3 Ways Women in Hollywood Can Negotiate a Better Deal

Contract_Illo - THR - H 2018
Illustration by: Jenn Liv

"The best deals are gotten when there's a willingness to walk away," says a top talent rep about fighting the gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is expected to close by 2059 (according to the Institute for Women's Policy Research). In the meantime, here are three tactics to secure a better deal for your next job:


Your starting salary can create ripple effects throughout the rest of your tenure at a company. It may be tempting to wait for a few years of experience (and courage) before negotiating for a raise, but "the difference in starting pay has an enormous effect on pay disparity," says employment lawyer Ann Fromholz, because bonuses or future increases are typically calculated as a percentage of current salary. "The gap becomes wider and wider as years go by. It's important for women to negotiate what they're worth at the outset."


"The best deals are gotten when there's a willingness to walk away unless you've got a certain amount," says a top talent rep. And never say, "I really want to work with you, but can you give me more money?" adds executive coach Katie Donovan of Equal Pay Negotiations. "That surrenders all leverage. A better line would be, 'I'm having difficulty saying yes to this offer, and here's why.' "


Women pay a higher social cost for negotiating their pay than men, often branded as being difficult or aggressive and alienating the other party, says Hannah Riley Bowles, senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. However, they experience more success when advocating on someone else's behalf. Bowles recommends adopting what she calls the "I-We" approach, whereby a woman positions her refusal to settle for less not as oppositional but rather as an asset to the team. Says Donovan: "Women actually get more than men in negotiations when we use the collaborative approach."

This story first appeared in the Jan. 17 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.