At the same time, however, Black women are only paid $0.63 for every $1 earned by their white male counterparts.
Equal Pay Day was on April 2—the date in 2019 that the average white woman had to work to earn as much money as her white, non-Hispanic male colleagues earned by the close of 2018. But on August 22, four months more than white women - eight months into the ‘new’ year - black women finally hit the mark for our own “equal pay day.”
Though black women own more than 1.5 million businesses, the inequality in earnings put us at a loss of more than $23,000 a year or more than $900,000 over the course of a 40-year career. According to Forbes, “black women, at this pace, would have to wait until 2119 to reach pay parity.”
"This is really not okay," says Shannon Williams, Program Director for Equal Pay Today (an initiative by Equal Rights Advocates). "It’s not equitable, and when we’re not paying people fairly, we’re all losing."
Though the wage gap issue is currently a losing battle, one that ripples negative effects through black households, families, and the communities in which we reside, black women may still be able to negotiate for equal pay.
Tanya Tarr of Forbes asked a network of successful black women to share advice they would give their younger selves. From CEOs and executives at some of the largest companies in the world to small business owners, here’s their take on how to negotiate for equal pay.
Cultivate your team
Minda Harts, Founder of The Memo
“Success is not a solo sport,” Hart says. She suggests that networking internally is strategically vital to securing a seat at the table where decisions are made.
Modjossorica Elysee, Founder and CEO, BeautyLynk
"Build a brain-trust of individuals you can talk to about your career and your salary. Having a group like this can help you build your confidence."
Dr. Cheryl Ingram, CEO and Founder of Inclusology
Ingram encourages you to "not be afraid to ask for support, and make sure you tell your potential mentor exactly what you need from them."
Katrina Jones, Adjunct Assistant Professor at NYU Wagner
Jones suggests being brave about sharing salary information with friends. "Culturally, this is fairly taboo among Black women, but it can help you to understand pay by industry and function, and can help you all get more comfortable having conversations about money and finances.”
Think beyond compensation
Professor Jones mentions to, "consider what you need financially, not just at your current stage of life, but in the next five years. For example, negotiating for more stock or equity now can help you afford the downpayment for a house later or pay for your kids' future education.”
Jessica Hartley, digital and innovation executive at Accenture
Hartley wants you to know that, "it's not always going to be about the title or the money. Sometimes it is going to be flexibility, time off, the ability to learn or do something new.”
Know your audience
Tracey Veal, healthcare executive with Aetna
“You need to align with the audience that you are talking with, and sometimes that alignment does have to do with something as simple as the clothes you’re wearing.”
Candice Hamilton, Owner of Kyle Cleaning Professionals
“The better you know your market and your customer’s points of pain, the better you can communicate the value of your solution.”
Own and define your value
Jacquette M. Timmons, President and CEO of Sterling Investment Management
"When it comes to the price you charge or the compensation package you're negotiating, your 'ask' is based on the value you bring to the situation. This might be how you solve a problem, or how you help navigate a challenge, or reach a goal. Be sure to connect value to what it is that only you can bring to the table."
Elizabeth Henderson, Music licensing specialist
"Understand who you are negotiating with and understand the concept of leverage."
Melissa Owusu, Innovation manager with Accenture Digital in the United Kingdom
"By focusing on your unique selling points and the value you add to your company, you can ask for what you need with confidence and credibility."
Control your time
Teresa Younger, CEO MsFoundation
“Always feel free to step away from the table. "You do not have to make any negotiation at that very moment. You can say to someone 'I'll get back to you' in 24 hours or 15 minutes or whatever you need it to be. Own your space, because that's power."
Jehmu Greene, Fox News political analyst
A former boss urged Greene to never accept the first offer and always ask for more. "Even though the eventual offer would almost double my salary (and I had literally jumped for joy when it came in), I told the [organization] I needed to think about it, waited a day and asked for $5,000 more. In the end, I got $2500 more than what they offered. It was an extremely important lesson to learn at 25.”
Know all your options
Suki Fuller, CEO of Salaam Ventures and Founder of Miribure
"Always add 20-30% to what you’re asking for. Be sure to have multiple options when you get to that price discussion. What’s your top rate, you’re more affordable rate and your free option.”
Angela Shaw, A human resources manager
"Set yourself up for success by holding the power through having several income streams.”
Mary Snowden-Lorence, Talent and career development professional
“Always be prepared, and don't let anyone catch you 'off of your game.'” Snowden-Lorence points out that many people fail to negotiate due to a lack of knowledge, awareness, preparation, intimidation or lack of confidence. But “the more you prepare,” she says, “the more you can minimize fear and maximize confidence.”
Jacqueline Twillie, Founder and President of ZeroGap Consultants
Encourages black women to not accept a "no" as a final offer. Twillie says that, "'No' in negotiations is a signal to get creative and find ways to create mutual benefits."
Define your purpose
Amber Jackson, Vice president of sales and a mentor
"You can find purpose in your career at the intersection of what you do well, what helps others, and what someone is willing to pay you to do. Pursue all three to find the most fulfillment from your career.”
Dee-Dee Loftin Davis, Diversity and inclusion consultant
"Seeking positions that bring together your passion while highlighting your skills, experience and knowledge, and find ways to show how these assets benefit the company you’re talking with."
Be fearless in mindset
Jennifer Sconyers, President and Founder of Abundance Leadership Consulting
"Now that I am a business owner, I've learned that coming into professional or corporate space with the right mindset can make all of the difference." Sconyers adds that, "the advice that I would give my younger self is to not be scared to ask for what you want," Sconyers said. "The truth is, all things can be negotiated, and all you need to do is ask.”
Tamesha Keel, CEO of LawPortunities
"Always remember that negotiation is a part of life and everything is negotiable."