If You Want to Get, You Have to Ask

The best advice I ever received was given to me by my colleague, mentor, and previously recognized Woman Worth Watching. She said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

I apply this advice when counseling my clients in their employment negotiations, encouraging them to ask for more—whether it is compensation, severance, or other benefits. I am passionate about advocating for my clients and helping them advocate for themselves. One of my goals in providing employment counseling is to encourage my clients to take stock of their achievements and determine what they are looking to accomplish—not just at that particular crossroad, but also in the future. An employment negotiation can be unsettling, but it is also an opportunity to reevaluate goals. New York law prohibits employers from asking about prior salaries, and this creates an opportunity to start fresh and ask for more.  

I would suggest that more women incorporate “if you don’t ask, you don’t get” into their approach to career advancement. There is still a pay gap between men and women, and one thing we can do to close that gap is to be confident regarding our value and ask to be compensated accordingly. Whether it is asking for a raise, a desirable assignment, or a flexible work schedule, we must advocate for ourselves and set ourselves up for success. I have been closely monitoring the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s Equal Pay Act case and I am inspired by their willingness to highlight the disparities in pay structure and fight for pay equality in their sport 

We women who are both professionals and caregivers can also apply this advice to our personal relationships by asking our partners to bear more of the childcare responsibilities, so we don’t find ourselves the “default” parent who sacrifices career advancement to be the primary caregiver. Having a dialogue and encouraging discourse around pay equality along gender lines is still a hurdle for women, and asking for more from our partners and employers is a way to break through the glass ceiling and the pay disparity. Because if we don’t ask, we won’t get.