Women In Finance Need to Be Aware of Negotiation Approaches

For women in finance, there are five different approaches in negotiations, according to Joe Holt, Professor at the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame.

“A fair number of people aren’t that strategic about what they’re doing, what approach they’re taking, they just kind of do whatever it is that occurs to them to do,” he said.

On a recent Security Traders Association (STA) Women in Finance (WIF) Webinar, Holt, who teaches Negotiations in the college’s MBA and MNA programs shared his insight to help women in the industry better navigate these situations.

According to Holt, there are five different paths that people can take, which are avoiding, accommodating, competing, compromising, and collaborating.

“Each style has certain strengths and certain weaknesses. It’s just being more self aware about what are the strengths and weaknesses, and which style should you deploy in which situation,” he said.

According to Holt, many women tend to rely on the idea of fairness, believing that they will be recognized for their effort: “As we all know, that often doesn’t happen often.”

Holt thinks that women are starting to negotiate more than they used to: “I still think that a fair number of women has some hesitancy though when it comes to negotiations.”

He added that if women act in ways that are characteristically masculine, “too aggressive, too pushy, or in other words less pleasant,” then they get penalized by men and women. 

“One of the explanations I’ve heard is that both men and women have these stereotypical assumptions about what men are like and what women are like. That’s something we really need to work on to change,” he said.

Consequently, women can be less likely to negotiate.

Holt further said that a tremendous advantage that women have is that they tend to view negotiations as collaborative where both people benefit from it, whereas men are a little more inclined to view it as kind of a contest to competition, where the objective is to win.

“When you look at most of the behaviors that are helpful in conflict or negotiation situations, women are more likely to engage in those than men. And if you look at most of the behaviors that are harmful, men are much more likely to negotiate to engage in those behaviors than women,” he added.

When speaking about recommendations, he said; “One of the best piece of advice with negotiation is connect what it is you want the other person to do with something that they care about.”

“Stay positive, always have a clear goal in mind and keep your eye on that prize. And then stay strategic, only say and do things that will help you achieve your goal,” he said.

“Do your homework and have data available that will help them see how it’s actually good for them to agree to what it is that you are proposing, when it comes to closing the gender pay gap.” 

“For instance, if you can point out that companies that are doing that well, are attracting high level female talent a lot more, that’s something that a lot of execs are gonna care about. Make it easier for them to say “yes” by adding that kind of data,” he said.

Holt added that women need to focus on their advantages rather than disadvantage before negotiating.

Women also need to feel good about what they have to offer if they’re negotiating a job offer, or asking for a raise or promotion. 

“Feel good about who you are and what you’ve accomplished, and base what you’re asking on the value that you bring to the table and what you’ve accomplished for your team, what you’ve accomplished for your company,” he said.