A new project launched this week aiming to level the playing field for negotiation skills with the ambitious goal of empowering one million women.
A quick Google search for negotiation training brings up courses costing from £475 to £2800, and those are the ones that don’t hide their prices behind enquiry forms. Making negotiation skills accessible only to those who already have money or power is just another frustrating barrier that keeps the up on the up, and the down… well, down.
With a mission to ‘harness the power of negotiation as a tool for empowerment and change’, Make Your Ask is a new initiative by negotiation expert Natalie Reynolds. The project offers affordable negotiation training online for just £10. With each course purchased Make Your Ask will gift the course to a woman globally via a series of charity partners, announcing UN Women as their initial partner.
CEO of negotiation training firm advantageSPRING, Reynolds advocates a new approach to negotiation based on problem solving and resilience, explaining, “For too long, negotiation has been seen as a skill requiring aggression, bullying behaviour and tough talk and as a result many people are frightened and intimidated by it.”
For women in the workplace making yourself heard can be a difficult balancing act. Studies have found that men dominate in meetings, commandeering as much as 75% of conversation, and that even when women are speaking less they are perceived to be speaking more.
As a woman, fearing backlash from being vocal isn’t groundless as both male and female perceivers have been found to respond negatively to a woman talking more than those around her.
Prevailing gender stereotypes mean that the competitive and assertive behaviours associated with successful negotiations still risk women being labelled bossy or unpleasant. It’s hardly surprising that studies have found the gender bias in negotiating to put women on the back foot.
Take, for example, the discrepancy in male vs. female salary negotiations: Glassdoor has reported that 68% of American women accepted their initial salary offer as opposed to 52% of men. Figures amplified by men being three times more likely to see success from those negotiations – and the situation is similar in the UK.
The initiative’s eight-part online course, Mastering Negotiation: The Art of Making Your Ask, aims to democratise negotiation tools by making affordable training available to people from all walks of life. Negotiation tools are a life skill that goes far beyond the board room and tools we can all benefit from, particularly as women move forward continuing to carve out the spaces we have every right to occupy.
The move to like-for-like gift this course to woman globally comes in recognition of the challenges and restrictive circumstances faced by women across the world, in business and personal life. Through building confidence and capability to speak up and ‘make their ask’, the project believes it can give women the power to change their lives.
The goal of reaching one million women worldwide, to whom even £10 isn’t an option, is a solid commitment to making skills available for those who need them most.