Women generally receive less staff and less funding, but these negotiation tactics can help


Many women feel uncomfortable asking for more resources, says negotiation expert Fotini Iconomopoulos, posing here on the Puente de Luz pedestrian bridge in Toronto.Tijana Martin / The Globe and Mail

Fotini Iconomopoulos is an expert in negotiation in the workplace. But despite global consultations on the subject with companies from L’Oreal to Walmart and teaching negotiation skills at York University’s Schulich School of Business, she is not immune to being put into practice. doubt on the job.

“I walked into those conference rooms in the heart of Texas where old white men were like, ‘What are you going to teach me, little girl? »», Explains Ms Iconomopoulos, author of Say yes, get more: unconventional negotiating skills to get what you want.

Bargaining can help women executives challenge gender biases and get what they need to be successful, from higher wages to more venture capital for their businesses. But excellent negotiation skills can also help women in another important – and often overlooked – way: securing sufficient budgets and staff to make their departments and projects successful.

Departments understaffed and insufficiently funded

A Catalyst study 2012 showed that male graduates of top business schools had budgets for their projects twice as large as those of their female counterparts. The number of their teams was also three times larger. And one Study 2019 of U.S. nonprofit CEOs found that among service organizations with budgets over $ 10 million, the average budget for male CEOs was $ 47 million, while the average budget for female CEOs was $ 28 million.

Women are more likely to face understaffed departments and inadequate funding, which can have long-term effects on their ability to take on larger projects later – often powerful stepping stones for job promotions. the suite C.

Andrea Gunraj, Vice President of Public Engagement at the Canadian Women’s Foundation in Toronto, argues that underfunded and underfunded projects reflect a much larger systemic problem. Female employees, especially women of color, trans women and people with disabilities, are undervalued, she said.

When you consider that women earn around 89 cents for every dollar a man earns, “it’s not at all surprising that this is reflected in the kind of funding that goes to women’s projects and departments,” says Gunraj.

In addition, we tend to ask women to do more with less. The last Women in the Workplace Report de McKinsey says that during the pandemic, female executives were more likely than men to provide emotional support and ensure that their employees’ workloads were manageable.

Ms. Iconomopoulos remembers when her superiors asked her to train other employees in addition to her full-time job. “We’re doing more work, but it’s not necessarily recognized,” she says. “And how many women do you know who will be comfortable saying no?” “

Learned behaviors that favor harmony

Cherolyn Knapp, lawyer, mediator, conflict resolution and workplace researcher in Victoria, BC, speaks often about negotiation and gender dynamics in Canada. She says one of the reasons women may feel uncomfortable asking for more resources is “gender wiring”.

Women often have an “accommodating” and “aligning” leadership style that puts relationships above desired results. Not necessarily inherent traits, these are likely behaviors that have been learned over time.

“It’s like, ‘I don’t want to step on my toes. I will do whatever it takes to make you happy and I will find out for myself, ”Ms. Knapp said. The problem is, this tactic usually doesn’t work. “It can engender a lot of resentment. “

Ms. Gunraj notes that women shouldn’t have to be “master negotiators” to get what they need. It is the responsibility of business leaders to take a serious look at systemic biases and flawed company policies.

Ms Iconomopoulos agrees that systemic issues need to be tackled on a larger scale, but in the meantime, it also makes sense to hone your negotiation skills.

“The truth is, if we wait for society to catch up, we’re going to wait a long time,” she said.

Here are some tips for trading with confidence:

1. Think of it as a collaboration: Ms. Knapp says that when she talks to women’s groups about the “art” of negotiation, more than a few participants moan. But that’s because they don’t think of the exchange the right way, she says. Negotiation is in fact a matter of collaboration. “Think of it as a common problem to be solved,” she adds.

2. Do it for the team: Ms Iconomopoulos notes that studies show that many women feel uncomfortable defending themselves, fearing that they will be seen as greedy, but have no problem defending on behalf of their team. If that’s how you feel, use it, she says. Everything that works.

3. Let the data speak: If you’re worried about a possible post-trade backlash, come to the table prepared with data, Ms. Iconomopoulos says. Just as you would enter salary negotiations with information on market conditions and competitive rates, find out if other teams are better funded or have more resources. Then don’t be afraid to say, “How can we be equipped to achieve even better results for this business? “

4. Choose your moment: Are you asked to add another project to your charge? This is the perfect time to say, “Okay, but I’ll need full-time administrative assistance. Here’s why, ”says Knapp.

5. Make it a multi-step process: One of the biggest mistakes negotiators make is trying to get everything they need at once and become frustrated if the proposal is rejected, Ms Knapp said. Instead, ask in stages. Think of negotiation as a game of strategic chess.

“You don’t stick your arm to the chessboard and push all your chess pieces to the other side,” Ms. Knapp explains. “You do it one move at a time.”

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