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Is that your best offer? How negotiations can drive gender and cultural wage gaps


Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

When recruiting, your goal is simply to make a successful hire, and crafting a great offer is a critical part of the process. But did you know that your approach to offers and offer negotiation can perpetuate wage disparity along gender and cultural divides?


In 20+ years of recruiting, I’ve seen time and again that some people will ask for a better offer, and others will not. The reasons may be cultural, societal or something else - but it really doesn’t matter who or why. The fact is if you don’t lead with your best offer, you will end up with compensation packages that favour the negotiators, and penalize everyone else. 


So why don’t we lead with our best possible offer? Are we trying to save an arbitrary $5-10k on as many hires as possible? Do you think that your employees won’t figure this out and realize that you were bargaining when they came on board? 


You may say, “negotiation is a great skill - so we’re paying for that.” But then why do many companies not bring their best offer forward when hiring for roles that do not have negotiation as a required skill? Say you offer a job to a product marketer - offering $110k, when $120k is on the table for the candidate who asks for it. You risk an inexcusable $10k salary gap if a woman doesn’t ask for the extra, and a man does. Data found in the Harvard Business Review shows that, “half of the men had negotiated their job offers as compared to only one eighth of the women”. You can’t know for sure the outcome, but the risk is huge. You also face the chance of candidates flat out declining your offer, when you could have landed them happily with just a little more.


Thankfully, many great companies will always lead with their best offer. They take the awkward salary negotiation out of the process for every candidate - which is a huge relief. These hiring managers go through the hypothetical negotiation before they put pen to paper. “What is the best offer that I can put together - where I’d be prepared to walk if I needed to go any higher?” This is the only number that matters. If you’re tempted to ask “how little can I get them for?” ... you should save that tactic for buying a used car.


By putting your best offer forward every time, you won’t compromise fiscal responsibility but will be on the road to growing a company built on equity, with employees who are valued for their most meaningful skills and contributions.


Kristina McDougall is founder and principal of Artemis Canada, a boutique strategic recruitment search firm serving Canada's Innovation Economy. Kristina spends her days helping people grow their companies, succeed in their roles as leaders, and bring new ideas and products to life and to market.


Published originally on LinkedIn.