25 famous women on asking for a raise
Setting up a meeting with the boss to ask for a bump in salary can be a loaded, anxiety-inducingexperience for anyone — even when you clearly deserve a raise. Women in the workforce already have to deal with the ugly realities of the gender pay gap, and failing to negotiate a higher salary at the onset can become a barrier years down the line. According to research from Glassdoor, 68 percent of women accepted the salary they were initially offered and did not negotiate.
In the spirit of Taking Care of Business, we hope to lower that percentage. We've culled real, honest wisdom on how to negotiate from women like Jennifer Lawrence, Oprah Winfrey, and Lilly Ledbetter, the equal-pay activist whose lawsuit against Goodyear ultimately led to the Fair Pay Act that bears her name. Read on for their best advice.
"I went over and interviewed with Goodyear in 1978, and I worked for Goodyear tire company for 19 years before I found out that the males were making 40 percent more than I was making for working the same job. Someone left me a little torn sheet of paper and tipped me off anonymously, listing my base pay and their base pay. The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw it was how much I had lost on overtime. I thought about my retirement and my 401(k) and my social security, because what you earn is what determines your retirement. I was just humiliated and embarrassed, to say the least, that a major corporation could do me that way. The company I worked for told me when I [was] hired there: 'If you discuss your pay, you will not have a job here.' So no one ever discussed their pay. I never knew. I had no idea how much someone else was making ... After I got that tip, I filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the wheels went into motion with the company." — Self, January 2016
"When the Sony hack happened and I found out how much less I was being paid than the lucky people with dicks, I didn't get mad at Sony. I got mad at myself. I failed as a negotiator because I gave up early ... But if I'm honest with myself, I would be lying if I didn't say there was an element of wanting to be liked that influenced my decision to close the deal without a real fight. I didn't want to seem 'difficult' or 'spoiled.' At the time, that seemed like a fine idea, until I saw the payroll on the Internet and realized every man I was working with definitely didn't worry about being 'difficult' or 'spoiled.' ... Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale, and Bradley Cooper all fought and succeeded in negotiating powerful deals for themselves. If anything, I'm sure they were commended for being fierce and tactical, while I was busy worrying about coming across as a brat and not getting my fair share." — Lenny Letter, October 2015
"When I read Jennifer [Lawrence]'s piece yesterday, I said, 'Wow, this sounds like 1985.' Because when I first started The Oprah Show ... we syndicated, and I have all women producers, 5 women ... I went in and I said, "Everybody needs raises.' And the management at the time said, 'Why do they need raises? Why do a bunch of girls need raises? They're not married, they don't have children, they don't their own houses.' This was in 1985 in Chicago ... I said if you don't give them money, then I'm going to sit down." — CBS This Morning, October 2015
"Every single interviewer asked, 'Isn't this an amazing time for women in comedy?' People really wanted us to be openly grateful — 'Thank you so much!' — and we were like, 'No, it's a terrible time. If you were to really look at it, the boys are still getting more money for a lot of garbage, while the ladies are hustling and doing amazing work for less.'" — Town & Country, March 2016
"I was like, 'I want to be paid the same as Kevin [Spacey].' It was a perfect paradigm. There are very few films or TV shows where the male, the patriarch, and the matriarch are equal. And they are in House of Cards. I was looking at statistics and Claire Underwood's character was more popular than [Frank's] for a period of time. So I capitalized on that moment. I was like, 'You better pay me or I'm going to go public.' And they did." — The Huffington Post, May 2016
On her offer for The Devil Wears Prada:
"The offer was to my mind slightly, if not insulting, not perhaps reflective of my actual value to the project. There was my 'goodbye moment,' and then they doubled the offer. I was 55, and I had just learned, at a very late date, how to deal on my own behalf." — Variety, June 2016
"The negotiation comes to a standstill and I have to make a choice, which a lot of women do. I can walk away. But I choose not to ... This is an issue not just about women's pay; we need to work on how women are viewed in society and then the pay will be reflected in that ... Right now time is more important to me. So that's what I negotiate because any time I'm working, I'm not spending with my daughter." — Elle U.K., November 2016
"I took my last job [before my husband entered the White House] because of my boss's reaction to my family situation. I didn't have a babysitter, so I took Sasha right in there with me in her crib and her rocker. I was still nursing, so I was wearing my nursing shirt. I told my boss, 'This is what I have: two small kids. My husband is running for the U.S. Senate. I will not work part time. I need flexibility. I need a good salary. I need to be able to afford babysitting. And if you can do all that, and you're willing to be flexible with me because I will get the job done, I can work hard on a flexible schedule.' I was very clear. And he said yes to everything." — Parade, June 2014
"The way that Jenni [Konner] and I work, and I don't mean to sound Pollyannaish, is we tend to think if we're working with someone that we're close to, if we're collaborating with another woman, and we decide to be a little bit generous in a negotiation, it's not because we're weak or afraid. It's because we know that that comes back to you in another way ... we never said, "Oh, I wish I wasn't generous." Money is one of the ways that you let people know that you appreciate them. When we're getting into collaborative relationships with other artists, we want them to feel appreciated. Also it's important to note that, just because you know what you're worth, doesn't mean it's always easy to ask for it. And I've learned a lot from Jenni in this department. I think that especially towards the beginning of my career, my people-pleasing instincts really got in the way." — LinkedIn, January 2016
