7 tips on how to negotiate pay and approach compensation

Equity in pay is important to our diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In honor of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, here are seven tips employees should consider when navigating how to negotiate pay with their employer or supervisor. While social initiatives are powerful and effective, educating underrepresented groups goes a long way toward bridging the ever-present wage gap.

A Black, female business owner poses in her luxury floral shop.
A Black, female business owner poses in her luxury floral shop.

What is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day?

Each year, the date of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day roughly reflects how long a Black woman must work into the year to make what a white, non-Hispanic man made the previous year. The later in the year this day falls, the wider the wage gap. This year, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is on July 27th, 2023.

According to the non-profit organization, the American Association of University Women and ACS Census data, Black women in 2021 made 58 cents for every dollar earned by non-Hispanic white men. An effective strategy to increase that number must include more than social initiatives. We also need to teach Black women how to negotiate pay increases effectively.  

At Intuit, pay equity is fundamental to our DEI strategy. We’re committed to an ongoing focus on pay equity and the work we do twice a year to conduct a global, comprehensive analysis, make adjustments, and share the results to hold ourselves accountable and ensure continuous improvement. 

We also believe that representation is a key step in creating an inclusive and equitable environment where all employees can do the best work of their lives. Our Intuit African Ancestry Network came together with our Intuit’s Women Network to host a panel featuring several Black women leaders sharing practical advice for how to negotiate a pay raise and approach compensation. Tia Bradley, a staff program manager overseeing our talent programs, led the discussion, with the panelists sharing profound insights and actionable advice.

7 tips on how to negotiate pay and approach compensation

1. Do your research

Be strategic when negotiating your pay. Instead of picking a number out of the air, be intentional and specific. Shani Boston, senior director of product development operations at Intuit Mailchimp acknowledged that conversations about pay can be uncomfortable. When determining how to negotiate your pay raise, one suggestion is to do your research and back up your position with data. Ultimately, you’ll feel more comfortable, and your leadership team will have more reason to consider your request.

If you’re seeking a new role or promotion, state why you want the role or why you think you deserve the promotion. Lay out your contributions and include evidence of what you’ve done within or outside the organization that warrants the pay increase. You can also vocalize an expectation to be treated fairly and equitably.

If you struggle with advocating for yourself, write your data points on paper and give it to your manager or hiring individual. Now they have something tangible that advocates for you even after you’ve left the room.

One thing Nykia Wilson, director of ethics, wishes she knew the first time she negotiated pay was that being told no is the worst that could happen.

2. Evaluate your goals

Money doesn’t have to be the only driver in the position you choose. If you want higher pay, be intentional about it. If your goal is to learn more about a field you’re passionate about, consider working toward becoming a better communicator or writing better code. Or perhaps you value being around like-minded people that make your work environment a great fit.

Identify your core values and gauge whether the desired job or position will align with those values. La Toya Haynes, director of racial equity, suggests trying to understand the compensation philosophy of the company or individual in charge of hiring. If they’re unwilling to pay what you want, perhaps they have other levers you can pull or push. Are they willing to flex on vacation time? Or to get you the training resources to help you reach a goal? Or support your desire to attend conferences and networking events?

3. Overcome imposter syndrome

Shani Boston has a passion for identifying and fighting imposter syndrome. Sometimes people put a huge amount of pressure on themselves, leading to self-sabotage. While self-doubt can be a healthy way to question yourself, imposter syndrome is about questioning your worth and is limiting.

Successfully learning how to negotiate pay in an interview has a lot to do with mindset. Go into a negotiation with the attitude that if you don’t get what you want, you will learn from it and move on. It’s not an indictment of you or your capabilities.

Out of this grows competence, confidence, and resilience. Overcoming imposter syndrome is a journey and remember that you’re human. You may make mistakes, but you can learn from them. Be kind to yourself.

4. Find mentors

Your manager can be your mentor, but you may also find guidance from people with whom you don’t have a formal mentoring relationship.

