Black Track: August 19, 2022

Bring Forward Pay Transparency Laws

A key component of career preparation courses, career self-help books, and mentorship guides are encouraging the participant/reader to negotiate their salary. Many shout a mantra, “Know Your Worth!”, to cheer women into asking for higher pay, more vacation days, different perks, or other items they desire to have a great, full compensation package. The salary negotiation, especially early in a career, can have a lifetime impact. For Black women, salary negotiation is ever increasingly important to counter the pay equity gap, and there is a need for policies that knock down the barriers to pay equity.
A person’s salary has growth potential, starting with a few thousand dollars more over years makes a large impact. For many professionals, salary increases are a percentage of the existing salary. Thus, every raise is impacted by the starting salary. Employer contributions to retirement plans are also usually a percentage, adding to the full compensation package. Another contributor to salary growth is the tendency of employers to use salary history in making offers. Negotiating a higher salary in the beginning over a career lifetime can result in an estimated $1 million difference[1]. Encouraging Black women to negotiate salary is a tool hyped as one fix to current pay inequity.
Yet, there are many barriers to negotiating for Black women, it is not as simple as just asking. Women of color report that they feel guilty asking for more than what is offered, and that they have been coached to accept offers without negotiating for many reasons. Black women have experienced that when they negotiate, they are misinterpreted as angry and difficult. Black women may be working to protect their professional image when they skip negotiating. In addition, negotiation training tools often urge women to be ready to leave the table, which for many Black women does not seem like an option[2]. And, many Black women may not be aware of the expected salary for their positions, or not negotiating because they believe they have been offered equitable pay. With these barriers, negotiating salary cannot be the primary way to fix pay inequity.

The Center for American Progress provides a list of solutions to the pay inequity problem for Black women. One with great promise is increasing pay transparency. When employers publish their pay data it exposes pay differences and results in closing pay gaps. Publishing pay data can be done by providing the pay of employees, but also can be done by ensuring that all job postings include a salary range[3].

More and more attention is being given to the issue of pay inequity, and more employers are invested in reducing pay gaps for its benefit of recruiting and retaining workers. Several states and cities are passing laws that require pay transparency[4]. Federal legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act can move forward pay equity for Black women. And Black women, powerful and aware of their worth, can build their skills in negotiating. Black women know their worth, society must create legislation that demolishes the existing barriers for them being paid their worth.

Join us on September 21st to continue the conversation and to commemorate Black Women’s Pay Equity Day. We will hear from Ebony Isis Booth, “Radical Self Care as Community Care”, and review several tools and advocacy that can be used to move forward pay equity for Black women.

Register now: