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Asking for a promotion: Are you advocating for yourself?

Recently a male friend and I were having a discussion about women and wages, he was telling me that he will continue to make management decisions that reduce costs, and the fact is that women are cheaper.

He’s not wrong.

It is an intelligent management decision to reduce costs, and low wages do that.

As you might expect, I challenged him on this sweeping statement. “What if she is doing as good a job, a better job, than a man, would you pay her a fair wage? The wage you would pay a man in the same role? Would you give her the promotion over a man?”

This was where he revealed some insight - “Well, no, because a man asks for a raise or a promotion, a woman does not.”

Aaah, now that is a different story, isn’t it?

Does our aversion to risk limit us from asking for what we deserve?

Why aren’t we asking?

We have all heard the statistics, a man will take a job knowing only 10% of it, whilst a woman won’t even consider the job if she feels she doesn’t have at least 80% of the qualifications.

Is taking a job with only 10% of the qualifications the right thing to do?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I’m not going to argue the merits or fairness of this behaviour. I greatly admire Richard Branson; he even says, “If someone offers you an opportunity, you take it. Figure out how to do it later.“

As a woman, opportunities are not as readily available or offered, I would take this one step further. I would say–

“If you want the opportunity, you have to ask for it.”

Ask, and ye shall receive

Yes, asking for a raise is a scary prospect, as is asking for a promotion, but here is the hard, undeniable truth - if you don’t ask, you definitely won’t get it.

If you do ask, you may not get it, but there is a chance you could, and a 1% chance is better than 0% every time!

On top of that, there are other great rewards: you stuck up for yourself; you asked for what you want, and now your manager is aware you want it, and you will be top of mind if the opportunity does present itself.

I realize that asking can be a daunting prospect, but there are things you can do to prepare for the meeting that will give you the confidence you need. Above all, use facts, not opinions.

For example, these are not convincing arguments:

  • “I deserve it.”

  • “I’ve worked here longer than anyone else.”

  • “You promised me.”

However, evidence-based arguments are –

  • “I have achieved success in all three projects I was assigned, developed strong relationships with our vendors, have strong 360-degree feedback from my peers and managers, have more experience than the last two predecessors, and am confident I can make this role a success.”

Now that is a compelling and convincing argument by anyone’s standards!

Collecting the facts

Do three things before you go in and ask for what you want.


Review your work performance, have you delivered outstanding results in the past two years?

Write down your achievements, every single objective you have met, and every goal you have achieved


Research the role you are asking for, who were the last two people in that role?

Knowing the experience and skills of your predecessors will help you make the case of why you are qualified for that job based on the qualifications of those in that role previously.


Find a sponsor, do you know someone that is impressed by you and feels you are an asset to the company?

Have them call your manager after the meeting to share their recommendation and offer support.


Tip: If you do not have a sponsor, cultivate one that is about two levels above you in the hierarchy and likes you as a person, they can even be a current mentor.


Politics and inner machinations of corporations aside, when you have a strong argument and solid track record, you are positioning yourself for success.

Going into that meeting armed to the teeth with facts will exude confidence and not feel like you are asking for a favour.

I am not suggesting you quit if you do not get the raise or promotion, but you should go in there convinced you deserve this, and if they don’t appreciate that, then someone else will.

The mere process of reviewing what you have accomplished during your time in your role will give you ammunition and confidence.

Now all you have to do is ask.

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