If the person you report to has qualities you admire and seems like someone you can learn a lot from, be very intentional and specific about making the request for them to mentor you.

Be open to finding mentors elsewhere. Vice President of Communications for our Small Business and Self-Employed Group, Erica Terry Derryck, is passionate about mentorship and highly recommends surrounding yourself with people who raise your game.

Consider your board of directors. These are the experts in your network whom you can go to for insight or help on a specific issue. One could be the person you talk about money with, another could advise how to give better presentations at work, and so on. And if you get help from them, be sure to return the favor in some way. Mentorship is a two-way street.

5. Maintain your professional health

You hear a lot about mental health these days (and rightfully so), but what about professional health? While determining how to negotiate pay, it can be empowering to look beyond the confines of your employer. It’s good for your professional health.

Attend networking events. Talk to recruiters. Look at other jobs. Know what’s happening in the market as well as in your company. External websites can also be useful, but some of the best insights into the pay gap come from the people you work with and the data and tools your company uses.

Having uncomfortable, transparent conversations with your manager is important. If you can’t win, go back to your core values and see if you can win in other ways. Is there another role you can try for? And if you still can’t get what you want, you may need to talk away from that company.

6. Achieve work-life balance

There are seasons in life when you are busy and focused because you need to seize an opportunity. But don’t forget to carry what’s important to you—your friends, your family, your passions—on your journey.

Instead of climbing the corporate ladder, climb to your vision of what makes you happy. Remember that you’re not your job!

7. Be proactive

Don’t wait around to have your value recognized so that you get that raise or land that job. And don’t wait until you’ve gathered dozens of data points to make your case for better pay.

Do your research and look at feedback about your performance. Ask for the raise. Apply for the job. The worst-case scenario is that you won’t get it. Then you can learn from the experience and try again later.

Start today! Write down what’s important to you. Plan out milestones of what you want to get done by the end of each quarter, and start conversations with your manager early about your goals and their expectations. You can also invest in yourself by hiring an executive coach or finding an accountability partner to help you on your journey.

Questions to consider before a pay negotiation

What is the best way to negotiate pay in an interview?

If you’re wondering how to negotiate pay in an interview, the best strategy is to have information to back up your request. Present concrete figures and data to support why you deserve the rate you request. Giving a range instead of a definite number also shows you’re willing to negotiate, “Based on my research, similar employees in the local area make [average salary]. Based on my background and experience, I believe [this range] would be fair.”  

How do I prepare for a pay negotiation?

Evaluate what you have to offer, research salary data for your position in the local market, and write down important talking points. It’s also helpful to rehearse the conversation with a friend, schedule a time for the discussion, and be confident.  

How can I negotiate a higher hourly rate? 

You can use similar tactics when determining how to negotiate hourly pay. Consider aiming higher than what you actually want, assuming you’ll meet in the middle somewhere. Focus on comparable market value and deliver your request kindly but firmly. 

What are some negotiation tactics to use when asking for a pay raise? 

Some tactics you can use to request a pay raise include: 

  • Remain professional 
  • Go through your whole presentation before requesting 
  • Lay out your history of performance 
  • Have reasons and data to support your raise request 
  • Don’t quote salary averages/requests right away 
  • Put an official time on your boss/manager’s schedule to discuss your raise 

How do I handle a counteroffer from my employer during a pay negotiation? 

If your employer submits a counteroffer, you must be prepared to negotiate. If you genuinely believe in the value you add to the company, hold firm in what you want. If your employer isn’t willing to budge on salary or compensation, maybe there are other perks you can negotiate for, like more vacation time or a hybrid work schedule. 

Want to do more to support Black women?

And finally, in the context of Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and as shared by the panel’s moderator, Tia Bradley, one of the most important things someone can do in the workplace is to advocate for and refer Black women.

Because as you put more women of color in jobs and in spaces where there may only be one today—or none—then we start to move the needle on representation, which brings new ideas and voices to the table, raising the tide for all.


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