Statistically speaking, black women are grossly underpaid. So much so, that an entire holiday (August 22) was created to bring awareness to the issue. That's right—despite having the same credentials, or better, an equal pay day for black and brown women needed to be organized so that they are paid equally and/or more than the current average of .63 cents on the dollar.
But even in this climate, it's important to understand the navigation of salary expectations and negotiations.
My curiosity got the best of me as I wondered how many women in my life have had experience in actually negotiating their salaries. And to my sheer disappointment, I discovered that most women are terrified to do so at all.
Recently, we met with a woman who took her life into her own hands by taking the power from her companies to get what she wanted. To set the scene, Carmen Garrett, a Clinical Data Manager, was working for a Fortune 500 company when she was offered another position elsewhere. Upon learning that she was resigning from her position, her company offered a promotion and bonuses to stay in her current role. When she told the new company she was no longer accepting the position due to her promotion, they topped her company's offer entirely, and threw in additional perks that she could not refuse.
Ultimately, Carmen accepted.
Tell us about your career journey.
I've always been interested in research, but wasn't exactly sure how to pursue it. I fell into clinical research in November 2009 after I graduated with my Master's Degree in Psychology and couldn't find a job. I thought therapists made a lot of money (from watching TV and movies) and said, well, I like helping people and I'd like to be successful as well. So, I went into clinical research focusing on Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder. But it was during that time that I realized I wasn't strong enough to take on everyone's psychosis. I discovered that I was an empath. With this, I became unhappy with work, financially, and romantically. Things had to change and they did, but not until after they got worse.
Tell us about the thought process of moving forward with your new job.
I was EXTREMELY stressed at work, to the point that I was clinically depressed for almost a year. I did the absolute bare minimum with my life, friends, and family. I wouldn't even answer my mother's phone calls because I was too exhausted to speak (a lot of wasted time that I would eventually regret). When things cooled down at work, I started to relax and come back to myself, only for my mother to pass two weeks later. At that moment, I began to regret staying so long and wasting a year of my life by not being myself or actively engaging with my mother, friends, and family. At the same time, I wasn't meeting my financial or career goals while waiting for a promised promotion that never came. So, it was simply time for me to move on.
What should women consider when seeking/interviewing for new positions, accepting job offers, or negotiating their salaries?
Before, I was always afraid to counter offer because I felt I didn't fit 100% of the job description. This absolutely does not matter. Can you do the job? That's what matters. It wasn't until I saw literally almost everyone incompetent around me get promoted that I said I need to sell myself just like my colleagues. I also learned to always ask for the salary range. Make them show you their hand and decide if it's something you want to move forward with. My go-to phrase is: "I'm not sure what the range is for this position. I'm seeing jobs offering $80K-$120K, so I'm not sure where you fall in this." I once had one company offer me $75K when they initially contacted me about $100K. I stood firm because it is a simple math game for me in my industry. I was willing to walk away from the offer because they did not negotiate with me at all even though I knew $100K was in the budget. Then a week later, I was contacted by my current company that met my asking offer and my previous company could not match. I knew my worth and went for it.
"Make them show you their hand and decide if it's something you want to move forward with. My go-to phrase is: 'I'm not sure what the range is for this position. I'm seeing jobs offering $80K-$120K, so I'm not sure where you fall in this.'"
What are common factors black women face in the workplace? How did you not let them affect you?
As an African American woman, I quickly realized I had to play a different game than my other colleagues. They were afforded the right to cry, become loud, rude, and overall unprofessional and it be chalked up to "having a bad day". The world would not stop for them. I am very aware that my presentation has to be different. The key is to do your job well so no one can question you, and when they do, be ready.
"The key is to do your job well so no one can question you, and when they do, be ready."
How would you personify the confidence needed in negotiating your salary?
