Black Womens Equal Pay Day represents how long it would take for a black woman to make the same amount of money that the average white man made in 2016. Comparatively, black women make 63 cents on the dollar.
About a year ago, my mentor sent me an article featured in Huff Post. Aside from identifying how Women of Color were disproportionately represented in corporate America, it discusses how Black women are often more ambitious in the work place but don’t get nearly as far. After reading the article and sharing with many of my friends, I found it directly correlated with our ability to successfully navigate the workplace and understand our value as it relates to compensation in that space.
It wasn’t until I negotiated my first salary fresh out of graduate school at the age of 26 that I truly understood compensation is often diminished by our sheer desire to just “get the job.” During my negotiating process, I asked four people if I should present a counter offer: all were consummate professionals that I trusted. Three of them told me no and that my offer could possibly be rescinded; only one told me yes. This experience taught me that culturally, women of color, specifically Black women, are often told they should be appreciative of their opportunities. Rarely are we encouraged to push the limits and even when we do lean in, it’s not enough.
Considering that Black women continue to pursue advanced degrees but often receive far less than our male and white counterparts, it is clear that the pay equity gap is an ongoing battle. Nonetheless, we must keep asking for equal pay, and challenging a society and culture that tells us that we don’t deserve it.
And, we always tell young women to never accept the first offer.