How to Successfully Negotiate Your Salary

Recently, Secret Deodorant has launched an advertisement campaign working to raise awareness for workplace gender discrimination. Different commercials include a young woman practicing her speech for her boss in which she asks for a pay raise, and two women practicing a business pitch in a STEM-based job.  


After the first commercial launched of the young woman practicing her request for a raise, the campaign received a large amount of backlash for inaccurately describing the wage gap. Many argue the advertisement reinforces gender stereotypes by creating a nervous, frantic woman rather than a cool, calm female character, as well as romanticizes the fight for equal pay. However, while the campaign has problematic qualities, it addresses a prominent issue within the workforce: women failing to express themselves assertively and confidently when asking for a pay raise.

 A study in Linda Bacock’s book Women Don’t Ask found that only 7% of women attempt negotiating their salary, compared to 57% of men. Even if they are being paid less than a male colleague for completing the same work, women are less likely to ask for a raise. The reasons for their lack of confidence are founded in the history of women in the workforce. According to Babcock, women who ask for a pay raise are often labeled as "nags." Furthermore, women often face less job security, especially if they are thinking of having a family in the future, so asking for a pay raise can be more of a risk. 

Secret’s campaign shows the issues with the wage gap. The woman pacing in the bathroom practices how she will ask her boss for a raise. All of her speech is nervous and frantic. She asks “for a favor,” before she enters his office, feels the need to be apologetic for asking for a raise, and discusses the triumphs she has achieved as a product of hard work and team work, rather than her own merit and innate attributes. This scene describes the common issues of women denying their own excellence, apologizing for speaking not on a scheduled visit with a male colleague in a dominant position, and feeling guilty asking for more. These qualities are common among women in the workforce, regardless of their job.

Bacock offers advice on how to successfully negotiate salary raises as a woman. She first tells women to prepare. It can help them appear confident and cool as they enter the conversation, and helps women predict what obstacles they may face. Secondly, women must own their valuable qualities, but also how these qualities help the community as a whole—one step further than men must go. If a woman can show that she is needed by the entire community, she is seen is as a valuable tool for the workplace as a whole. Finally, Babock advises women to “broaden their definition of what it means to negotiate.” She argues that there are many ways to negotiate, and by being creative, you can surprise your colleagues, and impress them.

While the Secret advertisement falls short on some of the concepts of the wage gap, it sheds light on the important fact that women deserve to have just as much confidence negotiating their salary as men.