Salary Negotiation as a Black Woman in Corporate America
BY: MARISSA RAE
Reading time: 3 minutes
As Black women, we are conditioned to believe that anything we receive beyond the bare minimum is a blessing. We are not taught our true value and are not taught to require that everyone we interact with treat us as though they recognize that value. This lands us in situations where we are under-appreciated and under-compensated, especially in the workplace. According to Economic Policy Institute, Black women make an average of $7.83/hour less than White men. To put it in perspective, that’s $16,286.40 a year. While this issue is one that is much bigger than you and me, it is so very important and so very necessary that Black women begin demanding what we deserve in the workplace. We are qualified, and highly sought after to do the jobs we do, and we should be compensated accordingly.
I’ve had two salary jobs since graduating college in 2016. I did not do any negotiating on my first salary but when I applied for my second job, I listed my salary at that time as my “desired salary.” During my phone screening, the representative expressed to me that they had a budget of $5k less than what I’d asked. I made it very clear to her that I was uninterested in taking a pay cut, and that if they couldn’t promise what I’d asked, there’d be no point in going forward with the interview process. I later received a call inviting me in for an in-person interview and confirming that they would, indeed, match my salary. This was prior to them even meeting me! It was at that moment that one thing became clear: there’s always wiggle room if you ask for it. We have to start asking.
During my application process, I was advised to create a loose budget, and use that to determine how much I’d need to make to live comfortably. Aside from monthly bills, here are some other things you may want to take into consideration: a tangible savings account for a rainy day, a retirement account of some sort, and fun money so that you can enjoy life in your free time.
I know that everyone isn’t in a position to turn away jobs. Sometimes life’s circumstances require us to do what we have to do, not necessarily what we want to do. However, you do not take whatever you’re offered because it’s “better than nothing”. You worked hard to get where you are, and you deserve to enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself. Negotiate, and negotiate again if you have to. You’re qualified, and you’re worthy.
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