated to begin a conversation about increasing their pay, Mainenti suggested several techniques that can facilitate the process.
“Benchmarking,” the first technique recommended by Mainenti, requires doing research on similar jobs and their median salaries. This way, women can enter salary negotiations with an idea of what other jobs are paying for comparable work.
Next, she recommended that women enter negotiations knowing exactly what they want. If women know they want a salary increase or flexibility in their work schedule, Mainenti explained that they will be able to keep those goals in mind during the negotiations and craft their argument around those points.
Reminding their employers of the work they already do is yet another technique Mainenti suggested for women trying to negotiate their salaries. “The more you focus on the position, the less you have to deal with the salary, and both parties become more invested,” she said.
Finally, Mainenti offered that it is essential for women to have the confidence to express what they want, explaining that negotiation can result in a situation that is mutually beneficial to both parties involved.