How to Negotiate a Salary When You’re a Working Mom [Interview]

In addition to salary, working moms can face a lot of unconscious maternal bias at work. And, because of this, working moms often fall into the trap of not pursuing the projects they want. I recently had the honor of being a guest on Lisa Durante’s blog and below I have shared our interview for more insight on the topic of how to negotiate a salary when you’re a working mom.

Lisa Durante:    It’s Lisa Durante, and today we’re going to be talking about negotiations. As working moms, we have to negotiate all the time. We negotiate with our partners at home, with our kids sometimes, as well as at work with our boss, sometimes it’s with our colleagues and our peers, but also our boss on big ticket items like salaries and promotion. Today I have actually called in an expert, her name is Ashley Pare, who will talk to us about some of the strategies and tips on how we can be more effective in our negotiations at work and at home. Welcome, Ashley. Thank you so much for being here. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about you and the work that you’re doing.

Ashley Paré: Sure. Thanks for having me. I’m excited to be here. Yes, I am the founder of Own Your Worth, and it’s a coaching and consulting business. I primarily coach women to release self limiting beliefs, feel more confident and earn more by asking for what they want.  I also work with organizations in terms of creating inclusive cultures, equal pay policies, and just running workshops to help employees and managers understand the benefits of self advocacy at work. My background’s in corporate HR, so I’ve spent over a decade working in human resources and technology and marketing and sales, and I really love coaching now and helping both sides of of the table figure out how to really retain top talent and help women specifically in business move up the corporate ladder.

Lisa Durante: Amazing. Especially, what’s amazing is that you had that HR perspective so that you may have been on that other side when people were negotiating their salaries, so you know what they’re looking for.  I’m really excited to hear what you have to share with us today. One of the things you talked about was the fear. And before we get into the strategies and negotiating, how can even just approaching that fear, do you have any words of advice on how we can kind of get over that or even reframe negotiating so it’s not so scary?

Ashley Paré: Yes. This is the biggest piece of my work, I think, that I do with clients is helping clients become aware of their fears and those self limiting beliefs that might be holding them back, and then being able to take action, even though it might feel scary. I negotiate all the time in running my business and through my career, and it gets a little bit easier over time, but it doesn’t mean I’ll always be completely comfortable. We might have fears, we might have nerves, it might not be a comfortable conversation. A big fear is that the person on the other side of the table might say no. Or you’re afraid that they’ll change the way they look at you or perceive you differently, or think of you as being greedy or aggressive.

Ashley Paré: If you’re clear that that’s what’s holding you back, it becomes easier to unravel that fear by preparing. That’s really where the strategy comes in, is no matter what you are afraid of, you can think about the worst case scenario, whether it’s hearing no, whether it’s being yelled at, whether it’s just being ignored, and then you can prepare for that. With my clients, it’s definitely about preparing for a yes, no, and maybe response, and the fears tend to reduce the more preparation you do, the more confident you are in the value you bring to the organization, and the more that you know that what you’re asking for is fair and competitive in the marketplace.

Lisa Durante: So then it also sounds like you’re saying to do your research, because if you want to make sure that you’re being competitive, there’s that research component on knowing what would be a fair number to present if that’s what you’re going for.

Ashley Paré: Yeah, absolutely. The research and preparing process is what helps you gain confidence in terms of getting clear on what you want to ask for and understanding what you’d be willing to accept. Right? Because often times you’re going to ask for something and the company may not be able to meet you everywhere, but you need to get clear on what your bottom line is, what you really are looking for and need to feel good about contributing at your company to the level that you do. And so the research comes in, of course, online. There’s,, you can Google now which is great. We have more information at our fingertips than ever, but it’s really getting clear for yourself, what number, what amount of money, what compensation package would really make you feel good and proud and ready to give your all at work.

Ashley Paré: Because especially for women as givers, we always tend to show up, giving more than a hundred percent, going above and beyond. It’s really important that you have a salary that allows you to feel good to do that versus building resentment and frustration.

