Megan Graieg

By Megan Graieg

Negotiating equal pay

The gender pay gap has been in the news yet again: from Carrie Gracie’s pay protest at the BBC[1] to Michelle Williams being paid $1,000 to co-star Mark Wahlberg’s $1.5 million.[2]

The BBC was one of the first businesses to release gender pay gap information publically. They were proud of their 9% pay gap, 9% less than the 18% national average.[3] But 9% is still a statistically significant – and unacceptable – difference.

All businesses (with over 250 staff) are required to publish gender pay information by April. So far, 550 organisations have revealed their data to HMRC. The resulting figures are disappointing, though unsurprising.[4] Very few have shown pay gap equality, with the British Museum and the Armed Forces being among the most equitable groups.

Some of the worst pay gaps have been defended by bosses, such as women’s fashion label Phase Eight, whose chief executive argued that the men in their organization tend to be in head office roles and women in high street stores.[5] But this isn’t an excuse. Instead, this highlights another problem: the lack of equal gender representation at all levels of a business.

Given the continued prevalence of the gender pay gap, we want all women in business to be in a strong position to negotiate equal pay with their employers. Tim Cullen, Director of the Oxford Programme on Negotiation at Saïd Business School, recently shared advice for strong negotiating that will help you claim equal pay for equal work.


Gender pay gap: UK women are paid 18% less than men


Do your homework

Make sure you are prepared before the negotiations begin. Go into the meeting having established your interests and that of your counterpart. Try to imagine what your counterpart may take issue with and have responses ready for them.

All about reciprocity

Both parties will come to a negotiation wanting to find a benefit that works for them. Be mindful of what your counterpart wants out of the negotiation and the value they place on each outcome.

Establish trust

Don’t make promises you can’t deliver on, as this will put you on the back foot in any future negotiations. Lying damages your reputation and undermines the overall objective of coming to a mutually satisfactory outcome. Whether it is an exaggeration or a bluff, it is still a lie – don’t do it.

Avoid ‘Red Lines’

Do not make threats. Ultimatums are a hindrance to negotiations and reduce your credibility when negotiating. If you lay down an ultimatum only to back down when faced with that outcome, your reputation will suffer.


Tim Cullen is currently presenting a series of webinars on ‘How to negotiate with impact’. Watch the recording of the first webinar, Trust and Reciprocity, here.



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