Today is National Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Research shows that Black women who work full-time receive about $.63 compared to every dollar that white, non-Hispanic men receive. This day sheds light on how long it takes for a Black woman to earn what their white non-Hispanic man counterparts made the prior year. While we continue to make our work environments more equitable and inclusive, we recognize that our fight towards equality is not over.


Our Marketing Communications Specialist Briana Mitchell sat down with Managing Director of Talent & Culture Megan King to discuss Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. In this in-depth convo, they discuss what Black women and allies can do to ensure Black Women are fairly compensated. 


Q: How important to you, as a Black woman in an HR leadership role, is it to advocate on behalf of Black women?

For me, advocacy and mentorship are very important. I wouldn’t have gotten to where I am in my career without my mentors. Reaching a certain level within my career, I knew that there would be fewer people that look like me. Therefore, fewer mentors and people willing to share their experience about how to climb the corporate ladder. I do believe mentorship goes both ways and that mentor and mentee relationships should be organic. Overall, I think everyone has an experience or story, and it’s important to share with people who relate to you.


Q: Do you always negotiate your salary? Do you encourage Black women to negotiate their salaries?

Yes! My first mentor was an Asian man who grew up in Brazil. He was a CFO at one of the first nonprofits I worked for. When he sent me the offer letter, I signed it right away. He called me immediately and said “You never take what someone gives you. You always review it and identify what can be improved for your benefit. No matter if you think what you’re asking for is outlandish, ask for it. You should at least have the conversation.” I was 24 years old at the time, and in every role since then, I have negotiated my salary. I always encourage Black women to do the same. 


Q: In your experience as an HR professional, have you noticed any particular demographic that negotiates more and vice versa?

Absolutely. First, there’s a split between genders. Men always negotiate their salaries even when they don’t have to because they already benefit from the wage gap. Men will ask for more, even if it only yields them 2-3 thousand dollars more annually. Women typically don’t negotiate and accept their initial offers. More specifically, Black women most definitely do not negotiate their salaries. In my experience, Black women will almost always sign their offer letters without negotiating. 

Q: Do you have any salary negotiating tips for Black women?

Acknowledge your worth and do your research! Be sure that you are well informed about the requirements of your role and determine if it’s an appropriate match for you. Negotiating takes planning, and your proposal should be well informed and professionally packaged. Your proposal should reiterate the value you will bring to the company and how the salary requests will support your efforts in fostering an ROI.


Q: What should we include in our salary negotiating package?

Review your role to consider the potential strains it could put on your daily life and decide what resources you could ask for. I’ve noticed Black women rarely ask for the tools they need to ensure they can successfully do their jobs. Consider asking your company to cover membership fees, tech reimbursement, and other tools to help you in your role. 

Q: Salary is a very taboo topic. Do you think this cultural norm of not discussing salaries openly, hinders Black women? How can Black women begin to talk about salary?

We should definitely be talking about it. Over the decades, keeping it quiet has driven the inequity. Be transparent. When you’re having conversations with your friends and colleagues, consider casually adding it into the conversation. It allows you to build a layer of trust and transparency within your circle. Be empowered to have those conversations.


Q: What can companies do to ensure that they are fairly compensating Black women. 

Companies need to be transparent about what they use as the deciding factors when hiring, promoting employees, and being honest about discretionary funds. Research shows that Black women will lose nearly one million dollars throughout their careers due to the wage gap. Your base salary, promotions, and bonuses all play into the wage gap and missed financial opportunities. In addition, leaders need to be intentional when doing compensation reviews. When reviewing compensation, you should go beyond gender and consider race, sexual orientation, and geographic location. 


Q: Are there any online resources you recommend for people to help with negotiating? 

I encourage people to use Glassdoor and Payscale. Another platform to consider is Get Raised.


Q: Do you have any parting thoughts?

Creating equitable work environments is a team effort. Whatever you can do while in your role to help create a more inclusive environment—do it! Consider mentoring, initiating the tough conversations, advocacy, pushing your organization to focus on DEI.