Lisa Durante: In addition to salary, a lot of working moms face a lot of unconscious bias at work, maternal bias. And so that even, aside from salary, it holds us back from getting the projects that we want, which then line up to the promotion that we may want. How can we approach those, is it the same strategies or do you have recommendations on how we would approach those conversations? Because those can be tough conversations for people.

Ashley Paré: Yeah. I think in terms of just managing your career moving forward, whether it’s asking for something as specific as salary or really just planning for your own career development within the organization, it’s creating a good relationship and rapport with not only your boss but other leaders within the organization. I recommend just asking your boss once a month, once a quarter, for a career development meeting where you sit down and you talk through, your personal goals where you’d like to see yourself grow, what you’re interested in learning about moving forward. And if you’re ready to ask for a promotion, you need to give yourself a three month window.

Ashley Paré: I start working with a client and they want a promotion or a raise, I tell them “Okay, it’s going to take two to three months for you to get that end goal, because most of the time you’re going to have to have multiple conversations and your boss needs to be able to advocate on your behalf.” And so a lot of times we go into the meeting, we make our ask or we build this up, and then whatever the answer is, we kind of just let it lie. And really these are conversations, conversations to prepare and to acknowledge with your boss. In terms of growing your career, especially as a working mom, it’s important that you ask your boss, “What else do you need from me to advocate on my behalf?”

Ashley Paré: So really getting clear, “Dear boss, I’d love to be in this manager position within the next three to six months. Is there anything else you need to see from me to be willing to bring this case up the ladder so I can move into that position?” You may have a sense that there is some bias against you, and asking that question that way will require your boss to get very clear on the reasons why that opportunity may or may not be available to you. And yeah, it’s about enrolling your boss on your side in terms of helping them help you grow your career.

Lisa Durante: Oh, that’s amazing. A few things that really stood out to me was that it’s a longer term game. One of the things that you have spoken about is self advocacy, and in those conversations with manager around career discussions, that is so important to really advocate for yourself. Can you talk a little bit more about that and why it’s so important?

Ashley Paré: Yes. Self advocacy is for me, along with negotiation, the biggest skill set and catalyst to break the glass ceilings that exist.  we’re not standing up for ourselves, if we’re not proud of what we’re doing and contributing and creating, and if we’re not shouting it from the rooftops, then unfortunately working hard and keeping our head down is not enough within the corporate atmosphere to really build the type of careers that many of us want.

Ashley Paré: And no matter what level you’re at in the organization, no matter what your goal is or plan, whether you want to be an individual contributor or a manager, self advocacy starts with being confident in the work that you’re doing and proud to share it, and whether you’re on a team or not, taking ownership for what your responsible for is really, really key. Because managers manage many people, the company moves really fast, you forget what you did three, six months ago, so you have to take responsibility for managing your career and that starts with the self advocacy piece. And it’s about owning your worth really in terms of being able to say, “You know what, I believe that what I’m doing here is making a difference.”

Ashley Paré: What I like to ask, Lisa, if you were an employee and we were talking about this, I would really ask you, “Lisa, if you were to leave your company tomorrow, just up and quit,  what would your company be missing out on?” Because that really helps you get into the practice of, “Wow, I do make a difference here.” That enables you to advocate for yourself and really ultimately let go of the outcome. So no matter what happens, when you’re confident in your contribution, you’ll find an amazing place to work and an amazing place to contribute that really does value you for what you bring to the table.

Lisa Durante: That is an incredible question to ask ourselves. What is it that they will be missing out if I go? Because too often what I have seen from the women that I work with is that they just devalue what they do. It’s always diminished, and they think, “Well it was nothing.” And you think “No, you’re doing these thousands of things, you don’t realize. It’s incredible and you should acknowledge that you are doing great things.”

Ashley Paré: Yes.

Lisa Durante: And they so often just think, “Well anybody could do that.” Well, you are doing it.

Ashley Paré: Yes. Yes. And I find with working with working moms as well, I mean there’s more and more research on this as well. Working moms can multitask incredibly well. They manage their time incredibly well. These are all skill sets that because you’ve become a mom, you add to your resume per se, and you’re able to manage things in a different way that other employees don’t even have to consider. So it’s another advantage to think about what sets you apart versus what keeps you behind.

