Closing The Gap

Yum China CEO gives her top tips on negotiating salaries and dealing with bias

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Negotiating salaries is never an easy topic to confront, but it's an important one to all employees looking for a promotion — or the next step in their career.

While salary is a key attribute of a job move, the CEO of China's largest restaurant group suggests young professionals should look at it from a "holistic" point of view.

"When I chose my job, I'd say that salary is not the most important consideration," Joey Wat, CEO of Yum China, told CNBC's Akiko Fujita last month.

"I look at the industry (as to) whether I like it, and then whether this is the position where I can get the training, exposure, mentorship. (I look at) whether this company is a good company, whether it can be a good (performer), and then, of course salary," said Wat, when explaining what criteria she considers.

On the subject of salary, Yum China's CEO suggests that it's important to do some research beforehand: to see what the market is like, whether the market value of the wage package is fair and what range is offered.

When you've done the research, Wat suggests to "look at it, reflect upon it, and ask questions."

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Speaking at the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong, Wat admitted that every company is different, but added that if you can get to the point where you understand that you are within the market value range, then that's good. However, it's important to also ask questions.

"Of course, it's a process of communication but just be cautious that it's also a process of people seeing how you handle a sophisticated topic like salary negotiation," Wat said on CNBC's "Life Hacks Live."

"So be sincere. Be honest. Be open."

The gender debate

The subject matter of negotiating salaries itself has been at the forefront of conversations recently — especially when it comes to gender pay.

The past week alone marked the deadline for U.K. companies with over 250 employees to submit their own pay gap figures. More than 10,000 employers met the government's deadline, however those who failed to submit figures, could now face legal action.

The overall gender pay gap in the U.K. as of last year, stands at 18.4 percent. However businesses who've reported have shown a variety of results; for instance HSBC was seen as paying men on average 59 percent more than women.

When it comes to leadership, female executives tend to be a lot less common than male ones. According to Weber Shandwick's Gender Forward Pioneer 2016 Index, women only represented 10.9 percent of senior executives among the world's largest 500 firms.

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So how has gender bias impacted the CEO of Yum China during her life? While Wat didn't mention any experience of bias when it comes to her career, Wat told CNBC that she's from a family where there's a belief that boys are considered "more important."

"The key thing I guess that I've learned over many years is: you don't have to share the bias," Wat explains.

"Just focus on doing what is right, what is good and what you believe are the right things to do. Just keep doing that. You, yourself, do not have to be impacted by bias. I know that it's easier said than done, but keep focusing on learning and focus on the process."

During Wat's career, she's taken on a number of leadership positions, including CEO at both Yum China and KFC China; so when it comes to leadership, Wat sees "thought leadership" as the most important element of being a leader — no matter what gender or age.

"A leader needs to have the insight and instinct and sense of direction — where is the right direction to go and we work with the team, we mobilize the team to go there together."

Just focus on doing what is right, what is good and what you believe are the right things to do.
Joey Wat
CEO of Yum China

Life Hacks Live is a series produced by CNBC International for Facebook, where tomorrow's leaders get to ask some of the world's biggest influencers for advice. You can watch the full interview here.

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