It's funny because I interviewed with my current company a year ago and they immediately rejected me less than 24 hours after the interview. They reached out about three more times before I stopped to reconsider again. At that point, I knew their hand. My company is very large, so it was very unlikely that I would interview with the same team AND I knew exactly what I did wrong. In the year since first speaking with them, my experience level had increased which made me attractive to them, and I was aware of that. I asked my recruiter to submit me at the highest offer for this position because I was expecting to negotiate. The worst they can say is no and meet you somewhere in the middle. I completed the interview, asked some great questions, but was still very nervous the next day. I didn't get the immediate rejection email the next morning, but got a phone call that afternoon from my recruiter saying they agreed to my offer plus a sign-on bonus. We were both shocked, but ecstatic—which made me think I didn't ask for enough—but I still sold myself anyway [laughs]. It was an AMAZING feeling!
What was the driving force behind your decision to leave your current workplace?
At first I thought it was money, but I reached a point in my life where I realized that although I'm comfortable, I'm going nowhere fast. I needed specific experience to help increase my salary over time and I simply wasn't getting it. I moved on to a position that's extremely fast-paced, three levels above where I was, but it's what I needed. Everything can be overwhelming until you get the hang of it. But I had to go in fearlessly, so I did.
What advice would you have to young black girls negotiating their salaries?
HR expects you to negotiate. Again, they have ranges and will try to bring you in for the lowest amount possible. Understand that it takes a lot of time and hard work to hire someone, so if they want you, they will give you the number you want (or additional PTO or increase your bonus target or increase your 401K contribution). Remember, everyone is running a business, so do not take anything personally. If they cannot increase your starting salary, negotiate other things. Know your expectations and keep in mind what you will agree to. Be realistic, but ALWAYS negotiate.
If you would like tips or just overall support in how you can negotiate your salary, feel free to reach out to Carmen directly at email@example.com.
Featured image courtesy of Carmen Garrett
- 4 Women On How They Use Their Personal Brands To Diversify ... ›
- Top High-Paying Jobs Without Degree - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Mindset Shifts To Make To Earn Six Figures - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Unhappy At Work? Signs It's Time To Leave Your Job - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 5 High Paying Remote Jobs With Six Figure Salaries - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 4 Smart Steps To Negotiate Your Salary Job Offer - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Negotiate a Salary - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- High-Paying Jobs Not In Tech - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Black Women's Equal Pay Day: How We Can Empower Ourselves - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 6 Steps For Negotiating Your Salary ›
- What You Can Do to Become a Six-Figure Earner | blackwallet ›
- Job Hunting? Dos and Don'ts for Negotiating Salary | BU Today ... ›
- These occupations average six-figure salaries. Is yours one of them? ›
- Successful women share how they negotiated their first big raise ›
- Setting the Record Straight on Negotiating Your Salary ›
- The Best Six Figure Jobs (and How to Get Them) ›
- The Salary Story Of A 33-Year-Old Executive Assistant ›
- How to Negotiate Salary After a Job Offer | Robert Half ›
- Remote Jobs That Pay 100k Or Higher Salaries In 2018 ›
This was first evident more than a decade ago when she quit her job as the corporate executive of a Fortune 500 company during a Periscope livestream. “I’m not sure if there’s an alignment of [our] future trajectory. I’m going to work for myself. I'm promoting myself to work for myself,” she said at the time before flashing a smile at the viewing audience. As she resigned on camera, a constant stream of encouraging messages floated upwards on the screen.
By 2021, she’d fashioned her work as a corporate consultant and her personal life with her husband and three adopted daughters into a reality show, She’s The Boss, for USA Network. This year, she released the New York Times bestselling memoir Nothing Is Missing, written as she was in the process of getting a divorce and dealing with her eldest daughter’s struggles with substance use.
Convinced that there’s no way the 39-year-old has achieved all of this without intentional strategic planning, I asked her about it when we spoke less than a week before Christmas. I’d seen videos on social media of her working on 2024 planning for other brands, and I wanted to know what that looked like following her own year of success.
She listed a number of goals, including ensuring that the projects she takes on in the new year align with her identity “as a Black woman, as an African woman, as a mother, as someone who has lived a [rebuilding] season and is now trying to live boldly and entirely as themselves.” But, I was shocked by how much of her business planning also prioritized rest.
