The Role of Negotiation Skills in Empowering Women in the Workplace

By: Sreelakshmi Venugopal, Director, Peopleat Liferay

Sreelakshmi Venugopal is an experienced HR professional with over 20 years in the industry, having worked with renowned companies like Intel, AstraZeneca and Praxair etc. She is a strong advocate of diversity, women empowerment, and inclusion initiatives across various sectors.

Challenges Faced by Women in Negotiations: A Cultural Perspective

In Indian society, women often encounter significant challenges in negotiations, largely influenced by cultural upbringing. Women are often conditioned not to voice their opinions, assuming responsibility for household chores and maintaining a subdued demeanor. Unlike men, women tend to hesitate, overthinking their words before speaking. In corporate settings, women's voices are frequently drowned out, with meetings predominantly dominated by men. Approximately 65% to 70% of women still grapple with two major hurdles in negotiations: self-doubt and external unsupportive environments. Despite progress, these challenges persist, necessitating efforts to empower women to confidently express their viewpoints and foster inclusive spaces for meaningful contributions.

Effective Negotiation: Key Skills for Women in a Changing Society

Effective negotiation requires careful preparation, especially for women who often excel in this domain. Women who conduct thorough research and exude confidence can make a significant impact, bolstered by their strength of mind and reliance on data-driven arguments. Emotional intelligence is another crucial skill that allows women to navigate challenging situations with composure and positivity, refraining from becoming judgmental or resorting to aggression.

To succeed in negotiations, women should focus on honing two key attributes. Firstly, preparation, both mentally and data-wise, lays the foundation for a successful meeting. Secondly, emotional intelligence enables them to overcome obstacles, effectively communicate their points, and convince others of their perspectives.

Unique challenges for women arise due to societal expectations and perceptions, such as the misconception that conflicts indicates weakness. Women should recognize the importance of standing firm when they possess valid arguments, not shying away from assertively presenting their data-supported viewpoints. More often, sulking or giving up is the sudden responsewhen faced with resistance, they should maintain a positive outlook and persistently advocate for their ideas.

As society evolves, so must the perception of women expressing their opinions strongly. Overcoming these barriers is crucial to ensuring that women's voices are heard and their points considered in negotiations. By mastering these skills and maintaining their confidence, women can ensure their perspectives are valued and their contributions acknowledged in the changing landscape of negotiation.

The role of negotiation skills in empowering women in the workplace

In today's corporate landscape, women are proving to be exceptional negotiators and leaders. Their presence in procurement teams and other key roles is increasing, and with good reason. Women possess qualities that enhance their negotiation skills, such as their ability to remain calm and think critically, fostering a collaborative environment. They excel at engaging stakeholders and delivering results. Corporations recognize the value of these attributes and invest in training programs to empower women further.

To foster an inclusive workplace, companies emphasize mentorship and supportive managers early in women's careers. Such an environment allows them to develop confidence and manage challenges effectively. The emphasis is on teamwork and finding solutions together, leading to better-performing teams and improved outcomes.

To continue fostering gender equality in the workplace, companies must dedicate time and resources to support women's growth and development, promoting an inclusive atmosphere where women's perspectives are valued and incorporated into all discussions. It's not just about hiring women; it's about ensuring their success and contributions are maximized. By doing so, businesses can harness the full potential of their female workforce and drive better results across the board.

Create an inclusive and supportive environment that empowers women to negotiate confidentially

Creating a supportive and inclusive work culture for women requires acknowledging their unique challenges stemming from cultural, upbringing, and personal factors. Companies should build processes that consider these differences and value women's strengths, such as consistency and dedication. In salary negotiations, employers should not discriminate based on gender and must offer fair compensation regardless of the individual's negotiation style. Providing training on handling societal triggers and setting clear performance expectations is crucial. Maternity leave should not impact a woman's career growth, and companies should assess employees based on outcomes, not on hours spent at work. By implementing some of these policies and trainings, businesses can foster an environment that empowers women to thrive professionally.

Ways that business Leaders to Stay Updated on Negotiation Research and Best Practices

In today's dynamic world, effective leadership must embrace diversity and be proactive in driving change. One crucial step is to engage with DNA companies that offer coaching services for leaders seeking transformation. Allocating time to mentor and support women staff is vital, fostering a calm and inclusive environment. Engaging with thought leaders through social media and networking creates awareness of industry trends and encourages relationship-building with other companies. Establishing forums for open dialogue allows addressing gender biases and transparency issues. While change management can be overwhelming, gradual progress is key, akin to project management. Giving space and support, rather than abrupt changes, is essential for successful inclusivity. Continuous connection with networks and industry practices keeps leaders informed and helps shape purposeful initiatives. Partnering with DNI companies focused on diversity and inclusion provides valuable direction for this transformative journey.