Silent Auction Profile: She Negotiates Co-Founder Helps You Get What You Deserve
Victoria Pynchon, co-founder of She Negotiates Consulting and Training, says perhaps her biggest negotiation win was helping a female lawyer increase her offer by $500,000 to $850,000, plus other perks.
Here was the deal, Pynchon says: The job was in a large corporation and this candidate was up for a newly created position training lawyers in a new field. Lawyers at the company were earning more than $1 million a year as equity partners.
“They were trying to get somebody cheap,” says Pynchon, who spent 25 years as a litigating attorney and later in arbitration.
When she got the big offer finally, the candidate had seen how deceitful the leaders were there and decided not to take it. But she did leverage that offer to get a 43 percent increase in her current job.
This savvy ability to help clients arrive at what they need to represent their true value is unusual, considering the aspirations Pynchon had as a child.
“Heavens no, I didn’t think women could be lawyers,” she says. Now 67, Pynchon says she worked to help women strategize and plan to earn whatever they intend and exactly what they deserve to get paid.
Pynchon is donating two She Negotiates complete career, promotion and raise strategic plan consulting services to Take The Lead’s Fifth Year Anniversary Summer Silent Auction Celebration, with a value of $2,500 each. She Negotiates is a sponsor of the event.
Pynchon has spent a quarter century in law, including being a litigator and trial attorney, followed by a decade of mediation, arbitration and negotiation, with a period at American Abritration Association.
Following earning her law degree from University of California-Davis, and after earning her legal masters in dispute resolution in 2006 from the Straus Institute at Pepperdine University, Pynchon has used her experience to help hundreds and hundreds of women negotiate for what they are worth.
Pynchon was chosen to help the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls roll out of the new California Pay Equity law to employees and employers. Now disbanded, the Commission’s Pay Equity Task Force, was responsible for community outreach, assuring that every woman and every employer in the state of California understood the rights and remedies created by the new law.
Yet, she says growing up in San Diego, “I didn’t know anybody who had gone to college.” But her father, a high school dropout, eventually earned his GED, attended a local community college and went to law school. So she made her own path. And it is an enviable and stellar demonstration of her intentions.
Taking her first job in law doing plaintiff personal injury work, Pynchon says, “All my professors thought it was a terrible idea. But I wanted to learn how to try cases.” So opting to do that instead of joining a big firm, Pynchon says started her doing what she enjoys most.
“Twenty-five years of fighting with people is enough,” Pynchon says,
The author of two books, The Grownups' ABCs of Conflict Resolution (2010) and Success as a Mediator for Dummies (2012), Pynchon has been teaching negotiation and providing negotiation consulting services to lawyers, executives, professionals and entrepreneurs since co-founding She Negotiates in 2010 with Lisa Gates.
“We undervalue ourselves, everyone does,” Pynchon says. “Women are so grateful to do work and have this internal conversation thinking you are not valuable enough.”
This cultural gender pushback against women asking for their worth is very real, Pynchon says. “If you appear to be self-serving, you get punished for it. But you need to be making market value for your time. There is no reason to accept a job for less money. That’s what we do, we do the training.”
Partnering with 81cents.com, a customized, tailored service that offers personalized compensation reports, not general salary ranges, She Negotiates is able to be on point to precisely determine fair market value for a client.
“They send people’s salary offers to three senior people in the field,” to determine the fairness and viability, Pynchon says.
“I tell all women to raise your fee, raise your salary because you have other options,” Pynchon says. She advises clients to make the first proposal, to establish the framing and the bargaining range.
“You have to stay two to three moves ahead,” she advises. “It’s the plan that gives you confidence. No amount of cheerleading is going to make you a good offer.”
Research shows the pay gap is widespread.
According to Forbes, “A PayScale report found that women still make only $0.79 for each dollar men make in 2019. A Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) analysis discovered that in 2018, median weekly earnings for female full-time wage and salary workers was 81% of men’s earnings. 'Women had lower median weekly earnings than men in most of the occupations for which we have earnings data for both women and men,' the BLS report found. The data is starker for minorities. The PayScale report found that the largest pay gap is for black female executives who earn only $0.63 for every dollar a white male executive earns.”
With professional clients who are engineers, doctors, lawyers, surgeons, scientists, academics and more, Pynchon says she also has a special discounted offer for those in the early career phase.
With professional clients who are engineers, doctors, lawyers, surgeons, scientists, academics and more, Pynchon says she also has a special discounted offer for those in the early career phase. #FinancialHealth
For everyone, she says, “You need to know how powerful you are in the position you are in.”
Pynchon says for her clients she writes scripts, plans concessions in advance, plans for pushback and creates a strategic plan. “We theme the entire plan.” Pynchon says.
Recognizing the overarching pay gap of about 40 percent across fields and disciplines, Pynchon says, “The higher up you go, the greater the wage gap. Women need to realize they are not making as much money because they under value themselves.”
Why does negotiating for your worth and at the highest fair value matter? Because you can never recover from the persistent gap.
Forbes reports, “the gender pay gap threatens women’s financial health in retirement. As the U.S. Joint Economic Committee highlighted, “of the multiple sources of income Americans rely on later in life, many are directly linked to a worker’s earnings over his or her career. These include Social Security benefits, based on lifetime earnings. . . , and other benefits [like pensions] that are typically calculated using a formula based on a worker’s tenure and salary during peak earning years." In plain terms, if Social Security payouts are determined by a person’s previous earnings and those earnings were lower because of a gender pay gap, then the Social Security payments will also fall victim to the wage gap.”
Acknowledging that over the past several decades, the culture has improved for women and pay, Pynchon says she is optimistic, but more work needs to be done.
“It is never going to be entirely fixed, but it’s gotten better. We have to chip, chip, chip away at it.”