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GetRaised advises women on the art of asking for a raise

   /   Feb 16th, 2011Finance, Interviews

While most of us have experienced the agony of getting up the nerve to ask our boss for a raise, perhaps we haven’t considered the large-scale effects of asking, or not asking, for increased pay: How many people are underpaid as a result?

GetRaised takes you through the steps of asking for a raise. The site, which launched in October 2010, targets women, advising them on the art of getting raises as a strategy to mitigate the gender pay gap. The GetRaised formula is a mix of hard science and business savvy, providing advice on increasing income that has been remarkably successful.  The concept emerged while its creators, Avi Karnani and Matt Wallaert of Churnless, were running their previous enterprise, personal finance website Thrive.

Dowser: Why did you start GetRaised?
Wallaert: While we were running Thrive we were looking at data from people’s savings rate, how much they saved relative to income. Women were beating men in terms of the rate they were saving. But looking at the raw dollars of their savings, women were not doing so well. The difference in income was the main reason. So then we asked, why is there this income disparity?

One reason, among others, is that women don’t ask for raises as often as men, and they are less successful at getting them when they do ask.

We said, well, that’s a solvable problem, something we can address with a specific product.

So how did you actually envision and create this tool?
Wallaert: Rather than solving the entire gender wage gap, with GetRaised we aim to solve a discrete thing. We do this by getting women to initiate asking more, doing it in the right way, and getting them to follow through on that.

And that’s roughly how the product breaks down. First, we have to see whether you deserve a raise. Are you underpaid, or not, and if not, then hold off. The second part is based on research that shows that women tend to make what is called an emotive request: I want a raise, I deserve a raise, rather than laying out a logical business case: here’s market rate, here’s available jobs in my area, here’s what I’ve done and what I’ll do to provide value to the company. Then we had the problem of getting women to follow through on the ask. In part this is because women are uncomfortable with the process of negotiation.

But the site doesn’t mention that it’s specifically for women.
Wallaert: There are a lot of personal finance sites out there addressing women specifically. And we wanted GetRaised to be about more than just the gender pay gap: we wanted it to be for everyone who is underpaid and needs help changing their compensation. We know the problem disproportionately affects women, and we know that women are highly successful on our site. But underpaying women is bad for everyone, of every gender; fair compensation increases the productivity of all.

There are also men who use the site and it’s successful for them, although the problem we were trying to solve was focused on women’s needs.

How does the site work?
Karnani: First you have to find out if you’re underpaid; that’s free. Then it’s $20 to go through the process of creating your personalizing raise request. We use data to determine what size raise you’re most likely to be successful in asking for. Then we show you jobs in your area that you’re qualified for, so your boss can see that you could be paid more elsewhere. It asks about your accomplishments while on the job, and your near and long-term goals with the company. All that information goes into your personalized raise request letter. If you can’t afford GetRaised, we can find sponsors to pay your $20 membership.

Wallaert: We ask people who get raises to donate $10 to sponsor potential members. And if you don’t get the raise, you get your $20 back.

How does the product reach people who need a raise?
Dave Clarke, Communications Strategist: I’ll chime in here. So far it’s been a largely organic process, which means GetRaised has spread without us having to pay for its promotion.  We’ve been covered by the New York Times. We go where our audience is reading. We’re also being covered by small, workplace-focused blogs, like one called the Water Cooler.  We also do some AdWords work with Google. And Facebook and Twitter.

We also had a partnership with a business class at Villanova. The students pitched a bunch of marketing ideas to us for GetRaised.

Wallaert: We’d like to take on some of those students as interns. Service learning is a very important component of Churnless. We give talks at schools about social entrepreneurship, and we take on employees who are still learning their jobs so as to give them a chance.

How successful has the site been in getting raises for users?
Clarke: 81% of women that have used GetRaised have, in fact, earned a raise. The average raise amount across all users (male and female) is $6,473.

Karnani: But what we really love is connecting with our users. Recently I was in Chicago for a meeting, and I got a phone call. The woman on the line said that my phone number showed up on her credit card statement. I realized that she must have subscribed to GetRaised, and my phone number ended up on her statement instead of the company’s.

She was about to hang up but then I asked her about her experience with the site. Actually, she was meeting with her boss in five minutes. She was waiting outside his office.

So I took the opportunity to give her some extra prep, which we do on the site anyway. Sometime around lunch I got a text from her saying, ‘Got a raise.’ And, on top of that, because she found out she was underpaid, she sent her resume to a nearby company and got invited to an interview.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing?
Karnani: One of our goals is to partner with banks to promote GetRaised. But in financial services, there’s a fear of being prescriptive. Also, we can’t seem to get women’s organizations like the National Organization for Women to be interested in our product. We think that solutions to problems often look unconventional, but not everyone sees that angle.

Interview has been edited and condensed.

Photo: Rachel Signer

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