Don’t empower me. Pay me: How to fight for your worth and ask for more money

Rita Verma, EVP and Head – HR, DDB Mudra Group shares advice from a headhunter’s perspective.

The experience of being the only woman in the corporate decision-making room is a very familiar one for me—and unlike Oprah Winfrey, I have to admit that I haven’t always loved it. To be absolutely true, initially, it was actually quite intimidating. Over time, of course, there was pride, a responsibility to work towards bringing in more women into important conversations, and a realisation that I had the influence to make that happen.

In that journey, I have more often been on the other side of the table as a talent head, where I have observed how men and women ask what they believe they deserve—be it roles, positions, or fair pay.

Having worked for 22 years, I have always believed that rewards should be asked based on your role and achievements.

Definitely, there used to be a difference in how men and women were evaluated for roles and promotions even five years ago.

Somehow, a woman’s personal life would always be brought up in conversations, while that did not seem to matter in the case of men.

Even today, I find ‘readiness’ for a role or a position being considered more for women. If men display confidence, they are considered ready. However, it has been heartening to see women starting to realise their own worth and value. That is what gives them the confidence to ask for what they deserve. There is still hesitation, diffidence, and I am sure a lot of anxiety when women choose to do it, but I definitely see it happening.

During our Phyllis India conversations (Phyllis India is DDB Mudra Group’s women’s leadership program), this subject of negotiating for what you are worth has come up repeatedly. And we have seen our talent derive courage from the inspiring speakers, and their peers, to be more objective about their capability and worth. The asking for it comes next. The collective voice gives strength to the individual voice for sure.

Recently I came across this lovely quote of Janet Foutty, Executive Chair of the Board at Deloitte US — “Be fearless. Know how good you are, and then know that you are at least 50 percent better than you think you are.”

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