‘Cringeworthy’: PepsiCo’s ex-CEO on why she’s never asked for a pay rise

How do you bring up the topic of a wage increase?

‘Cringeworthy’: PepsiCo’s ex-CEO on why she’s never asked for a pay rise

Should employees ever ask for a raise? One of the highest-paid executives doesn't think so. Indra Nooyi, former chief executive officer (CEO) of PepsiCo, said she finds it's "cringe-worthy" to ask for a wage increase.

"I find it cringeworthy,” she said as quoted by The Guardian. “I cannot imagine working for somebody and saying my pay is not enough.”

The former PepsiCo CEO added that she has never requested money in the boardroom, and even turned down a voluntary pay rise.

"I never asked my board to give me more money," she said as quoted by the Daily Mail. "Some of my reports would say to me, 'Your problem is you're not asking for more money because our compensation is pegged to yours and you're not asking for more.'"

Ian Cook, presiding director and who spoke on behalf of PepsiCo's Board of Investors, said Nooyi has provided "outstanding leadership."

"She has delivered strong and consistent financial performance, managing with an eye toward not only the short-run, but the long-run as well," said Cook in 2018. "As CEO, she grew revenue more than 80%, outperforming our peers and adding a new billion-dollar brand almost every other year. And shareholders have benefited: $1,000 invested in PepsiCo in 2006 is worth more than two-and-a-half times that amount today."

Asking for a pay rise

Not everyone takes Nooyi's position when it comes to asking for pay hikes – after all, HR leaders are the first to admit that hard work deserves good pay. However, approaching managers about a pay increase can be incredibly nerve-wracking for employees. Speaking to Dr Melanie Peacock, associate professor of HR at Mount Royal, in a previous interview, she suggested workers start by doing some research.

“Find out what other companies in your industry are paying for similar positions,” she told HRD. “Be sure not to benchmark solely based upon titles. Benchmarking needs to be done based upon the job description, as titles can vary greatly. Be prepared to discuss how you have contributed to organizational effectiveness & achievement of strategic goals. Ask for a meeting in advance and tell your manager why you are requesting to talk to them. ‘Springing’ this type of request on someone is unprofessional.”

“Be confident but not obnoxious. You know why you are worthy of a pay increase so stick to your facts and hold to your request. I know that some people like to role play this discussion beforehand as they get nervous during these types of conversations.”

Also remember to set clear expectations about this conversation. If all else fails, you can plan again for a future negotiation, or ask for other means of compensation such as additional vacation time, title change, or flexible work hours.

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