5 Ways Take Control of Your Salary Increase Negotiations

A recent discussion between Hollywood actresses Gabrielle Union, Ellen Pompeo, Gina Rodriguez and Emma Roberts on Net-a-Porter's platform showed the inequality in pay between men and women, and also between women of different races. 

It is well documented that Ellen Pompeo earns at least $20 million a year for her work in Greys Anatomy, making her one of the highest paid TV actresses. In the conversation she said her negotiation was based on the value that her "face" has brought the show for over 12 years. The show has made a revenue of almost $3.2 billion since it started and she wanted a part of that. 

Gabrielle Union explained that she was not aware how much white actresses were not only asking for- but also receiving, and that it had never occurred to her to ask for those kind of figures because Hollywood discourages the discussion of salaries. Rodriguez added that a woman of latino decent, she was simply happy to be in the room, so she wouldn't want to seem ungrateful by asking for more, which could lead to losing the opportunity to work.




In most workplaces right now, its time to negotiate salary increases and bonus payout season. Its time for people to find out about promotions from Candidate Attorney to Associate, or Associate to Senior Associate, or most coveted title of Partner.

Similar to Hollywood most workplaces discourage or even prohibit the comparison of salaries between employees. I have often wondered why this rule exists, who does it protect? 

Here are 5 things to consider as you go into your salary increase negotiations:



1. Dismiss the Tiara Syndrome

I first heard of the Tiara Syndrome in Sheryl Sandberg's book "Lean In", but the phrase was coined by Carol Frohlinger  who said "Women expect that if they keep doing their job well someone will notice them and place a tiara on their head. That never happens."

Doing good work and being diligent is extremely important,that's what keeps you in the game.  You also need to have a career strategy to get to the next level. This could include studying further, networking, getting a mentor to guide you, etc- because good things do not come to those who wait in the corporate world.

"Do not wait for power to be offered. Like that Tiara it may never materialise." says Sandberg. 



2. Know The Numbers

It is important for you to know how much your team has made in the past and current financial year, as well as your contribution to that bottom line. This may be easier to do in a law firm, but if you work in a company, it may be a little harder to do because legal services may not generate fees towards the bottom line. 

Perhaps you can look at the number of transactions you advised on that closed and their value to the company, as well as the amount of money you saved on the legal budget by doing things yourself or keeping tight reigns on external legal advisors. 

This ensures that your request in rooted in reality and shows the superiors that you have done your homework. 


3. Whats Worth More Than Money? 

Determine what is worth more than money for you and ask for that.

If you want to work more flexi-hours - then ask for 2 days working remotely and 3 days working in the office. If you want to study a short course, ask the company to pay for it without any conditions- like paying back the money.  

Ask for something that will add to your happiness bottom line, in a way that money can't fulfill.


4. Compare and Contrast


Yes, talk to others in the company and in similar positions elsewhere about what they earn. 

Money is a sensitive topic, so rather look at it as certificates of completion! If you are doing the same work as another person, don't want to know that you are being equally valued?

 It starts with you being brave enough to talk to your colleagues about it. Its important to also note that you must not attack your colleagues who earn more. The problem is with the system that rewards people unfairly, so focus your frustration towards towards challenging the status quo and make your colleagues your ally. 

The money you earn is not a reflection of your value and worth, it is what someone else has priced you at- so, do not take it too seriously. Focus on your internal worth and work on ways that will eventually allow you to price yourself.

5. You Belong Here




You have your qualifications. You got the job. You show up everyday and give your best. You belong here! You have put in the work to earn the title, so pull up the seat at the table. When you get ready for the negotiations, you are not asking for a favour, you have demonstrated your capabilities. 

Always be grateful and never take any opportunity for granted, but not to the detriment of your well being - physically, emotionally or financially. Perhaps you have run your course in the organisation, but you always belong in the profession as a legal professional! Own your space. 



Talking about money is not easy, but money is such an important part of our livelihood. We need better tools to have the confidence to approach the topic, and I trust that these 5 points to consider will make the discussion easier and leave you with more money in the bank!

Is there anything else that you do when negotiating your salary increase?

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