We Asked 7 Latinas About Salary Negotiation Strategies And Pay Equality
In our younger years as students, it wasn’t uncommon to hear the phrase “no such thing as a stupid question” from our teachers and professors. The somewhat trite and extremely common phrase was meant to drill into us as young pupils that our quest for knowledge, no matter how new or obvious the answers might be, could never be bad. So why is it that as adults we still struggle to ask questions around salary? More importantly, why do we as Latinas hold ourselves back from speaking up and negotiating for the income we know we deserve?
In 2007 a famous study conducted by Linda Babcock for her book, “Women Don’t Ask: The High Cost of Avoiding Negotiation—and Positive Strategies for Change,” revealed that only 7% of women attempted to negotiate their first salary. The same study found that in the same scenario 57% of men did. Of the people who did muster up the courage to ask for a second salary, they saw a 7% increase in their paychecks. Surveys in the years that have followed have focused not only on gender disparity in our paychecks but how race affects salary as well. Time and again, studies reveal that women of color are not only more likely to earn less than their white male counterparts (Latinas on average earn only 53 cents to the dollar that white, non-Hispanic men make) they’re also less likely to ask for a raise that could help them close gender wage gaps in their office.
There’s no denying that the ongoing wage disparity stems from a culture of encouraging young girls and women to be “calladitas” that Business Insider says can cost us roughly one million dollars over the course of our lives. Fortunately, Latinas are looking internally and figuring out how to hack away at the problem, which doesn’t just come as a result of poor salary negotiation tactics— sexism in the hiring process, a lack of Latinas in high-power positions, and requirements for maternity leave are just a few aspects playing a role in the exacerbation of wage inequality.
Still, despite the various factors that lead to the giant gulf in the salaries men and women earn, negotiating a proper salary is where we can exert most of our power and continue the fight to close the pay disparity.
For a better understanding of how Latinas are working to close the gap, FIERCE asked 7 Latinas how they negotiate their salaries.
“Negotiating salary can be very nerve-racking because there’s that sense of ‘what if I ask for too much and they don’t hire me,’ or ‘what if they think I’m greedy’ or, even worse, ‘what if they don’t think I’m worth this amount.’ Those are all thoughts that prevent us from asking for the salary we deserve. Granted, we have to take into account experience, the company, and other factors. I always try to ask someone in the same industry, at a similarly sized organization, what they make and if the salary offered is in line with what I should be making. That gives you a good idea of what you should be asking for. Always give a salary range that starts at the very least you’d be ok making and goes to $10k more than that amount. An editor friend once told me to also always ask for the most amount you can say out loud without laughing or getting nervous, but that can backfire if you’re an anxious person. Whatever the company offers, always always ALWAYS ask for $5k more, even if they hit the max amount you would have wanted. The worst they can say is ‘no’, and you’d still be happy with what you get. If they’re making an offer and discussing salary, there’s no danger of them rescinding an offer because of what you asked for. Also, once you start, if you find out someone in your similar position is making more than you, that’s worth bringing up. Many organizations struggle with pay parity so if you find this is happening, it’s completely valid to call it out and expect to be paid as much as someone in your position (again, consider experience and other factors here as well).”
– Alex, Senior Culture Editor, 34 New York City
My mom never really had a long discussion with me about negotiating salary, but she did influence me in other ways. During my college years, I worked at a restaurant every summer when I returned home for break. I had a great relationship with management and they really valued me as an employee, so they expanded my responsibilities to include catering runs. I was so excited for the more “prestigious” position that I didn’t think twice about asking for a raise along with my additional duties. My mom knew my worth at the restaurant and told me she thought I should ask for a small hourly raise as well. When I brought it up to my manager, she immediately agreed, no questions asked! It taught me a valuable lesson about the most important tool in salary negotiation: asking. You won’t know until you ask. And I would’ve never have thought to ask if my mom hadn’t told me to.
