It was September 2015.
I had just inhaled a few Torchy’s Tacos in my car because I was using my lunch hour to secretly search for jobs on my cell phone – all while in my company’s parking lot. #savage
I had just completed my MBA 4 months prior and was job searching. After years of working at my current job, upward mobility and an increase in pay were scarce (because of the “budget” they claimed). With my new degree in my hand and years of experience under my belt, I was sick and tired of making less than I deserved.
After what felt like minutes instead of an hour, my lunch ended and back to work I went. As soon as I entered my office, my boss came in and asked to speak with me.
My boss was getting a promotion and wanted me to take their position (look at God!). After learning about my new salary compensation package that would come with the promotion, I damn near shouted “yes”. The way that I looked at it, God was finally answering my prayers; I was getting a new job and securing the bag – or so I thought.
Immediately saying “yes” to that job offer turned out to be one of the BIGGEST money mistakes that I’ve made thus far. Soon after working in my new role, I learned that I was making more than $30K LESS than what the previous person in my role was making.
$30K less ya’ll!
Sadly, my reality isn’t unheard of – especially when it comes down to many Black women. Many of us don’t negotiate our salary and instead take the very first offer that’s given to us. If I could go back in time, I definitely would’ve done things much differently. #whenyouknowbetteryoudobetter
Do you remember how your first job offer went as an adult? Were you guilty of making the same mistake that I made?
Out of the many factors that are already contributing to a lack of equal pay for Black women, failing to negotiate and ask for our worth is one of the driving forces.
Recently, I was able to speak with 5 Black, millennial women that work in a variety of industries on the things that they wish they knew about salary negotiation and equal pay.
Keep reading to learn their stories and their words of wisdom.
Name: Alexandria Williams
Title: Marketing & Promotions Manager – Cinemark World Headquarters, Owner – Sparkle & Vibes E-Jewelry Boutique
Instagram: @Alexandria.Wiliams @SparkleandVibes
“I wish I would have gotten “promises” of salary increases in writing and not just verbally before I accepted past offers. I have been blessed to work for and with some major corporations, CBS Television affiliate in Houston and now Cinemark World Headquarters to name a couple.
Ladies, also I have one more thing to say and it’s GET YOUR MONEY UPFRONT! I feel like as women, we think that if we ask for what we actually want, then it will hinder our chances of getting the job when that is just not true. We shouldn’t get crazy with requests, but you should definitely not be afraid to ask for what you want and deserve!”
Name: Taylor Reed
Title: Associate Product Development Manager
“The first thing I wish I had known was to always ask for 10%-20% more than my current salary. Adding that extra cushion gives you leverage when it’s time to negotiate and you’re more likely to walk away with more than you asked for.
The second thing I wish I had known was to have the confidence to advocate for myself. When negotiating your salary, the employer will always want to know ‘Why should we give you this requested amount of money?’. You need to always have strong examples as to why you are deserving of your request. Remind the employer why you are an asset based on your past performances and future potential. This specific tip can be applied to when asking for a raise as well. Last but not least, always champion for yourself!”
Name: M. C. Walker
Title: Celebrity Ghostwriter
“My biggest tips would be to ask for what you deserve, not what you need to do the job/task. Often times I would put my heart on the line to secure a contract with a client. I would be willing to work within a tight or limited budget. I would agree to sacrifice my time and energy for a little reward, I would overextend myself on a project. Why? Fear of not getting the client and/or fear of feeling like an amateur if I couldn’t close a deal. I would settle for less than I deserved and overextend myself to compensate for my lack of experience, knowledge, or bandwidth to take on the demands of the work. In the end, I was breadcrumbing my way through building my portfolio. I had to learn to speak up for my future self and ask not only for what I needed to get the job done. But, what it would take for me to comfortable and confident in similar situations.
Lastly, know your non-negotiable and don’t budge on your value or worth to secure the account.”
Name: Emerald Elitou
Title: EIC of Total Girl Inspo
“I was fortunate enough to be taught early in my life from my parents that you ‘never sign the first draft.’
I remember the first opportunity that I received as a freelance writer, I got an offer that I thought was pretty fair but the words of my parents rang in my ears and I countered the offer. Surprisingly, they met in the middle but the pay increased. I was so glad to have listened to their wisdom.”
Name: Paulana Lamonier
Title: Social Media Strategist for New York Institute of Technology
“I wish I knew more about my benefits and whether or not we get annual raises. I did my research and made sure I negotiated fairly based on my experience, and my job description, but I do wish I knew more about our benefits, health insurance, perks, and annual raises and bonuses.
Some companies give bonuses for not using any of your sick days. I once had a math teacher, Mr. Baer, and he never took a sick day. Asked him why and that’s because he wanted the company bonuses. Lol.”