Black Women Deserve Equal Pay

Today is Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. I struggled with this issue my whole career. Knowing I was sometimes being paid less for equal work. And it is so hard to prove and navigate. There’s no transparency around salaries and even when you have the facts, I’m telling you, it’s really hard to walk into a room and ask your boss or HR why your counterparts are earning more than you. Black women make on average, 63 cents for every dollar a man makes and 17% less than their while female counterparts. Awareness and acknowledgement are the first step. Then we need to implement policy and put in safeguards that protect people of color in the workplace.

Equal pay for equal work

I recently had to negotiate my fee for a new consulting gig. I wasn't really happy with their proposed rate so I countered. And the other party offered me more money, but still less than the amount I’d requested. Despite this, I immediately accepted.  Because in my mind, it was still a pretty good offer.

I’d fallen into a classic trap and was instantly annoyed with myself.  Why did I give up so easily? Because I was afraid the offer might go away? Or didn't want to seem too pushy or greedy? Though at least I negotiated. Did you know that 70% of women don't negotiate their salaries at all? 

Today is National Equal Pay Day. A host of initiatives aim to bring awareness and action to the problem, and celebrities such as Jennifer Lawrence, Patricia Arquette and Sheryl Sandberg have or are speaking out on the issue. Women are paid 78 cents for every dollar a man makes and it’s a practice that needs to stop. Women need to know their value and be unafraid to hold out for what they want. And it's worth being prepared before you go to the negotiating table.  If you're unsure, it always helps to ask advice from successful peers and mentors about negotiating style.