Can Your Rely On Karma for Your Next Raise?

October 17th, 2014

When asked about the pay gap between men and women, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that women should trust karma instead of asking for pay raises. According to him, the solution to unfair pay is to trust the system and leave your career and advancement in the hands of karma. Really? Even though he has apologized for his remarks, the conversation is still out there and making headline news. That’s a good thing. It’s been a catalyst for conversation, introspection and assessment by many corporations and individuals. Not to mention those of us, like myself, who often advocate and teach women tools for advancement.

How is karma working out for the women at Microsoft? According to Glassdoor, a website that contains information about jobs and salaries, men at Microsoft make more than women in similar positions. Men that work as a senior software development engineer make around $137,000 per year compared to $129,000 for women in the same position.

I have to wonder how many other leaders out there were thinking the same thing and chuckled when Nadella said what they were thinking all along but were too afraid to say it themselves.  Or as Dr. Patty Ann Tublin, author of the upcoming book, Money Can Buy You Happiness: Secrets Women Need to Know to Get Paid What They Are Worth,  points out, “Nadella’s statement reveals one of the many unconscious biases women face in the workforce regarding both pay and how they are perceived as professionals.  Can you imagine Nadella asking the question: ‘How should men go about asking for a raise?’ Have you ever heard it suggested that men should negotiate for anything with karma? Covert childhood messages surface: it is unladylike and unattractive for women to embrace the desire to make money.”

Research by the White House on equal pay revealed that the gender gap in pay continues to persist. Women are earning only 77 to 78 cents to the same dollar as their male counterparts.  The pay gap is even greater for African-American and Latina women, with African-American women earning 64 cents and Latina women earning 56 cents for every dollar earned by a Caucasian man.

It doesn’t seem to me that the system is actually working, at least not well enough for the women who make up more than 50% of the workforce today. Nor do I think the karmic option is the way to go.

How about asking for what you want?

We can blame others, or karma, if we like. But the more empowered way to go is to actually figure out what you’re worth in the market place. Then go for it.

Here’s what Victoria Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates, has to say, “If you haven’t had a raise in some time (or have received only incremental increases) pull out your old job description from the cobwebs on your in-box and see whether you’ve taken on new duties.

Next, go to, or to see whether you should be receiving a promotion together with a new job title. If that’s the case, search these three online resources to see what the current market value is for people in your new job. I’ll wager it’s more than a little bit more (2 or 3%) than you’re making now. From this information you can benchmark what others are making to state your case for a raise.

Your next strategic step is to integrate this information into a pointed conversation by saying, ‘Right now in the open market, someone doing my job is being paid $X. I’m hoping we can discuss ways in which we can bring my total compensation package in line with how my job has evolved.’  If your company prides itself on paying its people competitive salaries, then that is powerful phrasing.

Silence is golden. So wait. There’s nothing more useful to a negotiator than silence. It makes your bargaining partner eager to fill the space and you’ll want to learn as many of their thoughts as you can. The point is, you do not need to, nor should you wait to be noticed, to be selected or to let the system work for you when you have the power to control your career and your financial future. The days of women allowing unconscious and conscious biases to interfere with economic freedom needs to be over. The power is in your hands. In order to change anything you must be clear about your options—steadfast and persistent.”

Maria Gamb is the CEO and Founder of the leadership training and consulting firm, NMS Communications.  She is also the Amazon Top 10 best selling author of Healing the Corporate World. Website: Twitter: @mariagamb

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