How to negotiate your insurance pay increase

It doesn't need to be scary, conference hears

How to negotiate your insurance pay increase

Diversity & Inclusion

By David Saric

Asking for a pay rise can be a daunting task, but as insurance professionals attending Insurance Business’ Women in Insurance Canada Summit, it’s important to know your worth.

“For many, going to a boss to negotiate a pay raise can be a very scary conversation to have,” said Lauren Ritchie, a certified career and high-performance coach.

“However, it doesn’t have to be a nerve-wracking talk to have with a superior, especially if you take gradual steps to increase your confidence.”

During the Toronto conference, Ritchie detailed how to pinpoint the attributes that make you qualified for a wage increase while also giving tips on how to approach this conversation with confidence. 

“Courage takes risk”

The insurance industry is traditionally known for its risk consciousness, something that has kept it in business for hundreds of years. However, the simple act of having a conversation with a superior about a pay raise is a feat of courage and this “takes risk”, according to Ritchie.

“When we embrace courage, we gradually start to increase our confidence,” Ritchie said.

For women, this fearless attitude is necessary, especially considering how they make on average 16.1% less than their male counterparts according to stats from the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

“The problem really lies in women asking for what they deserve,” Ritchie said.

“Pinpointing evidence to support our quest”

Working in a data-heavy industry, insurance professionals may well find themselves equipped with the tools to take on a high-stakes salary negotiation conversation, even if they don’t know it yet.

Evidence is key to being able to advocate for a pay raise successfully and convincingly, and would-be raise hunters should be able to pinpoint successes from throughout their careers.

However, as time progresses, the memory of these professional victories may become a bit muddied.

Ritchie recommended carving out a time each week, preferably on a Friday, to write down your achievements, no matter how big or small.

“We’re only ever focused on the milestone accomplishments, but the smaller ones are just as important,” she said.

Ritchie provided a 10-point checklist of questions to answer each week when recording any accomplishments — they are as follows:

  1. What did I do well this week?
  2. What am I most proud of accomplishing this week?
  3. Do I have any significant goals or milestones?
  4. Did I receive positive feedback from clients, colleagues or sponsors?
  5. Did I make any progress on tasks or any projects that were challenging?
  6. Did I contribute to cost savings or improve productivity in any way?
  7. Did I take on additional responsibilities or tasks?
  8. Did I demonstrate growth or improvement in any specific skills?
  9. Did I receive recognition or appreciation for my efforts?
  10. Did I handle any difficult challenges or situations effectively?

Not every answer has to be a win, but you can also jot down any areas of improvement you might recognize and try to fix for the next coming weeks.

When to ask for a raise (and when not to)

Pinpointing when an appropriate time for a raise may be tricky, but Ritchie provided some pointers to keep in mind.

“You should definitely not ask when you’ve just received negative feedback,” she said.

Also, if you’re having to take on extra work due to labour shortage and it persists over a period of time, Ritchie contended that you should not ask for more money, but instead seek out additional support to alleviate some of this added stress.

However, when that right time comes along to negotiate a salary, there are three guiding principles to factor in.

First and foremost, go into any conversation with a superior having written down your talking points and practice recording yourself beforehand, “you don’t want to wing this kind of discussion,” Ritchie said.

Secondly, acknowledging the person who you are having the conversation with, be it a boss or HR person, is key. “You want to thank them for taking the time to speak with you and show gratitude for how they’ve helped you in your career along the way,” Ritchie said.

Then comes ambition, which is asking for what you want and using the accomplishments you’ve recorded as well as the sense of courage you have adopted to bolster a convincing argument.

While it may take guts to go through with this oftentimes stressful situation, it is important to think of the precedent you are setting for those who are in similar positions or professionals who are just entering the field.

“You are not only empowering yourself but you're setting the stage and inspiration for everybody around you,” Ritchie said. “You have a responsibility not only to yourself, but to all the women in the room and beyond to pave the way for a more inclusive world.”

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