Fear of being rejected holds women up when negotiating salary

Samantha Redgrave-Hogg
By Samantha Redgrave-Hogg,
updated on Apr 6, 2023

Woman at laptop

Equal pay for equal work, right? It’s not that simple. A new study reveals that women are much more likely to feel anxious about asking for more money

While pay transparency is a great step toward reducing the gender pay gap and creating a more honest culture within the workplace, one in five women fear that negotiating their salary will damage their careers.

Syndio, the workplace equity platform that provides technology and expert guidance to help companies achieve workplace equity, has released new UK data revealing how the ‘confidence gap’ still deters pay equity between men and women. The fear of being rejected was the most common concern, whilst a lack of confidence was the second most prevalent worry, with just under a quarter (23%) of women revealing this prevents them from negotiating salary. Most women over 45 named this as their dominant feeling for not following through on negotiations, showing how experienced women are disempowered at work. Being seen as ‘pushy’ (21%) is also something women are worried about.

In contrast, men feel much more confident when it comes to the matter. The confidence gap seems to only apply to women, with men feeling well-prepared and self-assured to ask for a salary increase. According to the study, men are in fact twice as likely to ask for higher pay, claiming to feel confident the move won't affect their career; one in six (16%) of men see it as a positive boost to the way they are perceived. On average, men who negotiated a pay rise requested a 7.5% increase while women asked for 6.8%, indicating that confidence can negatively impact equal pay.

Yes, transparency helps but it isn't enough towards closing the gender pay gap. Syndio is calling for effective pay gap strategies that require a more holistic look at workplace culture. Ritu Mohanka, MD of EMEA at Syndio says businesses need to equip their employees with the tools they need to feel empowered and reach their full potential.

“Rewarding men for being more confident in negotiation is inexcusable – businesses need to be accountable for addressing these imbalances”

If you’re feeling affected by this study or feel a lack of confidence when negotiating pay, here are some resources you may find helpful:

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