Leaning In: A Latina’s Journey to Negotiating a Higher Salary

Ramona - CEO:Senior WriterFirst generation college graduate, first generation to have a career not just a job, first generation to become independent before marriage? Sound familiar? Raise your hand if this describes you.

 

Often, there is a lot of pressure for us young Latinas to pave the way, to be role models. Naturally,we respect the sacrifices made by prior generations and take the responsibility of success seriously. Needless to say, we are taskmasters and work hard for that paycheck. But getting that Dinero is tricky.

We all know that the gender pay gap is no joke. According to the White House, full-time working women earn 77% of what their male counterparts earn and for  Latinas, the gap is larger, being paid on average, just 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.  To make matters worse, in the high paid industry of tech, we are almost non-existent and over-represented in low-paying retail jobs, so Leaning In, and asking for a raise is tough.

 

 





 

If we get the cojones to ask for more money or a promotion, we are often passed over or told to do more; do more networking, take on more assignments, get more experience.

 

We are advised by the mainstream media to “Lean In” — demand more from our careers — but often we are not invited to sit at the table, even at a table of other women. And our voices are not taken very seriously, especially when we are the only people of color on staff, so our ability to demand much is limited.

It can be easy to get swept up in the Lean In hype and believe that you are not doing enough, but

Does the following conversation sound familiar to you?

Me: Thank you for the offer, I look forward to getting started. If possible, I’d like to discuss my salary.

Hiring Team: Our budget for this role is fixed at this rate. Hopefully you are still excited about the offer, let me know.

Me: I understand and am grateful to have this opportunity. If the offer still stands, I accept.

I still cringe at the thought of negotiating. I hate having to fight for a fair salary, but the truth is, I have played the “under-earner” more times than I can count because I let the fear of rejection overshadow my credentials and confidence.

 

As a Latina, I have been trained to simply be thankful for a job and quietly accept. It took me nearly six years of job-hopping, pursuing mentors, and conducting proper research to undo that mindset -and figure out how I could Lean In.

 

Thankfully, I have reached a point where I can comfortably send a salary request that looks like this:

Me: I’m really excited to work at X, and I know that I will bring a lot of value. I have reviewed the offer letter, however, I am shooting for  X based on my five years of experience in digital media services and most recently, working as a one-woman multidisciplinary digital strategist for multiple clients. Based on my conversations with peers in similar roles and market research, the salary range for this mid-level position is X. I have full confidence I will exceed expectations and look forward to discussing this further.

Nerves aside, I knew I had to defy expectations if I was going to get more money. The best part? It worked. I am the only Latina on my team and when I am recognized for my winning ideas at work my confidence grows. I know that negotiating with confidence comes with practice and I am grateful for a network of professional women of color who have walked me through tough conversations.

Here are some tips to get you more Dinero in your next salary negotiation.

  1. Don’t name your salary requirements first, ever! Remember “He who speaks first loses” Need a script, here’s some wise words from Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack over at Medium.

“The salary you offer me tells me a lot about this company and I think it’s really important for me to have that information so I can compare you with my other offers. Be sure to prepare your script and practice your responses beforehand!

  1. Assume all salaries are negotiable and never accept the first offer.
  1. Know your numbers. Research comparable companies and positions on Glassdoor and add 10% more than the quoted salary. Make sure to remind the recruiter/hiring manager that you are worth more than the average person fulfilling that position for x, y, z reasons.
  2. Negotiate more than just your salary. Identify other benefits, such as working remotely or extended vacation or a better title.