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
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In xoNecole's series Dope Abodes, we tour the living spaces of millennial women, where they dwell, how they live, and the things they choose to adorn and share their spaces with.
Annisa LiMara has called this space her home for two years. Her Atlanta sanctuary, which she aimed to give the look and feel of something you'd see in the glossy pages of Architectural Digest, embodies her vision of "stunning, yet functional and cozy."
"My home is a reflection of my brand, The Creative Peach Studios, and I am the 'Creative Peach,'" Annisa explains. "It was so easy to reflect who I am and my personal story in my space. When you walk into my home, you know that it is Annisa’s home. I’m so proud of that. So grateful."
On the journey to becoming a homeowner, Annisa looks back on her experience as a "rough one," detailing that she officially started house hunting in March 2020. It had become so expensive to rent, and the 30-something lifestyle influencer decided she would rather invest the money she spent renting into owning a home. However, nine days into house hunting, her search was put on hold for a year. The following year, in 2021, the process of finding the right home and going under contract took a total of four months.
"The resell route didn’t work out, so my realtor suggested a new construction home, which turned out to be the better option," she tells xoNecole of her experience. "Although it requires more patience, it turned out to be a much easier process and a lot easier to maintain since it’s brand new."
As it turns out, the open floor plan three-bedroom two-and-half-bath would prove to be a blank canvas for Annisa to flex her creativity and design skills.
As a new construction, she watched the townhome get built from the ground up, and due to the "cookie-cutter" nature of new builds, Annisa knew immediately that she would change everything about it. The best part about it? All of her updates were cosmetic, so transformation could occur without having to do major renovations to achieve the look and feel she desired.
"The first things I updated were all the lighting, adding built-ins around my fireplace, and installing wallpaper in my bedroom, office, and dining room! I also had board and batten installed in the upstairs loft to make a statement and the kitchen island," Annisa details.
"Lastly, we painted the loft a soft blush pink, the kitchen island is a gorgeous terracotta, and added contrast with black on the doors, fireplace, and stairwell banisters."
In total, she spent $15K in renovations (plus the cost of furniture and decor). And although she says the second level of her home is a "work-in-progress," two years in, she considers the transformation nearly done.
Annisa defines her decor style as "organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho," and with thoughtfully placed touches like plants, warm tones, and organic textures, her perspective can be felt throughout. "I found my point of view as a designer in my work and as I worked on my home, so it all came together organically based on what I was naturally drawn to."
"The organic modern meets midcentury modern with a touch of boho' is definitely my signature style. You’ll always see greenery, warm tones, brass, and rattan or wicker in just about every room. My color story is based on my brand [The Creative Peach Studios] colors: blush pink, ivory, olive and sage green, terracotta, and nudes," she adds.
It was her brand colors that would be the jumping-off point for her approach to decorating and styling her space. That, and a picture she had of what would become her sofa from Albany Park. She recalled her decor decisions, "It was their olive Park Sectional Sofa, and I knew instantly I wanted it, and it aligned with my brand colors naturally, so it was a no-brainer."
By drawing inspiration from Pinterest, favorite design brands like CB2, Arhaus, and Souk Bohemian, and through her work, Annisa allowed herself to be guided by her signature style as well as her instincts when making decor and color choices for her own home. "Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason; it just feels right."
Some of the aspects of her home that she regards as her favorites include her bedroom and its little nook where her bed is positioned, the open upstairs loft, and the open concept because "it really allows you to see all of the details I put into the design all at once." