England & Wales HR, workforce and communications, Welfare and equalities

Equal recognition: 7 tips on pay negotiations for women


Women in the UK are less likely to ask for a pay-rise and less likely to be successful when they ask. According to a 2022 YouGov survey, 43% of men have asked for a pay-rise, compared to a third of women. Of these men, 31% were successful in receiving a salary increase, compared to just 21% of women. Women are routinely undervalued for the work they do and this pay progression gap contributes to wider income and societal inequality between men and women.

Shortly after starting at LGIU, our Events Coordinator Simone Short became involved with the Women in Public Affairs network, and recently attended a panel on pay and progression. In this article, Simone passes on advice and recommendations on that topic that can be applied to staff in all professional settings, including local government. Covering pay negotiations to transparency, this advice seeks to ensure everyone can be confident in asking for a pay-rise, be recognised for their achievements and advance in the workplace.


As we enter into Spring 2023, this young American finds herself in a season of both reflection and anticipation. I started at LGIU one year ago, this week, and it has been a life-giving whirlwind of opportunity, growth, and collaboration.

I can’t say enough good things about my team, particularly my fellow American and line manager, Jen Pufky, Head of Engagement at LGIU. Her enthusiasm and wisdom are motivating and inspiring – keeping me going when I need a boost and bringing me back down to earth when I need a tether.

When I started at LGIU, Jen recommended I get involved with the Women in Public Affairs Network, a group dedicated to helping women at all stages of their careers with events to connect and bolster women in their careers. This winter, I attended my first WIPA panel, Pay & Progression in Public Affairs, where a fantastic set of speakers dove into all things advancing in the workplace:

  • Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Vodafone
  • Rachel Wolf, Founding Partner, Public First
  • Clara Semal, Commercial Director, National Grid
  • Jules Shelley, Deputy Managing Director, Ellwood Atfield.

As a young woman, excited about my career, this panel was a lovely and welcome chance for tailored advice. Not only are my husband and I feeling the financial pressure of life in London, but my husband is also a PhD student at the Royal College of Music which brings its own financial strains. Suffice to say, I ate up this panel’s wisdom with a big old spoon!

One of the session’s topics was pay negotiations – timely advice for winter 2022. And really, there’s never a bad time for advice on how to approach your next appraisal. So with all of that, here are the 7 tips I found super helpful.

  1. Be organized and concise
    I know this one sounds like a no-brainer but take time to write out a structure or outline for yourself when it comes to your self-assessment. Don’t just rely on the structure your organisation gives you either. Keep your prose concise and engaging. Who is going to give you a pay rise if they can’t get through your write-up without falling asleep?
  2. Be confident
    Make it clear that you are looking to move forward and are ambitious in your assessment. Use those actual words! If you haven’t said it to them, they won’t know that you’re looking to move up. Make it clear to your line manager what you would like to be doing, even if it’s not in your job description. If they know that, they can tailor your job to keep you satisfied for longer – leading to a happier you and your organisation retains their great team.
  3. Name your contributions
    If you had an idea or led an initiative, list it explicitly. This makes keeping track of your contributions even more important. Your organisation may value certain contributions over others so don’t be afraid to ask your line manager their advice on what to list as a contribution. Basically, make it really hard for your manager not to give you a good rating.
  4. Ask about your pay band
    Many job descriptions have pay bands listed but that can be unclear in lots of organisations. Ask your line manager what your position’s pay band is currently and if you’ve reached the high end of it, ask what the next step on the “ladder” is.
  5. Get ratings from your peers
    If asking for a pay rise, ask your colleagues or others you’ve worked with in the last year to write you a “testimonial”. This can be something short an sweet to a couple of paragraphs on your work with them, the project you completed, and your relationship as you worked together.
  6. Send your list of contributions to your line manager
    A week before your annual review, compile your “evidence”, make a list of your questions, and send this off to your line manager. They’ll be so glad you’re prepared and impressed with all of the work you’ve already put into this. Make their lives easier and get that money!
  7. Divorce the personal from the professional
    In recessions, pay rises can sometimes be out of the question for organisations. If this is the case for your organisation, ask them to give you a 6-month game plan and commitment to revisit the discussion then. You can also have better luck changing your job title and asking for other non-financial boosts for your professional advancement.

Of course, this advice won’t work for everyone and hey – I’m very much still working on implementing all of these tips. But I will say the ones I was able to use in my recent appraisal were extremely useful. I believe that pay transparency only benefits us so let’s keep the conversation going around pay – ask your colleagues what they are thinking about pay and progression and if they have any wisdom to share. Let me know if you’ve implemented any of these recommendations or if you have any other suggestions down below!

Check out this recent article on the topic of pay disparity in local government here.


One thought on “Equal recognition: 7 tips on pay negotiations for women

  1. Tip no.6 is numero uno for me. As a line manager in local government, having to go through appraisals for up to 10 staff each year was always a burden on my time. Those officers who came to me well-prepared with answers to the simple questions as to what they had delivered over the course of the year, and what they were looking to deliver over the coming year, eased that burden and if they had searching questions for me then they were at the top of the list for promotion!

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