Shattering Ceilings on International Women’s Day: Influence and Negotiation Strategies for Women

Let’s take a second to acknowledge International Women’s Day and celebrate work cultures that not only welcome women but embrace all they bring to the table. With women still underrepresented in the boardroom, the gender pay gap still prevalent, and that ever-present glass ceiling still looming large, now is the time to amplify our efforts. It all starts with taking influencing and negotiating skills for women to new heights and putting in the time and effort to use them to break down barriers, challenge norms, and pave new paths.  

The Power of Negotiation and Influence

The path forward for women in the corporate world is still an uphill climb. While women comprise 47% of the civilian labor force in the U.S., they only represent 35% of workers in the highest-paying jobs. However, with the number of women in C-suite roles increasing from 17% to 28% since 2015, it’s clear that negotiation and influence skills are playing a part. 

Negotiation Strategies for Women

Understanding how to negotiate is necessary for anyone looking to advance their career. For women, this skill takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to breaking down centuries-old barriers. 

The first step? Preparation. Know your worth and the playing field you’re stepping onto. Research and understanding set the stage, especially when statistics show men often outperform women in economic outcomes of negotiations. Only 7% of women negotiate their starting salaries compared to 57% of men—a gap that, over time, can lead to a significant earnings disparity.

Being assertive plays a key role, too. Articulate your needs and goals without hesitation—remember, negotiation isn’t a battlefield but a balancing act of compromise and collaboration. Good tactics could include ‘asking,’ ‘bending,’ and ‘shaping,’ but what takes negotiation to another level is building solid relationships, having emotional intelligence, and coming in with a clear head. Practice also makes perfect; like any skill, negotiation becomes more natural with time and experience.    

Building Influence at Work

Stepping out of your comfort zone to be more visible in the workspace can be terrifying. But strategically building strong networks and showcasing your expertise is the way to do it properly and elevate your influence. Go to all the industry events or office gatherings you can. Turn them into a stage where your insights shine, and your initiatives captivate. Be proactive, increase your presence, and make your voice heard. You’re intelligent and gifted, and you know it. Make your organization realize it, too. You will see this pay off over time.  

Guidance and a helping hand can also help. That’s why 67% of women acknowledge mentorship’s critical role in advancing their careers. Yet, it remains underutilized. Only 27% of women in senior roles have had a mentor, compared to 38% of men. Coupled with strategic alliances within your network, aligning with those who can broaden your influence, you transition from a participant to an influencer.  

Supporting Women’s Success in the Workplace

Now, let’s shift the focus from women to companies and why they should prioritize making the women on their team feel valued. That means opening doors for women and supporting them on every step of their corporate journey, from the day they join your team to years from now when they’re decision-makers.  

Investment in Leadership Development Programs 

Investing in women’s leadership development isn’t just ethical; it’s smart business. Stats show how much women excel at taking initiative, acting resiliently, practicing self-development, driving for results, and displaying high integrity and honesty. In fact, according to a 2019 Harvard Business Review study, women scored higher than men in 84% of leadership skills. It’s no wonder why firms leading in gender diversity on their executive teams are 25% more likely to enjoy above-average profitability, and companies with more than 30% executives women outperform their less diverse counterparts. These programs also help women springboard into senior roles by providing them with a solid toolkit of leadership skills, from strategic thinking to assertive communication to confidence.

Gender Equality Initiatives and Policies

Finally, let’s put words into action. For organizations looking to support women’s professional growth and contribute to closing the gender gap, here are five strategic initiatives to consider:

  • Implement Flexible Working Arrangements: Offer part-time, job-sharing, remote work, and flexible hours to help employees juggle their professional and personal lives. Women often shoulder the brunt of caregiving responsibilities at home and will appreciate this.
  • Commit to Equal Pay: Guarantee men and women have equal compensation for the same work. Regular pay audits, transparent pay scales, and objective criteria for promotions and raises can help achieve this.
  • Enforce Anti-Discrimination Policies: Establish and rigorously apply policies against gender discrimination. Address overt discrimination and subtler forms of bias and harassment to create a safe and welcoming environment.
  • Promote Mentorship and Sponsorship: Develop programs that offer women guidance, support, and advocacy. Doing so can play a pivotal role in advancing women’s careers.
  • Expand Leadership Development Opportunities: Equip women with the skills and opportunities they need to ascend to leadership positions. Prepare them to take on roles with greater responsibility.

Final Words

This International Women’s Day, let’s appreciate how negotiation and influence can empower women at work. We need to see more than talk from organizations; we need action that supports women stepping into leadership roles. Let’s rally as a society to break down the barriers and build work environments where fairness and opportunity become the standard. It’s time to change the narrative, one empowered woman at a time.

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