Despite the bestselling book, a self-titled podcast, and working with numerous corporations, Walters said she’s been taking Fridays off. This year, she doesn’t want to work on Mondays, either.
“A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement,” she said, noting that she’ll check in with herself around March to see how successful this plan has been. The goal, Walters said, is to only be working on Tuesdays and Thursdays by sometime in 2025. “It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to have happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change.”
"A lot of us think we work hard until retirement hits. I want to progress towards retirement... It is intentionally building out what I know I would like to happen and not waiting for exhaustion to be the trigger of change."
Walters said the decision to progressively work less was partially in response to her previously held notions about her career, especially as an entrepreneur. “When I first started, I thought burnout was a part of it,” she said. “What I didn’t realize is that even if you’re able to bounce out of burnout or get back to it, there’s a cumulative impact on your body. If you think of your body as a tree and every time you go through burnout, you are taking a hack out of your trunk, yes, that trunk will heal over, and the tree will continue to grow, but it doesn't mean that you don’t have a weakened stem.”
But, the desire for increased rest was also in response to the major shifts that occurred three years ago when she was experiencing major changes in her family and realized her metaphorical tree was “bending all the way over.”
“One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity,” she added. “That is some language that I think is just now starting to really get unpacked.” In recent years, there’s been an increased awareness of achieving balance in life, with Tricia Hersey’s “The Nap Ministry” gaining attention based on the idea that rest, especially for Black women, is a form of resistance. Even online phrases such as “soft life” and “quiet quitting” have hinted at a cultural shift in prioritizing leisure over professional ambition.
"One of the things we have to recognize, especially as Black women, is that there is this engrained, societal, systemic notion that our worth is built around our productivity."
If companies are lining up to consult with Walters about their brands and products, then women have been looking to her for guidance on starting over since she invited them to livestream her resignation 12 years ago. As viewers continue to demand more from content creators in the form of intimate, personal details, Walters has navigated her personal brand with a sense of transparency without oversharing the vulnerable details about her life, especially when it comes to her family.
The entrepreneur said she’d been approached to write a book for several years and was initially convinced she was finally ready to write one about business. “I started to do that, and then I went through my divorce. When that happened, I said, why would I write a book telling people to get the life that I have when I’m not sure about the life that I have,” she said.
Instead, she decided to write Nothing Is Missing and provide a closer look at her life, starting with being born to immigrant Ghanaian parents (“You need to know my childhood to know why I’m passionate about entrepreneurship.”) through the adoption of her three daughters and eventual divorce. Despite her desire to share, however, she said she felt protective of the privacy of her family, including her ex-husband.
When discussing this with me, Walters said she was reminded of a lesson she learned from actress Kerry Washington, who released her own memoir, Thicker Than Water, just a week before Walters’ book release. Washington’s memoir grapples with family secrets, too, specifically the fact that she was conceived using a sperm donor and didn’t learn about it until she was already a successful TV star. While Washington reflects on how the decision and subsequent deception impacted her, she’s also careful to hold space for her parents’ experiences, too. “A lot of things she said was that she had to recognize where she was the supporting character and where she was the main character,” Walter said.
This is something Walter worked to do in Nothing Is Missing when discussing her daughter’s struggles with addiction. “I was very intentional about making sure that I did not reveal more than what was required,” she said. “If I say something about someone’s addiction, I don’t need to go into the list of the substances they used, how they used them, what I found. [I don’t need to] walk into a room and paint a picture of what it looked like for people to understand.”
Walters said some of the most vulnerable moments in the book barely made a ripple once it was released. She was extremely nervous to write about getting an abortion, she said. But no one has asked her about this in the months since the book was released. Instead, people have been more interested in quirkier revelations, such as the fact that she once appeared on Wheel of Fortune.
“I have bared my soul about this thing I went through in my youth that has changed me for people, and people are like, ‘So how heavy was the wheel when you spun it?’” she said, chuckling. “It just goes to show that people never worry about the thing that you worry about.”