"At Reddit, I was encouraged by CEO Yishan Wong's compensation philosophy. He advocated for fair pay by minimizing the amount of negotiation and setting compensation by role. When he left and I stepped in as interim CEO, I made no-negotiation, scale-based pay standard for all employees. We put the onus on the company to pay fairly instead of on candidates to negotiate fair pay. We decided fair was what a strong negotiator would get — market rates at the high end based on experience and role. We believed that paying high market rates and fair compensation across the whole company was key to hiring and retaining the best talent." — The Hollywood Reporter, December 2015
"I'm sure you are aware that Apple Music will be offering a free 3 month trial to anyone who signs up for the service. I'm not sure you know that Apple Music will not be paying writers, producers, or artists for those three months. I find it to be shocking, disappointing, and completely unlike this historically progressive and generous company ... These are not the complaints of a spoiled, petulant child. These are the echoed sentiments of every artist, writer and producer in my social circles who are afraid to speak up publicly because we admire and respect Apple so much. We simply do not respect this particular call ... Three months is a long time to go unpaid, and it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing. I say this with love, reverence, and admiration for everything else Apple has done ... But I say to Apple with all due respect, it's not too late to change this policy and change the minds of those in the music industry who will be deeply and gravely affected by this. We don't ask you for free iPhones. Please don't ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation." — Tumblr, June 2015
"We have this expression, Christy and I. We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day." — Vogue, October 1990
"When I was negotiating with Facebook's founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg for my compensation, he made me an offer that I thought was fair. We had been having dinner several nights a week for more than a month and a half, discussing Facebook's mission and his vision for the future. I was ready to accept the job. No, I was dying to accept the job. My husband, Dave, kept telling me to negotiate, but I was afraid of doing anything that might botch the deal. I could play hardball, but then maybe Mark would not want to work with me. Was it worth it when I knew that ultimately I was going to accept the offer? I concluded it was not. But right before I was about to say yes, my exasperated brother-in-law, Marc Bodnick, blurted out, 'Damn it, Sheryl! Why are you going to make less than any man would make to do the same job?'
My brother-in-law didn't know the details of my deal. His point was simply that no man at my level would consider taking the first offer. This was motivating. I went back to Mark and said that I couldn't accept, but I prefaced it by telling him, 'Of course you realize that you're hiring me to run your deal teams, so you want me to be a good negotiator. This is the only time you and I will ever be on opposite sides of the table.' Then I negotiated hard, followed by a nervous night wondering if I had blown it. But Mark called me the next day. He resolved the gap by improving my offer, extending the terms of my contract from four to five years and allowing me to buy into the company as well. His creative solution not only closed the deal, but also set us up for a longer-term alignment of interests." — Lean In, March 2013
Diane von Furstenberg
"The first questions you have to ask yourself are, 'Do I deserve it?' and, 'Why?' Be hard on yourself while you question yourself. If you think you deserve it, then go for it and explain the reason. Do NOT whine. No tears in the eyes, no complaints. Go with the positives and the positives only. Explain that you deserve the promotion and that with that, you will build ahead for the company. If you are absolutely sure that you deserve it, you will get it. But do NOT be a victim, be a leader. Since I have worked for myself since I was 22, I could not go and ask for a promotion, but I often had to make presentations and sell myself. Sometimes I was turned down and I always tried to turn the rejection into something positive. It is not easy, but almost always there is a better opportunity hidden behind the lost one. The lesson I took from those rejections is that I look at the glass half full and not half empty!" — The Cut, February 2013
"I'm having such a problem with these conversations. I understand why they are coming up but maybe it's a British thing. I don't like talking about money; it's a bit vulgar isn't it? I don't think that's a very nice conversation to have publically at all. I'm quite surprised by these conversations to be honest, simply because it seems quite a strange thing to be discussing out in the open like that. I am a very lucky woman and I'm quite happy with how things are ticking along." — BBC Newsbeat, November 2015
"In my career, I've tried to use negotiation to ensure I'm being paid fairly. As a freelance videographer and editor, I constantly had to set my price points, which was hard in the beginning because I honestly didn't know my worth. In addition to that, I was so eager to work that I was pretty much willing to work for any price point. As I grew more confident in my work, I began to set my prices higher. Sometimes I'd get resistance and sometimes I wouldn't get the job at all. I'd often have to convince them that I was worth the money. Something needs to change. And smarter negotiating isn't enough, because the pay gap isn't my fault or any woman's fault. And it can't just be on women to fix this problem. There is a role for employers and elected officials here, too ... A lot of us were raised with the belief that it's not polite to talk about money. If we want to close the pay gap, it's time to stop being polite and start talking about equal pay." — The Root, October 2015
