Written by Jacqueline Twillie
Black women in the United States who work full time, year-round are typically paid just 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men. Women of color face unique challenges when negotiating, vis-a-vis their white female counterparts. Today is known as #BlackWomensEqualPay Day for black women because that’s how long it takes for them to earn what a non-Hispanic white male earned in 2016. While the reasons that the black women’s gender wage gap persist part of the reason is that they don’t know they should negotiate.
As a Black woman I was taught to be grateful, work hard, and keep my head down. My understanding of this trifold approach to work was that I’d be rewarded in return. However, I have learned that is not the case. If I don’t ask for what I want in the workplace albeit more responsibility, a title change, a raise, or software/equipment to help me add value to the organization, I won’t get it.
While black women have continued to graduate from college at higher percentages over the past decades the wage gap has closed as much. The factors related to black women’s wage gap vary and some it is unexplained. However, there is one thing that black women can do to ensure they are getting compensated at market rate, that’s negotiating strategically while navigating racial and gender norms.
The four pillars of the negotiating for career success are:
- Prepare and Package: Find out what you should be paid in the market you work in, if in the traditional workforce check out payscale.com or linkedin.com/salary. For freelance rates visit upwork.com or freelancer.com. These sites are a starting point, it is a power play to verify the rates are realistic and make the value that you will add with peers, preferably non-Hispanic white males, because they earn the most in this country. Once you have the rate that is appropriate for your skill level, consider of all the things you’ll need to succeed in the position and package that in with the money you are seeking.
- Practice: It can be uncomfortable and emotional to #ask4more especially when you know there can be backlash for this type of request. Black women face unique stereotype suggestions, therefore, be strategic and record audio and visual as practice negotiating. This will allow you to notice behaviors and tones that have stereotypes and thus you can adjust accordingly.
- Ask: The third pillar in the framework is to move past fear, doubt, and what ifs and #ask4more!
- Decide: Finally, once you receive an offer do not just accept. It is rare that the first offer is the best offer. Ask for a couple of days to think about the offer and only give a verbal acceptance after you have had the chance to review the written offer.