Training on negotiating salary may help close the gender pay gap

Added by on April 23, 2012

San Francisco, CA, USA – With falling real wages for the middle class and a persistent income gap between men and women, one study shows how simple training on the topic of negotiating salary could hold the key to reversing this trend.

After conducting a meta-analysis of over a dozen available studies on negotiating salary and asking for a raise, the team at uncovered three startling facts.

  • According to a March, 2012 Accenture report, 57% of women in the workplace are dissatisfied with their jobs (citing the belief that they are underpaid as their primary frustration)
  • Nearly 50% have never even asked for a raise
  • Of those who did ask for a raise, a full 88% were given an increase in salary, incentives, or both

David Larson, Principal at San Francisco based, a professional consultancy, estimates that over a billion dollars’ worth of raises and promotions are going unclaimed each year by women across the country.

“In the case of women in particular, there are additional barriers preventing them from standing up and asking for the money they feel they deserve,” says Larson. “Most notably, 59% of women surveyed in the Accenture report revealed that they take advantage of some type of flexible scheduling provided by their company. This arrangement is a classic example of the ‘golden handcuffs’ power play that keeps women tied to underpaying jobs. Other unfair disadvantages include gender stereotypes, biases against ambitious women, and structural issues.”

Larson estimates that basic salary negotiations training could reduce these problems…but it’s no easy task.

According to Larson, “Women are socialized from youth not to ruffle any feathers, so I have to teach them tricks to de-program as much of this internal wiring as possible. One of the things I ask my female clients to do is practice walking directly at people. Literally, when they are walking down the street I have them choose a man about 15 yards away and then walk right at him in a straight line. Without fail, every one of the women I’ve worked with has reported back to me in surprise that the male target actually moved out of the way. That’s an incredible confidence booster for women who have never tried it.”

Larson, whose early career focused on negotiating international trade deals on behalf of US multinationals, has great expectations for what can be accomplished by those who regularly practice negotiating salary.

“I’ve seen women get pay raises of $20,000 or more after a couple of short phone calls,” says Larson. “In my mind, that means we’re helping close the pay gap one woman at a time.”

Still, despite some impressive results, Larson laments that most of his private coaching clients are not women at all, but men. “For every woman I work with, I get a dozen requests from men,” says Larson. “It’s nothing short of frustrating, but women just don’t seem to be as interested in learning about negotiating salary. And the worst part is that because they tend to be more severely underpaid than men, I’m usually able to help them get more money than I can for my male clients…it’s just a matter of getting them to ask in the right way.”

In recognition of the 22% pay gap between men and women in the United States, Larson’s firm offers its female clients a 22% discount off the price that it charges men (for the exact same service). “I thought that was poetic justice,” says Larson “but I’m also trying to make a serious point.”

Larson and his team are working diligently to create a new online salary negotiations training program that he’s hoping will help people at all pay levels to learn these important skills. They are planning to launch their online training program on June 15th.

Until then, their website contains free weekly articles on the topics of negotiating salary and asking for a raise. Their most popular tips on the topic of asking for a raise can be found here.

About Negotiating Salary .com, based in San Francisco works mainly with corporate clients to provide salary negotiations counselling to employees in transition. Larson’s firm helps these employees get higher starting salaries at their new jobs. Corporate clients typically provide this specialized training as part of their outplacement package.

The company also works with select individuals who are preparing to negotiate a salary or ask for a raise.

The company employs a dedicated team of negotiations experts, education professionals, and product developers. was founded by David Larson, a Wharton MBA, negotiations expert, and former business communications professor in the graduate program at AUCA.

The company can be found online at

David Larson