Lisa Durante: Are there any tips, any ways that people can record? Like you had said just a moment ago, that sometimes we forget what we’ve done in the three to six months. Is there something we can do on a regular basis that we’re kind of keeping that record, or are there any other tips that you have on how we can make sure that we’re remembering what we’re doing so that we can talk about what we’re doing?

Ashley Paré: Yes. I love this because it really just starts with first of all, giving ourselves credit, and noticing and acknowledging when we’ve done something really well, or when we’ve learned from something that didn’t go well. And I know I didn’t come up with this, I hear this quite often, but I really believe in it. It’s just creating your own folder. I like to call it a celebration folder, in your inbox where you just save every thank you, every positive comment, every big project that you either got off the ground or that you helped complete.

Ashley Paré: First of all, creating a space for you to keep track of your hard work and your efforts. And again, that comes with the managing our own career. The self advocating starts with acknowledging what we do, and then when we sit down, if you’re going to write an annual personal review, you can pull up that folder and just start thinking through everything that you’ve contributed. But it really is starting to get to know how you do make a difference and how you’re meeting objectives, and having those conversations throughout the year to remind your boss that hey, you finished X, Y, or Z on time or ahead of schedule or whatever it might be to prepare. That way your boss is never surprised whenever you ask for what it is you want.

Lisa Durante: Yeah. Not coming out of left field then. I love the celebration folder. I myself have, I call my folder Kudos. So anytime something comes in or I feel proud of the work, and oftentimes I have to say that I’m not as good at putting the work that I’m just proud of. I don’t take that moment to reflect. That’s something for me to take away from today. That’s awesome. I do want to switch gears a little bit because as important as it is for us to negotiate at work, working moms, and I think this is true of any women generally, there’s a lot of negotiation that happens in the home.

Lisa Duranté: But once kids are on the scene, you’re negotiating who’s going to take the next sick day, or who’s going to do the pickup or bring them to the doctor or whatever the issue may be. Should we approach those conversations with our partner differently than we would with a manager because of the intimate relationship? Or do you think a lot of the same rules kind of apply?

Ashley Paré: Yeah. I think a lot of the same fears apply, the approach can be similar, but if we’re afraid of asking our husband or partner to pick up our child on a sick day, then we’re more than likely going to be afraid to ask our boss, to put us up for promotion. This is where the self advocacy piece starts, and from the emotional perspective, it’s about acknowledging that our needs are really important. That without us and without us taking care of ourselves, we’re not able to give our best to our family, to our children, to our coworkers.

Ashley Paré: And oftentimes we want to be the hero and we think we have to do it all alone, and we’re trying to manage all the multiple hats, but ultimately our partners want to see us happy. Even our bosses, if we’re doing a great job, they want us to stay and see us happy. And if we approach the conversation with our partner around asking for help, trying to resolve a problem or finding a solution. Where it’s not like, “I can’t believe you never do this, I need your help. I can’t do this alone,” versus, “Can we come up with a solution or a plan, if this happens, how can we handle it?” Can you talk with your boss about once a month working from home on a Friday or something, because that would really help me.

Ashley Paré: Really taking a look at what policies exist in both companies to support working parents, and then from there creating a plan. But as women, it’s just as important for us to share our needs and what we need from our partner in terms of emotional support, childcare support. And of course, we can do that more lovingly. But sometimes it’s really scary for us to ask for help because it brings up, we don’t want to be seen as weak or not capable. Again, it really does start with acknowledging what your feelings are around asking your partner, and then using them to create a solution together. It’s not just up to you.

Lisa Durante: Oh, yes. Big yes to that. It isn’t just up to you. Too often we think it’s all on our shoulders and it’s a share, especially if you do have a partner, it is a partnership and you should treat it as such. And one of the other things that really I want to pull out and make sure that everyone heard that it’s not talking about it in the moment, because then that’s when it gets heated. It’s really talking ahead of time, what’s our game plan. If sick days come up, how will we manage that? All that prep is so important. Otherwise it does get heated and then there’s resentment and it doesn’t make for a loving moment between partners.

