What can one book do to improve the lives of working women? If the book in question is Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” the answer is “a lot.” And it starts by getting women to ask for the money they deserve.
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“Everywhere I go, CEOs say to me, ‘You are costing me so much money because all of the women who work for me are asking for raises,'” Sandberg said at a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers event, filmed at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park and broadcast to 50 or so watch parties around the country.
It’s hard to get actual statistics on how many women are asking for raises because of the “Lean In” phenomenon, but we have found that women at executive levels are more likely to ask for higher salaries or better benefits.
And the anecdotal evidence is clear. Back in April, BuzzFeed editor in chief Ben Smith wrote:
“It’s been less than a month since Sheryl Sandberg published ‘Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,’ and I’ve already had two women bring up her name in salary negotiations. I’m not alone: Other editors whom I asked this week told me that women who worked for them had brought up the book — its broadly empowering message, and its specific advice on pushing for a raise.”
In her book, Sandberg mentions that many women feel more comfortable using a senior member of their team as a buffer for their raise request. In other words, it’s easier to say, “so-and-so feels that I should ask for more money” than it is to argue that that you deserve it on your own merits.
Interestingly, it seems that Sandberg herself is acting as that buffer for some women. Smith mentions that one woman asked him for a raise saying, “Sheryl Sandberg would be disappointed in me if I didn’t ask you about money.”
She told Smith that mentioning Sandberg helped her defeat the “social awkwardness” of the request.
“I wasn’t worried you’d think I was too aggressive for asking about money,” she said. “I just felt like I needed to get over the hump of feeling weird about it, and referencing Sandberg gave me kind of a script to follow.”
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