– Andrea, Freelance Writer, 25 Los Angeles
“My parents never really talked to me about negotiating salary, it wasn’t something that I really knew about until I started talking to my friends and they were the ones that told me that I shouldn’t settle for whatever salary companies are offering me. The guidance that I received was mainly from older friends, and they made me realize that companies have budgets for new hires, and they, therefore, have a little wiggle room for negotiation purposes. I learned the importance of selling yourself, of knowing your worth, and of not being afraid to hear the word “no”. At the end of the day, the worst thing that can happen is them counter another salary back, and the best thing that could happen is ending up with the salary that I wanted to begin with. I was always under the impression that the salary I was offered was what I deserved, but I learned that wasn’t necessarily true. Don’t sell yourself short. My policy is to always let them pitch first. That gives me a basic idea as to where they start off at and how much more I can ask for. I also always try to overpitch, something that is a little too much but not completely impossible, and I know that I’ll be comfortable at a middle ground between their initial offer and mine.”
– Jess, Content Creator, 26 Los Angeles
“I learned about salary negotiation when I overheard a few men in my office discussing it when I was an associate at my first firm. I grew up in a household where I was constantly being told to be grateful for everything that came my way. and I was, and I never asked for more than was offered to me because I wanted to be grateful. So I was baffled when I learned that not only did the men in my first office have the gall to ask for more than they’d been offered but that they were getting paid more than I was. Did I ask for salary parity right then and there? Not at all. I was young and I wasn’t confident enough. It took leaving my job and interviewing with another firm to feel comfortable asking for more and I still didn’t ask for enough. Now I’m older and I feel much more comfortable asking for more, for what I deserve. I always ask for 20% more than my current salary and I never settle for the initial offer. I think it’s always important to keep in mind that companies are always going to lowball because they know you’re going to ask for more. You just have to. If you’re good enough to get an offer, you’re good enough to ask for more.”
-Amelia, Lawyer, 49, Chicago
“I grew up in a house where there were a lot of first generation professionals and with women who were always telling me to never settle. I never spoke too much to my dad about salary negotiations but that was because he always deferred to my mom. He’d always say ‘you know your mom and your tía know how to do this better.’ And they do. I think it took some time for them to realize their worth in their careers, but my mom always told me this wild story of how she learned that she wasn’t getting paid enough when she saw my dad’s paycheck come in the mail. They worked as coworkers at the same hospital, same job titles. My dad asked my mom to open up his check and take to the bank and low and behold she found out she was getting paid 20K less than him. I learned from that experience, from my mom and my tía as a lesson on never settling with even my paychecks, even if it was a dream job. So I always ask for what I know I’m worth and a little more, because don’t we always sometimes underestimate our worth? Generally, I ask for at least 5K automatically more than an initial offer.”
-Alex, Editor, 27, Los Angeles
“I jumped right into my career during the last semester of my senior year in college. I was fortunate enough to intern and work for women run companies and through those experiences, I learned about knowing my worth at an early age. Seeing women of color run these large companies helped me to understand that I, too, can take up space in this industry that I earned and deserved. Today there are so many books, platforms, and podcasts that have helped me to get where I am and negotiate my salary confidently. I use resources like Glassdoor and LinkedIn Premium (pay the price it’s worth it) to see what others in my industry and geographic location are making. I always aim for a little higher than the average. The key thing to remember is that the least an employer can say is no. Always negotiate to your advantage.”
-Victoria, Social Media Manager, 25, Los Angeles
“Salary negotiations make me so uncomfortable. When you grow up low-income, you’re told to just accept what’s being offered to you, no arguments. The women I’ve met in this industry taught me otherwise. They told me that the news business will always try to low-ball me and it’s crucial for me to know my worth and demand that I be paid accordingly. For that, when negotiating, I often remind the prospective employer of my degrees —- I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science and a master’s degree in Latino media studies, making me an expert expert in Latino political and cultural journalism — as well as my years of experience and diverse multimedia skill set and, most importantly, I feel, the respect I have in our community and relationships I’ve built. I know that there is no other [person like me] in Latino news media, and it’s up to me to make them see that if we are going to reach an appropriate salary and benefits package.”
-Raquel, Journalist, 27, Orlando
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