Black Women and Equal Pay: Four Tips to Overcome Wage Inequality

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Did you know that Black women are graduating from bachelor and graduate degree programs at higher rates than any other community both by race and gender? And, that Black women have also maintained the highest workforce participation rate for women in the nation.

Yet, despite these statistics, Black women - at every economic attainment level - must work longer to achieve wage parity.  Black/African American women are paid only $0.63 on the $1.00. Meaning that, to achieve wage parity, Black women must work an additional three months and seven months to achieve equity with their white female and male counterparts, respectively.   

The contributors to the continued wage gap are vast, including most notably employment discrimination, gender and race-based bias, and lack of pay transparency.  This income inequality impacts economic opportunity for Black women including home ownership, savings and retirement, lack of affordable child care, adequate access to capital and academic opportunities for Black women, among other limitations.

Further, financial insecurity can increase stress and anxiety related health conditions of Black women who find themselves overstretched trying to meet the growing demands of a single-income household which represent roughly one-third of all Black households.

What can be done to combat the Black woman wage gap?  Below are a few tips to help empower Black women to demand their worth:

  1. Do your research.  There are a number of sites such as Glassdoor and salary.com, among others that can help to provide you with salary ranges by job type, industry, location and more.  All designed to help provide you with benchmarks needed to understand the competitiveness of your offer.

  2. Don’t feel obligated to disclose your last salary or compensation:  Often during interviews or professional meetings hiring managers or prospective clients may ask you your current or last salary or how much you charged a previous client for past work.  Neither of these are any of their business because your next endeavor more often than not is not the same role and the scope of work may be different. Pegging yourself to your past job or experience can limit future financial opportunities.  In fact, a few states have actually made inquiring into your previous salary history illegal for companies.

  3. Have multiple offers in hand.  The old adage of being hard to get also applies to salary negotiations.  Having multiple offers can allow you to evaluate your opportunities and present your final requested package or pricing with the most informed and strongest negotiation hand possible.

  4. Have a lawyer do your final representations.  Dependent upon your professional level, the complexity of salary negotiations may also include a lawyer to review final contracts and documents.  In such instances, having your lawyer provide your final representations once an offer is extended can also help let an employer know that you mean business in the most professional way possible

Leveraging one or all of the aforementioned strategies can aid in securing the financial compensation ambitious, driven Black women deserve to receive.

Natalie Madeira Cofield is the Founder & CEO of Walker’s Legacy the largest digital platform for the professional and entrepreneurial multicultural woman.  She is a frequent speaker, author and sought-after subject expert on topics related to entrepreneurship and business for women and underrepresented communities.