Salary negotiation: the do's and don'ts

Charlotte Flach Charlotte Flach Editor, C&IT
Salary negotiation: the do's and don'ts

Talking about money can often be taboo, but talent shouldn’t be afraid to negotiate a fair salary, says a career coach.


Talking about money is tough. Many employees are afraid that asking for more money during an interview, or a salary raise while employed, might jeopardise their career opportunity. 

Other worries are whether the salary you are targeting aligns with the employer’s expectations, and how to handle next steps if you’re not in-sync.

Career Coach, Octavia Goredema, is an advocate for fair salaries across the board, and highlights the fact that when it comes to negotiating pay, women, and especially women of colour, come off worst. 

“Women of all races are affected by the gender pay gap, although not all women are affected equally,” she explains. “Sadly, women of colour are the most underrepresented group in the corporate pipeline. We are hired at lower rates. We are promoted at lower rates. We are retained at lower rates. We are paid at lower rates.”

As the events industry is predominantly female, but also lacks diverse representation, how can groups that are usually overlooked, negotiate a fairer deal? Goredema shares her top tips...


  • The first thing you need to do is decide the salary you’re targeting. “I refer to this as your 'sweet spot' number. Your sweet spot number is the salary that makes you instinctively smile if you think of it. You won’t disclose this number during your conversations with your manager, but it’s important for you to decide what it is,”  says Goredema.

  • Prepare a target salary range. This represents the set of numbers you would feel comfortable sharing with your manager. “The purpose of the target salary range is to get you as close as possible to your sweet spot number.”

  • Build a case and be ready to share it. To get started, create a list of 'promotion proof points'. “Promotion proof points clearly convey what you’ve achieved, quantify the results, and emphasise the benefits to your company or team as a result. Using data to backup your achievements is powerful, as metrics clearly demonstrate the value of your contribution to your company.”

  • Research salaries in advance so you have data to back up your ask, if needed. You should approach the salary research for your targeted promotion in the same way you would research salaries for a new role at a new company.

  • Practice first and record yourself asking for more money. “Observe your body language and reflect on how you sound. Be clear, direct, and confident. Sit straight, make eye contact, speak clearly, and reiterate what excites you about the opportunity to advance at the company.”

  • Be prepared for pushback. In advance of your conversation about compensation, consider the alternate ways your manager may react and plan your response.

  • If you are concerned about inequities in your salary, Goredema advises speaking to an employment lawyer. They will be able to provide guidance on the legal implications based on your circumstances and give counsel on what to do next. 


  • Don’t let the opportunity to discuss money pass you by just because you’re afraid to ask. “Learning to negotiate is a skill that will pay dividends in the long run for your career,” says Goredema.

  • Don’t avoid initiating a conversation about your compensation. This is a conversation with your boss that is anchored on your accomplishments in your role and how you can continue to add value to your organisation.  

  • Don’t talk about your personal financial commitments when negotiating your salary, keep the conversation business-focused on the market worth for your skills and expertise.

But it’s also up to companies to help advance and retain their underrepresented employees. “CEOs need to work collaboratively with senior leaders across their organisations to close the systemic opportunity and pay gaps that can hit women of the colour the hardest when it comes to pay equity and advancement,” says Goredema.

She also advises one-to-one and group career coaching. “That’s a powerful strategy for companies who are committed to retaining underrepresented employees. But there’s still lots more to do across the board.”