Seventy-nine cents on the dollar: That’s the number we’ve become accustomed to hearing when discussing the gender wage gap. But grim as it is, further research has revealed that that number applies only to the wage discrepancy for white women. Despite now being the most educated population in America, black women earn a meager 63 cents for each dollar earned by a white man. Native American and Latinx women? Even less.
Perhaps because of this constant undervaluing, black women often experience some insecurity when it comes to advocating for themselves in professional spaces—namely, asking for the salaries, raises and promotions they deserve. While, on average, 3 out of 5 employees accept the salary they are offered without negotiation, a whopping 68 percent women fail to negotiate, while only 52 percent of men do.
That said, negotiating is risky business—only 1 in 10 employees succeed in securing salary increases. But of those who make the attempt, men are generally three times more successful at getting positive results than their female counterparts.
So where does this leave women—and especially black women (since that’s who we are)—in asking for our worth? Lifestyle site The Cut offered some support in the form of a compiled list of advice and anecdotes from some of the most successful women in the world—including some of our personal faves.
Granted, we’re not all millionaires and megastars, but this list of luminaries provided some surprisingly relatable advice on how to ask for what you deserve, stand up for other women and continue to challenge the wage gap (which currently isn’t expected to close before 2058—for American white women, that is).
You can read the words of the 25 incredibly inspiring women whom The Cut quoted here, but we’ve selected a few of our favorites to share. The bottom line? You don’t have to settle for being a statistic; know your worth and ask for it. Because whether you win or not, you’ll never know if you don’t ask!
Bozoma Saint John
“Do the work. Don’t just call a number out of the sky. Know the range and then exceed the range because then you can negotiate down just a little bit.”
“I told my [last] boss, ‘This is what I have: two small kids. My husband is running for the U.S. Senate. I will not work part time. I need flexibility. I need a good salary. I need to be able to afford babysitting. And if you can do all that, and you’re willing to be flexible with me because I will get the job done, I can work hard on a flexible schedule.’ I was very clear. And he said yes to everything.”
“In my career, I’ve tried to use negotiation to ensure I’m being paid fairly. ... I constantly had to set my price points, which was hard in the beginning because I honestly didn’t know my worth. In addition to that, I was so eager to work that I was pretty much willing to work for any price point. As I grew more confident in my work, I began to set my prices higher. Sometimes I’d get resistance and sometimes I wouldn’t get the job at all. I’d often have to convince them that I was worth the money. …
“A lot of us were raised with the belief that it’s not polite to talk about money. If we want to close the pay gap, it’s time to stop being polite and start talking about equal pay.”
“One thing I learned along the way in business is the necessity to be unapologetic about asking for how much money you deserve. … If you know you’re great at what you do, don’t ever be ashamed to ask for the top dollar in your field.”
“[W]hen I first started The Oprah Show … we syndicated, and I have all women producers, five women … I went in and I said, ‘Everybody needs raises.’ And the management at the time said, ‘Why do they need raises? Why do a bunch of girls need raises? They’re not married, they don’t have children, they don’t their own houses.’ This was in 1985 in Chicago … I said if you don’t give them money, then I’m going to sit down.”
“We need to stop buying into the myth about gender equality. It isn’t a reality yet. Today, women make up half of the U.S. workforce, but the average working woman earns only 77 percent of what the average working man makes. But unless women and men both say this is unacceptable, things will not change. Men have to demand that their wives, daughters, mothers and sisters earn more—commensurate with their qualifications and not their gender. Equality will be achieved when men and women are granted equal pay and equal respect.”
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. And while she wasn’t on The Cut’s list, we also couldn’t overlook the GOAT, who wrote an essay full of advice especially for us last summer in Fortune magazine: