This year, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day falls on July 31. This is the day when black women finally earn what the typical white male earned by December 31, 2016; meaning, black women had to work more than a year and a half to earn what most white men earned in only a year.
This stark reality reflects the continuing pay gap that black women experience, earning just 63 cents to the dollar of white men compared to the 80 cents to the dollar earned by women overall.
The implications of this pay inequity are tremendous and expands exponentially over time. It’s been estimated that the typical black woman will lose over $877,000 strictly due to pay inequity throughout her career.
While there are many reasons why this inequity exists, not the least of which is the continuing reality of institutionalized discrimination, one of the ways that black women can chip away at this gap, is to strengthen their salary negotiation skills.
Here are five tips to actively advocate for more earning power and ultimately, get paid what you’re worth.
1. Commit to Negotiate
Some 70% of women completely skip the negotiation process all. For many, the job search process can itself be so daunting that getting to this stage in the game feels like a welcomed finish line. But keep in mind, you got the offer because after an exhaustive search, you’ve risen to the top. Realize that once the offer has been extended, the power dynamic has officially shifted. The pursued has now become the pursuer. This will likely be the most powerful negotiating position you will enjoy throughout your relationship with the organization. So seize the moment. Take advantage of this window of opportunity and push for what you know you deserve.
2. Do Your Homework
It’s critical to get a realistic assessment of the ballpark you should play in. Do your homework by using websites like payscale.com, salary.com or comparably.com in order to get a sense of what others in your industry and in your geographic area, with your level of experience and credentials earn for the same work. And to get a more nuanced understanding of organizational culture before you say yes, use the intelligence provided by comparably.com which gives you insights on employee experiences at the organization you’re considering. Certainly, no level of compensation is worth placing yourself in a toxic organizational environment that could be damaging to your career in the long run.
3.When Talking Numbers, Don’t Be the First to Blink
Try your best to avoid being the first to talk specific numbers. That means to the extent possible, avoid divulging your current salary. And if asked what you’re looking for in terms of compensation for your new role, say something general like, “I take into consideration a number of factors beyond salary when making decisions around job opportunities. But as far as salary is concerned, what range will you be working within?” Ultimately, you want them to be the first to mention the range that they have in mind. Generally speaking, the person who gives this critical bit of information first, tends to be at the disadvantage.
4. Avoid the Rush to Yes
Too often when a salary offer is made, the immediate reflex is to just say yes. Instead, just say thank you. Then take a moment to remind them of one or two of your stand out specifics regarding your background, experience, or expertise. With that reiterated, counter their offer with a more aggressive salary range, making sure that your range is in-line with your prior research. In other words, ask for more and remind them why you’re worth it. And then STOP SPEAKING. Wait for a response. This is where the true negotiations begin. The process could take days of back and forth to get a number you’re both happy with, and that’s perfectly fine. In fact, if they say yes too quickly, it’s likely you didn’t ask for enough.
5. Remember, More than Money is on the Table
Once you’ve agreed to a number you’re happy with (or even if they can’t fully get to what you’re looking for), know that more than salary is on the table. Now’s the time to ask for additional vacation time, flexible work schedules, opportunities for bonuses, professional development support and more. Remind yourself that what you’re negotiating is an entire package, not just a salary. So think broadly about what you want and need to feel satisfied, fulfilled, and happy in your new position. Then commit yourself to push to make it happen.