"One thing I learned along the way in business is the necessity to be unapologetic about asking for how much money you deserve. At a very early stage in my rap career, I was making six figures for shows. If I heard there was another rapper making that, I thought, 'you know what? I get out there and demand or command a crowd. I get out there and make my fans happy. I get out there and give a real show. I want that, too.' And I pushed myself to be better with my showmanship, but I also decided, you know what? I want to be compensated well ... If you know you're great at what you do, don't ever be ashamed to ask for the top dollar in your field."" – Time, April 2016
On negotiating equal pay for her role in Snow White and the Huntsman sequel
"I have to give them credit because once I asked, they said yes. They did not fight it. And maybe that's the message: That we just need to put our foot down. This is a good time for us to bring this to a place of fairness, and girls need to know that being a feminist is a good thing. It doesn't mean that you hate men. It means equal rights. If you're doing the same job, you should be compensated and treated in the same way." —- Elle U.K., June 2015
"[My father] also taught me how to negotiate ... These sharp negotiating skills also came in handy on the job market. With my summer gig, my father asked, a couple days ago, if I had negotiated and I said, 'Wow that didn't even cross my mind. I was just excited to be paid to be a visiting writer.' He sighed and said, 'We still have work to do.' He never stops parenting or worrying or trying to make sure I get everything I deserve." — "Let Me Say I'm Fine," roxanegay.com, June 2011
"I think ... in a way, [Peggy's] naiveté is her strongest sort of trait. It's really what's gotten her everywhere. [Laughs] I mean, just the fact that she's naïve enough to voice her opinion. She's naïve enough to go and ask for a raise. She's naïve enough to insert herself into these situations. It's a kind of lack of fear that gets her into these rooms, and it's kind of gottenher where she is." —Rolling Stone, April 2014
"In the startup world, you learn this lesson the hard way really quickly, and that is if you don't go out and try to get something, you won't get it. The lesson is you always need to at least ask the question. Maybe you'll get told no. That's okay, but at least you put yourself out there. And it feels uncomfortable, but once you start acting as your own advocate, it becomes more comfortable and I think, you'll see results ... I never asked for raises and [unsurprisingly] never got them. I was so scared to upset the apple cart ... It's just keeping a form of communication open and negotiating. I never learned these skills growing up. I always felt lucky to have a job where I had a decent pay and I never asked for more." — Elle, June 2015
"I spend most of my time trying to get more money at the front end because companies can be very cheap about increasing your compensation when you work there. So I try to get enough money to be satisfied there regardless of what happens, and if annual reviews are somewhere in the 3-5% range, that's fine. Normally, I do a lot of research on places like Glassdoor and I look at not only my desired job title but also comparable titles in other industries. Then I decide what I am happy asking for and add 25% to that figure. I assume the hiring folks will negotiate me down so that keeps me in a range I like." — Elle, January 2015
"The most ironic that comes to mind is that Time magazine asked me to write an essay about the early women's movement. It was a long time ago — it was maybe in the '70s. First of all, they asked me to do it because they didn't have a woman on staff. Secondly, I did it under deadline because it never occurred to me that they would pay me less than they did men writing the same essay. Time had a page in each issue in which there was a personal essay. When my agent got the check, he told me that I was getting paid less than men who wrote the same essay. So, I wrote the editor of Time and complained and he sent me a Gucci purse. I took the purse back to Gucci because I needed the money and tried to get cash for it and I couldn't." — Fusion, December 2015
"It's proven now, as opposed to just being a theory. We know that women are paid less. Our producer on the film talks about when she applied to be a dishwasher at her local restaurant and it was advertised as 50 pence for men and 30 pence an hour for women, and that was only in the '60s or '70s ... I'm sure my male counterparts were paid more than I was. It's important that our conversation isn't just about Hollywood. It shouldn't be a self-serving thing; it should be used to have a wider conversation, because it's the same in all industries .... If we're going to talk about it, we should use it as a platform, as opposed to just try and fix it for ourselves." — Vulture, November 2015
"On 'Suddenly Susan,' I went door-to-door and asked [what people were making]. I was very curious because I had a good experience on that show. I got good reviews. I started doing a lot more stand-up. I did a HBO special and a lot of Comedy Central specials, and guest spots on 'Seinfeld.' I didn't get a raise after season one, two or three. But after three years, I said, 'In all fairness, I think I should make equal pay.' I went to the head of Warner Bros. TV. I'm not kidding. I went to Peter Roth's office myself. I said, 'Look, I've been on the show for three years. You've got to give me some kind of raise.' It was an all-out brawl. I wrote down a number on a napkin, because I was making a joke about how it was like a car sale. I got a raise. I still didn't make equal pay to what the guys were making.
When you're me, this isn't a comedy situation. But I still have to do it with a wink and my tongue in my cheek. If I go there as a ballsy chick, it turns guys off. Because they are not used to a self-starting woman like myself who truly came from working as a temp in Forest Park, Ill. I try to do things that they really can't argue with. If I'm trying to get equal pay, I take my f–king awards and accomplishments, and I bring them to the table." – Variety, November 2015
Check out more from Jennifer Lawrence in the gallery below.
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