I was raised up in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas, Texas in a one parent household (my father passed away when I was seven). My mom worked her ass off to give my siblings and I the best childhood that she could, so when I got the opportunity to attend college, I didn’t take it lightly. Years later in December 2011 after graduating from college a semester early, I became the first in my family to obtain a college degree (walking across the stage I could see my mom grinning with pride and I could feel the elated spirit of my dad upon me). Coming from a family where money wasn’t easily accessible, I was oh so excited to get a job and bring home my own bacon.
All throughout college, it was engrained in me to graduate, get a job (a good job with benefits), and work my way up the ladder until I got to the corner office. When it came down to pay, oddly enough those conversations from my family to me was never really had. When I graduated from college and entered the interview phase with companies, I was lost for words when the question “what is your salary requirement” came up. Similar to many other Millennials I know with a similar background, I was so gracious for just being offered a job that I never thought to negotiate my worth (or even look into what the average salary paid to ensure I wasn’t being played). So just like other Black Millennials, I would say “my salary is open” (aka pay me whatever you want because I desperately need a job), thus giving the company the full power to pay me whatever they wanted to pay.
Now that I’m a little older, have gotten my feet wet in the working space, and have been educated about the wage gap, I know better and definitely don’t neglect my worth and potential when negotiating my compensation. Career Mentor Jacqueline Twillie once noted, “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. We face unique challenges when negotiating, in comparison to our white female counterparts. July 31st, 2017 is known as #EqualPayDay for Black women because that’s how long it takes for us to earn what a non-hispanic white male earned in 2016.”
Some may argue that Black women don’t always get paid their worth because they don’t know how, what, and why they should negotiate. Graduating from college until about two years ago, I was definitely one of those people that didn’t even think about negotiating. When you come from a place of not having, the last thought that comes to mind is asking for more when you’ve already been offered something.
Nonetheless, I’m here to tell you that if I knew what I know now, I definitely would have negotiated my pay a lonnnnnnnng time ago. JacquelineTwillie has created what she calls the “Four Pillars of Negotiating” and this information is very useful for Black Millennial women like you and I who don’t know how or what to say at the negotiation table.
- 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 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.
If you have experience negotiating compensation, drop your tips below. We are all on the mission to end the wage gap!