Earlier this summer, I wrote that
major criticism with the book
by Sheryl Sandberg
is that it doesn't contain enough practical and realistic advice
for regular folks.
To stay on the theme of girl power, I want to highlight a book
that I'd suggest to both women and men for actionable "lean in"
Women Don't Ask
by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever
. I advocate reading the book in addition to (here comes
the shameless plug) checking out
three suggestions for realistic ways to lean in
The main message in
Women Don't Ask
: Don't be afraid to request what you "want, need and deserve at
home and at work."
In fact, the authors point out that
asking can have real financial consequences. For example,
not asking for a higher salary when first starting out in the
working world - something many women tend to be guilty of. Ms.
Babcock and Ms. Laschever write that in their study of students
graduating with a master's degree, only 7% of the women
negotiated their starting salary, while 57% of the men did.
This was despite the fact that the career services department of
the university strongly advised students to negotiate their job
Unsurprisingly, the men started out with an average salary
that was nearly $5,000 higher than that of the women. While
$5,000 might not seem like a big difference, Ms. Babcock and Ms.
Laschever did the math to show the financial impact of this
single negotiation over the course of a career.
Assuming the men started at an annual salary of $30,000 and
the women at $25,000 and they all get identical 3% annual pay
increases, by the time the students are 60, the men are making
$15,000 more per year. And if you assume that the men bank the
difference every year in an account earning 3%, by age 60, the
men would have $568,000. That can translate to a more
It's clear that not asking can be bad for a bank account, so
how can people be better at asking for what they want? While Ms.
Babcock and Ms. Laschever focus their tips on women, I think many
of their tips can be useful to both sexes, including these:
Assume everything is negotiable.
According to Ms. Babcock and Ms. Laschever, one of the reasons
why women don't negotiate more is that they tend to perceive
their circumstances as more fixed and absolute than they really
are. One of my favorite quotes is from
, an otherwise OK movie, when Cinderella's wicked stepmother
says: "Darling, nothing is final until you're dead and even
then, I'm sure God negotiates." That is the attitude that
the authors suggest we have when they point out that it's
important to make a mental shift and "see the world as a
'negotiable' place." And to lessen some of the anxiety
associated with negotiating, they suggest trying to move the
the negotiation from "
contest to cooperation
" - in other words, let the conversation unfold as a
collaborative discussion rather than an adversarial
Ask for benefits beyond raises.
In addition to raises, the authors suggest asking for other
benefits like more vacation time, a flexible work schedule or
new opportunities like being able to work on a certain project.
These non-financial factors can go a long way to helping
you enjoy work more and maybe even find a better work/life
Set high negotiation goals.
According to Ms. Babcock and Ms. Laschever, even when women do
negotiate, they often don't ask for enough, either because the
goals they set for themselves are not high enough or their
information network is not robust enough to ensure they know
the limits of what's possible. But according to the authors,
"there's a direct correlation between goals and outcomes."
In other words, the more you ask for, the more you
This book covers a number of the same issues as
but in my opinion it offers better practical advice for how to
change our own outcomes and society at large. I highly
recommended it (although it's
nowhere near as funny as
), especially to women, to advisors of women and to those afraid
of negotiation. In fact, it serves as the basis for a
program we have here at BlackRock called "The Art of the Ask"
designed to help women understand the importance of negotiation
and how they can negotiate more frequently with more positive
Source: "Women Don't Ask" by Linda Babcock and Sara
Sue Thompson, CIMA, Managing Director, is Head of the
Registered Investment Advisor Group, overseeing the firm's
iShares and 529 sales efforts with registered investment
advisors, family offices and asset managers.
Sue is a regular contributor to
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