A Black Woman’s Worth at Work in 2020

  • I’ve seen the devastating impacts of Hurricane Isaias in Courtland, VA.
  • The city in which I reside experienced a 5.1 magnitude earthquake.
  • Kamala Harris made history as the first Black woman Vice President nominee. (Side note: I’m celebrating, but it took how long??????!?!?!?)
  1. In the 25 states (including District of Columbia) with the largest numbers of Black women working full-time, year-round pay for Black women ranges from 47 to 67 cents for every dollar paid to White, non-Hispanic men in those states. In 2019, it was actually 48 to 68 cents.
  2. Median wages for Black women in the US are $38,036 per year compared to median wages of $61,576 annually for White, non-Hispanic men, which equates to a difference of $23,540 annually.
  3. If the wage gap were eliminated, on average a Black woman working full-time, year-round would have enough money for:
  • 2.5 more years of child care.
  • 2.5 additional years of tuition and fees for a four-year public university, or the full cost of tuition and fees for a two-year community college.
  • 156 more weeks of food for her family (more than three years’ worth).
  • 15 more months of mortgage and utilities payments; nearly 23 more months of rent.
  • 16 additional months of premiums for employer-based health insurance.
  • Enough money to eliminate student loan debt in approximately one year.
  • Know what we want professionally, so we can develop and implement a career strategy.
  • Be willing to monitor our success, which includes reevaluation and course correcting when necessary.
  • Be willing to learn technology, processes, and procedures, and understand interdependencies.
  • Take responsibility for our careers, minus a passive approach that includes expecting someone else to manage our careers.
  • Accept leadership positions on projects to demonstrate competencies.

Cultivate social capital.

Some doors will only open from the inside. With this in mind, you’ll need to intentionally sustain relationships in conjunction with having a mentor, sponsor, and coach at every level of your career.

Strive for excellence instead of perfection.

Overcoming doubts and negative self-worth will change your life, not just your career. Women must realize perfectionism is an unrealistic expectation, and many times we fail to meet the expectation because we’ve created a faulty standard.

Negotiate salary.

Not negotiating is an aspect of this issue that every woman can control at some point in her career. I suggest that when you do engage in compensation negotiations, that you:

  • Execute with confidence, strategy, and specifics, not emotion.
  • Focus on mutual wins (including employer needs).
  • Know your bottom line (“walking point”).
  • Proactively prepare a counter-offer.
  • Consider non-salary “wins” such as professional development, health memberships, etc.

Take ownership, take control, and be accountable.

Women must own the “inside work” that ultimately changes their career story. If we want something better and/or different, we must take action, which includes stating what we need, no longer sitting on our ask, and not expecting others “to know” our requirements or desires.

  • Leverage your transferable skills and transcend industry; don’t limit yourself to the familiar.
  • Research the fastest-growing industries and assess where you stand from a skill, experience, and education perspective. Will you need to reskill and/or upskill?
  • Create a plan (that includes compensation research) for your next career move with the future in mind.
  • Performance conversations: Arrive prepared with your documentation that demonstrates how you’ve exceeded performance and how your contribution results in growth based on the organization’s objectives. Then ask for more money.
  • Pivot: Consider a different line of business within the company. Believe it or not, you can make more money in a totally different department without having to pursue additional coursework. Your existing expertise is MORE than enough; I’ve experienced mobility and more money doing this and so have my clients.
  • Interviewing: Whether it’s internally or externally, it was the one thing that increased my salary consistently throughout the course of my career. Being married to a role was never the goal when I could “weigh my options” and earn more in the process.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Ellevate Network

Ellevate Network

A community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed.