Equal Pay Day is today and more than ever there is a need to make our companies and colleagues aware of the pay gap that exists between men and women.
It takes women 15 months to make what men make in a year, but for black women, it will take 19 months until we make what men make in 12 months. That means black women are making 63 cents to every dollar men make. The discussion continues each year around how to close the wage gap, offering solutions to getting women equal pay with many starting in the workplace.
For many black women, the workplace has been a difficult environment to gain promotions, salary raises, and visibility, which leaves money and opportunities on the table untouched by not feeling comfortable enough to advocate for ourselves and to show our worth. "For black women who are at the bottom of the food chain in terms of equal pay, we cannot afford to be modest; we can't afford to hide in plain sight. We have to get out front with our branding because other people are able to earn more by doing the same work as us so we need to at least try to level the playing field by making more noise about what we are capable of, what we have already done, and therefore what we can do," personal branding coach Amanda Miller Littlejohn shared.
"For black women who are at the bottom of the food chain in terms of equal pay, we cannot afford to be modest."
Amanda believes black women can take more control over their pay by taking more ownership of their personal brand. "Lagging behind both white men and white women in terms of equal pay, black and brown women can't afford to keep quiet when it comes to sharing our achievements and selling ourselves. By keeping our heads down, and working hard but not telling our stories, we miss out on promotions, new job leads, and clients. This adds up to thousands of potential additional dollars in missed earning power over our lifetimes," she stated.
Amanda created The Branding Box in 2014 after working with private personal branding and public relations clients as both a publicist and personal branding advisor. She noticed that there was a distinct framework that she created for her individual clients and decided to package her most common recommendations into a relatively inexpensive product that could help others build their personal brand. She later created the Package Your Genius Academy, to create a community and peer to peer learning opportunity for her clients. "I owe so much to my personal brand and I'm so happy to be able to earn a living and help to support my family from those efforts," she said.
With social media's wide range of tools and access to people from all over the world, black women are creating opportunities to not only live the life they want, but to gain the opportunities to build their authority in their industry and start up the businesses that they once dreamed of owning. In order to find success, those women had to build their personal brand and understand it.
Amanda shared some of her insight with us on ways you can begin building your personal brand:
Turn Your Digital Savvy Into Income & Opportunities
"One's personal brand is their reputation and the idea that the wider world has about them, their capabilities, their values, and their expertise. In the digital age, this is also your in-person reputation but also what can be found about you online. Just like your reputation, your digital presence as it relates to your personal brand can attract new opportunities to you when you're not in the room. While Black women over-index in our use of digital tools and social media platforms like Twitter, we don't always leverage our digital savvy to create income opportunities and career advancement for ourselves. Black women can begin to create a personal brand online by sharing who they are and what they know about the wider world. I personally have used personal branding and digital tools to connect with people all over the world and make the case for my business and give credibility to my expertise. Black women are traditionally pigeonholed into roles of the supporters, helpers, builders; but it's time for us to step out of those support roles and claim the recognition that we deserve so that we can earn more."
Don't Be Afraid to Share Your Good News
"One of the things I see most of my clients is a discomfort with the spotlight - a reticence to be out front with their accomplishments and share how amazing and qualified they are. It may come across as modesty and humility, but can be really damaging through the lifecycle of your career. If your colleagues, your superiors, and your wider industry do not know what you are capable of because you have failed to "share your good news" so to speak on any platform, be that through speaking, through media, or online through your LinkedIn profile, it will become extremely difficult for you to remain top of mind for new opportunities. So while you may think that being modest is endearing and 'appropriate,' ultimately, it renders you invisible to the very opportunities you seek."
Be Strategic & Goal-Oriented
"Where most people go wrong is not being intentional about building a personal brand, and for those who have set out to build their personal brand, they are not being strategic in terms of thinking about the types of opportunities or clients they want to attract. As you set out to build your brand, you should have some goals in mind, whether they are immediate or more long-term and related to a 1, 5, or 10-year plan."
Always Promote Your Brand
"Don't keep your head down and do good work for your company without seeking visibility opportunities outside of your immediate department and company. The same thing goes for creatives and entrepreneurs who may be working with clients: don't focus solely on doing such a great job for your clients at the expense of your personal brand. When those client engagements are over or should you lose your full-time role or be laid off or displaced, you will have to start from scratch if you have not been steadily building awareness of your gifts, skills, and talents. So essentially, don't wait to build your brand until you need it: steadily keep getting the word out about what you're passionate about and what you do best."
For more Amanda Miller Littlejohn and her bomb branding insight, follow her on Instagram.