Black Women’s Equal Pay Day has come and gone, being observed on August 22nd as symbolic of the amount of extra time black female professionals would have to work to earn an annual salary equivalent to that of their white male counterparts. Though we discuss hypergamy and choosing “up” within the DDS camp quite a bit, it is still important to recognize the pitfalls of unfairness that await black and brown skinned women in this world simply because we are in the skin we are in.
And, while being hypergamous at home is certainly an excellent thing to fall back on, black women should still be mindful of how to navigate around such pitfalls, ensuring that the time and effort we spend on building our careers pays off to the fullest. Here are some strategies for how black women can fight against the gender and racial pay gap:
Always do your homework. When it comes to careers, salaries, and what your experience and education level will pay, what you don’t know can absolutely hurt you. It is now easier than ever to research these professional details through sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, but talking to other professionals to get the scoop helps too. You should not entertain jobs or employers that cannot pay you what you are worth, and part of how you can know what you are worth is to research it, especially among upper management colleagues. At first, this might come as a challenge; we generally frown upon discussing salaries openly in work spaces. But finding out how your skill set is valued is another way to approach the subject without directly shining a spotlight on yourself.
Do not be afraid to get up from the table. As black women, we are often conditioned to tolerate less than acceptable circumstances by default. We are often expected to hold the community up by doing the hard work with little or nothing in return, we accept subpar behavior from romantic partners and friends, and, unfortunately, many of us settle into jobs where our worth is not valued as it should be.
But this all must be reversed, in our personal lives as well as our professional lives. If an employer refuses to value you for your worth, you mustn’t be afraid to walk away. It is not an act of arrogance, it is proof that you are willing to bet on yourself. You should always have faith in yourself against any circumstance this world will throw at you. I am not saying it will be an easy road, but a black woman who can stand tall in her confidence and dignity is beautiful and powerful
3. Always negotiate your rate/salary. Just like #1, this one can be intimidating at first. Some tips: Once you’ve researched what you should be paid based on your qualifications, keep that number in your mind and entertain nothing lower. If there is a job offer on the table, let the employer or hiring party specify what they are willing to pay first, and respond accordingly.
This will give you indication of their intentions without having to make yourself too vulnerable from the start. Even if the employer offers you a salary that is beyond your expectation, if the job is secured, you lose nothing by negotiating anyway. If they say yes, then you’ve pushed even further past your expectation. If they say no, that pretty first number is still available.
4.Always believe in your worth. As I have grown in my own journey, the best weapon I have ever been able to tuck away in my arsenal was my belief that I am worth it. This is similar to #2, but has to do with the internal dialogue you have with yourself. If you do not believe you are worthy of the greatness you claim to want to achieve, you push your goals even further away from your reach. Visualize yourself ascending to the top, however that looks for you, and tell yourself that you are indeed worthy of it. Remind yourself of this during rough times. Your blessing will find you much more easily when you do.
Always keep in mind that though certain unfair injustices exist, they do not have to become your reality. The only thing that you are destined to become is whatever you decide upon. If pay inequality truly upsets you, find a way to work your magic and succeed in spite of the system. After all, the best revenge really is your paper.
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. Her personal development courses are centered on helping women realize their potential from the inside out. When she is not advising clients, teaching, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.