How to bridge the salary gap for women of color

Women of color earn substantially less than white men over the course of a 40-year career.  Based on today’s wage gapLatinas career losses mount to $1 million, and for Black women losses are $840,040.

And the situation is even worse for women of color living in certain states. Compared to the earnings of white, non-Hispanic men, the lifetime wage gap would amount to more than $1 million for Asian women in one state, for Black women in nine states, for Native women in eight states, and for Latinas in 22 states.

To make matters worse, women of color face challenges when/if they try to bridge that gap through salary negotiations.  Jacqueline Twillie says: “Cultural expressions of women of color in regards tone inflection can sometimes be perceived as aggressiveness,”.

Allow me to recap:

  • Women earn less than men
  • Women of color earn a lot less than men
  • Women of color are more likely to be perceived as aggressive if they ask for what they deserve

My opinion on how to bridge the salary gap, and in some cases reverse it

  1. Build your confidence. Do your homework.  You must know the salary range that your qualifications command.  Do not rely on a google search.  Talk to people in the industry to validate your estimated range.
  2. Focus on what you can influence. That’s my nice way to say: “haters are going to hate“.  There isn’t much you can do about it.  So go unapologetically into the salary discussion, give it your best and forget about any potential bias.
  3. Aim high and use “an iron fist in a velvet glove”.  This is a great [edited] script from Ramona Ortega:  “I’m really excited to work at X, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I have reviewed the offer letter, however, I am shooting for X based on my five years of experience in X. Based on my conversations with peers in similar roles and market research, the salary range for this position is X. I have full confidence I will exceed expectations and look forward to discussing this further.”
  4. Practice with white men.  The challenge about culture, is that some of it is so deep in our personality that we are unaware of it.  You do not know what you do not know.  Someone with a different cultural background, preferably similar to the hiring manager.
  5. Use the situation to your advantage.  Equal pay is omnipresent in the news.  Most hiring managers have heard about it.  Some hiring managers do not want to be on the wrong side of this.  Ask for more, these hiring managers will probably accept to pay a premium.

Let’s be proactive to solve this issue.  Share your success stories or learnings from your failures in comments.  That alone will contribute to bridging the salary gap