Self-Assessment Quiz – True or False:

  • I practice asking for what I want.
  • I know my worth.
  • I enjoy standing out from the crowd.
  • Employers expect me to negotiate for a higher salary.

March Madness is all anyone talks about this time of year. But ladies, I want you to be up in arms and “mad” about something else: earning less than men.

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, women make up almost half of the workforce. We are the sole or co-breadwinner in half of American families with children. We receive more college and graduate degrees than men. Yet, on average, women continue to earn considerably less than men. In 2015, female full-time, year-round workers made only 80 cents for every dollar earned by men, a gender wage gap of 20%. If change continues at the same slow pace as it has done for the past fifty years, it will take 41 years (Yikes!)—or until 2059—for women to finally reach pay parity.

Sistahs, it’s even worse for us. Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay, and Hispanic women will have to wait until 2233. These are NOT typos. This is the real deal.

Say whaaa?

No, it’s not new news that women earn less than men. (Although the numbers for women of color floored me. Aren’t you shocked, too?)  But the madness comes from knowing that we aren’t doing ourselves any favors because most of us have a tendency to NOT negotiate our salaries. That means, ladies, that when we are offered jobs, we generally take our offer envelope, put it in our purses, and walk away happy with two thumbs up, planning what hot outfit to wear on that first day of work. Men, generally, open that offer envelope, look at the salary, and say, “Uhhh, can you do better, Bob?” And you know what? Bob USUALLY DOES BETTER!

Helllooo, we’ve got to get on Bob’s money train, ladies. Before we can do that, we must do two things:

1) learn to ask, and

2) not be afraid to ask.

I learned this the hard way about fourteen years ago when I was afraid to ask for a higher salary offer than I’d received. I was so afraid I would mess up the opportunity that I had my cousin Mark, an attorney, handle the salary negotiations for me. And when he told me he had asked for more than $40,000 above and beyond the company’s initial offer (which was a really GREAT offer, BTW), tears immediately sprang to my eyes. These people were going to think I was a corporate gold digger. A self-serving money grubber. And of course, they would immediately rescind said GREAT offer and tell me to get lost. At that moment I hated my cousin Mark. Seriously. By the end of the night, I’d decided I’d never liked his mama or his brothers either!

Then he called me back the next morning and said, “They didn’t even blink. We should have asked for more.” Like I was saying, I’ve always loved this particular cousin and my aunt who raised him and his awesome brothers, too!

Mark and I laugh about it now, but negotiating for a higher salary is no laughing matter. I started researching the topic. There’s one book, Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change by Linda Babcock and Sara Laschever, that truly affected me and inspired me to learn how to ask for what I was worth when it came to salary negotiation. I highly suggest you make a date with this book and spend some time between its covers! It’s an oldie but goodie!

Since then, I’ve been on both sides of the negotiating table. As a result, when I speak to career women about salary negotiations, I offer them rebel yells to keep in their heads:

  • I know my worth and the market value for my job!
  • I strip all emotion from salary negotiating! Even when asking for a raise. It’s  just a single line item on someone’s much more massive budget!

Ladies, if you keep these chants in your head, you won’t have to wear yourself out picketing for the next 44-215 FRIGGIN’ YEARS, begging for equal wages. Because you have already negotiated your way to what you deserve by asking for it up front.  Now go back and take that self-assessment quiz again, and answer TRUE to all the questions!


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