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Ladies, it’s time to ask for a pay rise

By Jack Campbell | |7 minute read

New research has shown that a concerning number of Aussie women are missing out on pay rises. With cost-of-living pressures affecting just about everyone, turning these statistics around is important.

A recent study from Indeed revealed that more than half (54 per cent) of women across the country have never asked for a pay rise. Disappointingly, a third said it’s because they fear there will be negative consequences if they do.

Indeed’s career expert, Sally McKibbin, noted that this data is a worrying sign for workplace equality: “These findings indicate there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to levelling the playing field for women in the workplace.”


“However, it’s worth noting that despite widespread apprehension when it comes to asking for better pay, such requests often result in a positive outcome. Our findings show that of those who have asked for a raise in the past, three in four women were given an increase, with 42 per cent awarded the pay they requested and 36 per cent receiving a raise but lower than they asked for.”

Despite the apprehension to ask for a raise, 47 per cent of respondents believe they aren’t paid enough for the work they do. Meanwhile, half said their compensation package is too low.

Removing barriers and creating a psychologically safe workplace where women feel confident to stand up for themselves is important. There’s clearly still a long way to go, as 44 per cent don’t feel comfortable asking at all. A lack of transparency is also an issue, with 21 per cent of women saying they’re unclear on what the salary expectation should be for their role.

“Women understand the value of their work and want fair compensation, but sadly, the majority feel disempowered because of a system that has long favoured men with better pay, better roles, and better opportunities. This broken system has told women they are less valued in the workplace, so it’s no wonder many lack the confidence to ask for a raise,” said McKibbin.

“These insights highlight an opportunity for employers to create a safe and inclusive environment for women that empowers them to request the compensation they deserve, confidently and without fear of repercussion.”

Career progression was another key concern for Aussie women, with nearly half (49 per cent) believing it’s easier for men to progress in their careers. The main reasons for inequality were noted as sexism or unconscious bias in society (61 per cent), caregiving responsibilities (57 per cent), and maternity leave policy (47 per cent).

McKibbin continued: “We know women want to grow their careers and to see greater representation of women in leadership positions. In fact, more than half say they are dissatisfied with the number of women leaders in their workplace.”

“Employers who remove the barriers women face in progressing their careers will realise the enormous strategic benefits that diverse and inclusive leadership brings.”

How to ask for a pay rise

The million-dollar question is how should you go about asking for a pay rise? According to McKibbin, being tactical with timing and preparedness is crucial.

“Timing is an important factor when asking for a raise. In many businesses, there are times when it is natural or convenient to talk about pay – for example, performance reviews, the successful completion of a project, or the end of the financial year can be an opportune time to discuss your compensation,” she explained.

“Once you’ve got the timing right, identify a salary range or percentage increase in pay that you’d be happy with. Note that 3 per cent is considered an average to generous pay increase. Next, research salary trends online to understand the national average salary range for your job title and how this may vary by region. Remember to factor in your qualifications, experience, and specialised skills or attributes that help you perform your job well.”

“When it comes to having the conversation, be ready to demonstrate the value you bring to the company. Outline the progress you’ve made since your last pay rise or performance review, and offer examples of your accomplishments, targets met, or any extra projects and initiatives you’ve driven. The goal here is to show your employer how much you bring to the table – by showcasing your growth and the increased value you offer, you’re positioning yourself as a valuable asset,” McKibbin said.

“If you’ve never asked for a raise before and you’re feeling nervous or uncomfortable, it’s a good idea to plan the conversation and even rehearse it beforehand. Being confident and adequately prepared will help give you the best chance at landing the raise you’re after.”

The cost-of-living crisis is certainly a reason people may need a raise, but similarly, may be the reason an employer is unable to grant one. This is where negotiating other benefits may be worthwhile. Ones that aren’t monetary.

McKibbin commented: “If you believe you aren’t being paid adequately for your work, it’s always worth approaching your employer about a raise. However, sometimes a pay rise simply isn’t an option – and in the current market, there is a chance your employer won’t be able to grant your request.”

“My advice to employees is to be ready to negotiate. If a raise doesn’t seem possible at this time, you may consider asking for extra leave or flexible hours, and circling back to the pay rise conversation later.”

She concluded: “However, if you’re looking for a change, you may also decide to search for a new job with better pay. Switching companies often results in a pay increase or a promotion, especially if you can demonstrate the outstanding work you’ve been doing or if you’ve been in a role for a number of years.”

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.