Ashley Paré: Can I add in one more thing, Lisa?

Lisa Durante: Yeah, for sure.

Ashley Pare: I don’t have kids yet, but in terms of thinking about family and talking with friends and clients who also have children, I think another key piece is to prepare in terms of asking your partner for the support early on. A lot of times what I’m hearing from clients and friends is that x amount of months. If you have a child that’s six months old or three years old and you’ve never asked the partner to pick up the child on a sick day, then that’s going to be a different conversation than if you plan for it as a new mom before you have a baby.

Ashley Paré: I think if you haven’t ever done it, it’s going to require a little bit more of preparing because I think a lot of times there’s this fear and we end up taking it all on ourselves, and then it’s even harder to ask for that help.

Lisa Durante: Yeah. Because you set up this habit that you’ve done it all, they could almost even feel blindsided that you actually need help because you’ve never needed it before, and they’ve never had to acknowledge that. Yeah, that’s great. Doing it before, well ahead of time. Even in pregnancy I always say talk about these hard things now, and then you can kind of pick up on them later on when reality sets in and you realize, “Oh we really do need to solve this.” One of the last things I want to touch on, because you’ve said it a couple times, it’s really that worst case scenario. How can that be empowering to your negotiation?

Ashley Paré: Yes. In my own personal experience, the time that I got my big no in terms of when I asked for a raise was the biggest gift I’ve received. Although it was painful, although I had to quit my dream job, it’s led me down this path of running my own business, of working with amazing clients and companies that are really trying to make a difference. Sometimes our worst case scenario fear is actually what we need. And there might be a lesson in it. Most of my clients are able to negotiate big raises, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 raises, promotions, new job offers. But there’s a few that ask and do the preparation and then the answer is no.

Ashley Paré: And they have to come to terms with, “Okay, maybe this isn’t the right place for me.” And typically if the answer is a hard no, it tends to intertwine with the culture of that organization, and clients, they’re not surprised, right? It’s actually a part of what has held them back from asking in the first place because of the culture perhaps. Iu’re afraid of hearing no or that you’ll be treated differently, that really does say a lot about the culture and the relationships you either have or don’t have with the people you’re working with.

Ashley Paré: This is really about creating a safe space for yourself to grow and learn. And if you ask, and the worst case scenario happens, you can take your time to find a new job, but you don’t have to stay there. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the only place for you to grow your career and it’s probably going to be more unlikely that it will happen if that’s the temperature of the culture.

Lisa Durante: If it’s a hard no and there’s no negotiation, then you kind of know what you have. This has been amazing, Ashley, thank you so much. I would love for you to share where can our viewers learn more about you and access what you have to offer.

Ashley Paré: Yes. Yeah. Thank you again for having me. I loved it, a great conversation. You can check out my website, it’s There’s all types of ways to get connected with me on social media via my website. And I have a couple of free webinars specifically around relationships with money, which is a big piece of this. I also run the Own Your Worth Activator, which is a three month leadership program that I’ve created for women in business or women in corporate, and really it’s a confident leadership program to own your worth. So whether you want to make a big ask or a big shift in your life, it’s for people who are motivated to make some shifts and also want that support.

Lisa Durante: Amazing. Yes. So please go and check out Ashley at Own Your Worth. She’s quite incredible and quite impressive, and she has an amazing TEDx Talk as well, which I watched and really enjoyed. So now Ashley and I have a challenge for you. We want you to pick one thing, one thing you want to go after, and declare it in the comments below. But then I want you to use some of Ashley’s strategies to go after it. You can also use the comments to leave any questions you may have from today’s discussion, or any concerns you may have about negotiating. We’d love to hear from you. If you want more videos like this one, just please subscribe to my channel and then head over to where you can find more tips and insights to help working moms rise at work and at home. Thank you for watching and I hope to see you next time.