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Survey: Businesswomen Do Negotiate (and It Pays Off, Big Time)

Simmons School of Management, HP Survey Shows Successful Businesswomen Don't Hesitate to Ask for What They Want

BOSTON (January 17, 2006) — Women business leaders don't shy away from asking for what they want to be successful—and their negotiations pay off in a big way, according to a survey by the Simmons School of Management and HP.

Recent business writings, including a popular book "Women Don't Ask," say that businesswomen are hesitant to negotiate for what it would take to be successful at their jobs. But a computer survey of nearly 500 middle and senior-level businesswomen during the 2005 Simmons School of Management national leadership conference in Boston revealed that businesswomen are highly likely to negotiate when they take on a challenging new role.

And the vast majority of those who negotiated reported higher performance reviews, significantly more job satisfaction, ongoing opportunities for new leadership roles, and less likelihood of leaving their companies than those who didn't negotiate.

The survey also showed that women with the most experience in leadership situations tend to carefully diagnose any new position before accepting it—first checking with a broad network of informal  "career advisors" inside and outside the company about what should be negotiated.

(For the complete article, "It Pays to Ask: Negotiating Conditions for Leadership Success," go to

"Many studies of women and negotiating are based on role-playing and games," says Deborah Kolb, survey leader and Deloitte Ellen Gabriel Professor of Women and Leadership at the Simmons School of Management (  "But when you look at negotiating in the real world, around leadership opportunities and challenges, we see that the successful women do, indeed, negotiate.  And it pays off for everyone.
 "That's a powerful message to companies as well as to women who want to get ahead.  Companies should encourage women to negotiate. If they say,  ‘Let's sit down and figure out what you need up front to be successful in this new job,' it pays off in higher motivation and lower turnover."

Of the businesswomen who reported taking on a new leadership role, whether it was a major new project or a new job:

—84% said they negotiated with their superiors for additional financial or human resources

—62% negotiated for support for their agenda, and for a strategic introduction that made the case why they were right for the job.

—52% negotiated over job title, job descriptions, key reporting relationships, and mutual expectations with the boss.

Outcomes of women who said they negotiated included:

—75% reported they were significantly satisfied with their jobs, versus 27% who did not negotiate.

—70% said they were not likely to consider employment elsewhere, versus 30% of the women who did not negotiate.

—81% said they were offered additional opportunities for leadership roles.

—86% reported that their last performance review "exceeded or far exceeded" their expectations.

Kolb said women should not think the choice is simply to accept or decline a challenging new assignment.

"No job that's a challenge and a stretch is a perfect fit," she said.  "Some aspects build on your strengths, others represent a steep learning curve.  Ask yourself, ‘What would it take to make me say yes to this offer?  How can I make the job fit who I am, where I am?'

"Access your strengths and weaknesses, and negotiate for whatever you need in the way of job title, resources, a safety net, and senior level support for any difficult actions you may have to take.  Dig deep to gather good intelligence and then enlist people to help.  That's what successful women do.

"Women who don't negotiate, who just take the job offered to them, are creating problems for themselves down the road."

The findings are from a computer survey of 470 of the 3,000 businesswomen from around the country who attended the 2005 Simmons School of Management Leadership Conference.  Average work experience was 20 years.  The survey was conducted by the School of Management—the only business school in the world designed specifically for women—and HP, a conference sponsor committed to the success of women.