5 Strategies for Salary Negotiation as a Woman of Color
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- Women of color face unique barriers when negotiating salary before accepting a job offer.
- Many employers expect candidates to negotiate salary during the hiring process.
- Prepare in advance to negotiate your salary by researching the typical wages for jobs in your industry.
- Highlight and quantify your achievements to demonstrate value and justify the salary you deserve.
Salary negotiations can be awkward and stressful for anyone. For women of color — who often face unique challenges in the workplace due to being historically underserved and underrepresented in certain roles and disciplines — negotiating salary may feel especially overwhelming.
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Depending on their race or ethnicity, many women of color make significantly less than white men, as highlighted by a 2022 pay gap report from Payscale. For example, among workers with a bachelor's degree, American Indian and Alaska Native women are paid 71 cents for every dollar earned by white men, while Hispanic and Black women are paid 78 cents and 79 cents, respectively. The gender pay gap has discouraged many women of color when negotiating salaries in the job market.
Although these barriers may seem daunting, you can still negotiate a salary as a woman of color that reflects the value you can bring to a company or employer. Negotiate your next salary offer effectively by taking advantage of the following techniques.
Do Your Research
Research is the first step in preparing to negotiate your salary. Before accepting a job offer, research the average salary range for the same job title or jobs related to your field. Use online resources like Glassdoor to identify salaries for jobs within the company. This will give you a sense of the employer's pay scale and if it's within the salary range you're looking for.
Some questions to answer when doing your research before negotiating your salary:
What's the average salary for the same job title or similar titles in my industry?
Does this salary match average salaries in my area?
What salary range matches my skill set and level of experience?
Decide on a target salary range that matches your experience to inform your negotiations.
Highlight What You Can Offer to the Company
Some women of color may undervalue their skills in the workplace and downplay their contributions. In addition, women of color (particularly Black women) may intentionally avoid being assertive in fear of being perceived as an "angry Black woman" — this misogynistic and racist stereotype can do real harm to women in the workplace. Do your best to shut out society's unfair and negative thoughts about your gender and race. Build your confidence by focusing on your strengths and experiences as a professional. Know your worth and speak to what you can offer.
Receiving a job offer means that an employer sees potential in you and what you can bring to the role. Advocate for yourself during the hiring process like you would for others in the workplace. Assess and quantify your achievements to negotiate a salary that reflects your worth. Provide specific examples of your accomplishments and how you will be an asset to the employer to get the salary you deserve.
Here are a few ways to highlight your achievements when negotiating salary:
"Because of my expertise and knowledge, my current company has seen double-digit growth, and I'm confident I can achieve these same results for your company at a yearly salary of [add desired salary here]."
"I have been recognized for my achievements in the workplace, which makes me an asset to any company, and my desired salary of [add desired salary here] reflects that."
"My training and certifications are proven indicators that I can exceed the expectations you've set for this role. Because of that, I feel that a base salary of [add desired salary here] matches my level of expertise."
Use Different Negotiation Tactics
Going into salary negotiations as a woman of color can seem intimidating, especially in fields that have a history of being dominated by white men, such as STEM. Be prepared by practicing different ways to ask for a better salary before accepting the job offer.
One tip for negotiating your salary effectively is to be firm and assertive with your approach. Be assertive by showing the hiring manager you've done your research and know what you're talking about. This can signify that you know what a reasonable salary looks like for the position in question. Many employers expect you to negotiate salary, so stay the course and don't take the first offer out of fear of losing the job.
Another tactic to use when negotiating a salary is to present a number that is higher than your target, assuming an employer may negotiate down or meet you in the middle. For example, if the initial offer is $60,000 and your research indicates someone with your experience and education makes an average of $65,000, consider asking for $70,000. This may increase the odds you'll get a salary offer you're comfortable accepting.
Negotiate Other Benefits Besides Salary
If the salary for a job offer seems firm but is still lower than you'd like, consider being flexible and negotiating other perks and benefits. Account for the total compensation package to negotiate other benefits outside of pay, such as opportunities for remote work, extra vacation hours, or a better job title. Negotiating other benefits helps meet an employer in the middle and makes the offer more well-rounded for you.
Don't jump into a salary negotiation without practicing beforehand and getting feedback. Reach out to family members, trusted co-workers, or friends to get advice on how to negotiate salary.
Colleagues in your field can help you assess what a fair salary looks like. And close friends are great to practice salary negotiations with — they can provide encouragement if you're feeling anxious or worried. Getting feedback helps better inform your negotiations.
Resources for Salary Negotiation
This online resource offers tools to help analyze your current salary and create a personalized action plan for your career.
This job search website highlights top-paying companies based on reported salaries. It also hosts a pay range calculator to help estimate how much you should be earning based on your job title, location, and more.
This personal finance tool features a cost of living calculator to compare and break down your desired salary by city and estimate living expenses.
Depending on your field, there may be specific organizations or societies that provide targeted support and resources for professional women of color, such as the Society of STEM Women of Color.
Frequently Asked Questions About Salary Negotiation
What is an appropriate salary to negotiate?
An appropriate salary depends on various factors, from your level of experience to the current rate for related jobs in your industry. Handshake suggests starting with a figure that is 10-20% above the initial offer.
Research the current salaries for job titles in your field that are similar to the role you're looking at. And find the typical salary range for related jobs in your geographic area. Talk to colleagues and mentors in your industry about their salaries and ask for their feedback to give you a sense of a fair salary to negotiate. There is no one specific pay rate for every job at every level, but by conducting research you can come up with a salary range tailored to the role you want that's fair.
Do employers expect you to negotiate salary?
Many employers expect potential candidates to negotiate salary during the hiring process. When a job offer is extended after the interview process, the hiring manager and recruiter will propose a salary and benefits package. Take your time to review your job offer and do your research to negotiate a salary and benefits that are right for you.
Can negotiating salary backfire?
In most cases, the worst that can happen if you try to negotiate a salary offer is the employer saying that their initial offer is firm. However, if you're not careful about your tactics, negotiating your salary could hurt your chances of securing a new job. Be mindful of your approach during negotiations. Avoid negotiating salary without a firm offer or leveraging two job offers against each other to try and get the best deal.
Additionally, make sure you're effectively negotiating a salary that is fair to you and the company. Don't rely too heavily on salary estimates from job sites without digging into the current salary range the employer is offering.