With the success of Nothing Is Missing, Walters said she still isn’t planning to release a business book at the moment. But, as she navigates parenting a teenager and two adult children while also navigating a relationship with her new fiancé, Walters said she believes she has at least one or two more books to write about her personal journey. “There is sort of an arc of where my life has gone that I know I’ve got something more to say about this that I think is important, relevant and necessary,” she said.
In just three years, Walters’ life has undergone a major transformation. There’s no telling what the next three years will have in store for her, but it seems likely she’ll retain an inspired audience wherever life takes her.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image courtesy
Developing a wellness routine is essential to your mental well-being. When we neglect ourselves, that neglect can bleed over into every aspect of our lives. As a wellness founder, for a minute, if I'm honest, I thought I had wellness down to a science. I assumed it would be easy for me to keep up with my routine because I fought so hard to get here. That falling off would be impossible for me until I did, and I realized that healing is, unfortunately, not at all as linear as I thought it would be.
Navigating through the pandemic took me through levels of depression and burnout that I never thought possible, and one day, I looked up and didn't recognize myself in more ways than one. My yoga mat that had once been at the foot of my bed for daily stretching was rolled away into a dark corner. The dust had formed on my gym bag and gua sha tools, and I hadn't seen my massage therapist in over five months. The wellness rituals that I held close became a stranger to me, and I found myself asking, "How did I get here, and more importantly, how do I get back to what feels like home to me?"
Many times I felt ashamed and embarrassed and couldn't put language to the fatigue that I couldn't shake. As a Black woman, especially one that has accomplished some level of success, there's the pressure that you put on yourself, and then there's the pressure from those around you to keep going, to work harder, to keep soaring. I never wanted to do the opposite, but I yearned for solitude.
It's such a strange feeling to be happier than you ever have in your career but simultaneously feel yourself slipping away.
Once I discovered that I had been experiencing cycles of burnout, I knew that I had to take action to pull myself out of the hole I found myself in. If you're struggling to grab hold of your wellness routine, it's still possible for you to apply these practices in order to get back to putting yourself first.
1. Be gentle with yourself.
Give yourself grace and gentleness as you form these good habits again. Ignore the urge to talk down to yourself and harp on what you can't change, as it will not only delay the process of you enjoying the routine again but because it isn't kind. Negative self-talk is the last thing you need; extend gentleness to the part of yourself that needs to step away and welcome her back into your life.
2. Slowly work your way back into your routine.
If you were a 5 a.m. gym girl, perhaps you should head back to the gym on the first day at 7 a.m. and, by the end of the week, work your way up to 5 a.m. Did you have a morning journaling practice for twenty minutes a day? Start back up, taking the pressure off with a five- to 10-minute session. Allowing yourself to start slow gives you a small victory on this journey.
3. Get clear on your goals.
As we change, so do our needs, especially as it relates to wellness and routines, and as a result of that, your routine might need to look different this time around. Sit with yourself and determine your wellness goals - mind, body, and spirit- and then create a game plan. From there, decide what habits you used to enjoy still hold to your needs now, and as time progresses, merge the needs of former you and who you are now together.
4. Create systems of sustainable rest.
Burnout and exhaustion are often so normalized for Black women, so we have to go out of our way to ensure that we are cared for. Often, as a society, we view rest as something that you do when you're tired or overwhelmed in order to refuel and get back to work, but we've had it all wrong, especially when it comes to Black women.
Our rest is crucial because our lives depend on it. Working until we can't go anymore is not the way. As Nap Bishop Tricia Hersley once said, "Rest is resistance." Your rest does not need to be reserved for summer vacation or PTO. Your rest can be a nap, moving and working slower, not feeling the urge to respond to messages and calls immediately, or moving at a slower pace.
Find your way back to yourself, sis. You got this, and I can't wait to see how your life has changed once you begin to prioritize yourself and your wellness again.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Eva-Katalin/Getty Images