So, how might we? How might we use the data available in the Open Salary Spreadsheet for negotiation purposes? It's the question driving many of us when we look at what's arrayed before us. What can we learn that will help us to negotiate better as employees...or what will help employers navigate this process, too?
First, let's think about what a negotiation is. We employ a combination of definitions, ranging from Fisher, Ury & Paten (1991)'s Getting to Yes (always a favorite) to contemporary (21st century!) definitions like Honeyman & Kupfer Schneider, eds., found in their excellent The Negotiator's Handbook (2017).
We understand negotiation to be a conversation, discussion or dialogue between two or more individuals or parties that is intended to reach a beneficial outcome. We don't start from the place of--or the assumption of--negativity. In general, negotiation begins where a challenge exists over one or more issues, and is an interactive process that engages compromise, to resolve points of difference, mutual benefit and mutual interest. As in, yes, it's a challenge, but not a fight, and we want to envision the hard work of negotiation as being mutually beneficial, and good for us all. We know that it isn't always clear or cut and dried, and in some instances, positions are offered and concessions are made in order to reach a final agreement.
So in this definition, we appreciate that we might bring many tools to bear on the negotiation process, including expertise, experience, relationships, empathy, and skill. We also know that data is vital in the negotiation process: we must know what kind of data is needed, where to find it, and how to harvest it, so that when the time comes to use it, we have the right data collection that will benefit our negotiation. The Open Salary Spreadsheet is one tool among many that we might use for negotiation purposes, to gather data about salary and benefits, as employees seek to benchmark their salaries and benefits and analyze their corner of the field or the field as a whole. Many others exist, from one-on-one conversations to formal organizational reports to government data.
We believe that effective salary negotiations include benchmarking salary by gathering a number of data points for comparison. The OSS helps to take the hard work out of some of that research, by offering a space in which negotiators can gather information in the aggregate at the beginning of their process. This is one place to stop on the road to collecting data about salaries.
However, note that the OSS should not replace talking to people about their salaries. We still and always will recommend the person-to-person interactions that allow us to be in conversation about salary and the brave work of asking people what they make. This conversation will offer more than just salary insights, of course, and the experience of asking helps each of us to rise and helps us to model difficult conversations so that we can all rise. Again, this is one tool that can help you to begin those conversations. Consider language like “I noticed in the Open Salary Spreadsheet that…..” or “I wonder if you can tell me about how your salary and benefits compare to what I learned from the Open Salary Spreadsheet.” Consider what you see here the beginning of (or an invitation to) a conversation. This data becomes richer when you can match it with more, from your specific corner of the field and from the conversations and research that you will continue to do.
Know that you can relax (a bit). The experience of negotiation can be a challenge and when we are in the midst of the process, we often feel anxious and unsure about how to proceed. When information is kept private or obscured, employees may feel increasingly anxious about how difficult it is to get accurate data. With this resource, you have the opportunity to lean on the contributions of anonymous colleagues across the field whose shared data supports you as you negotiate. This act of radical transparency is a gift that others are giving you--and we invite you to consider its value and how you might want to contribute yourself.
If you need support with your negotiations in addition to collecting data from our Open Salary Spreadsheet, or would like to learn more about how to use this data in your negotiation, please be in touch with us. The Gender Equity in Hiring Project offers a variety of different negotiation supports, from our Ask For It Negotiation Workshops to one on one negotiation coaching (one time or packages available) to resume, cover letter and interview support. We're here for you, to make sense of this data and make sure that you know how to use it most effectively.
Be in touch!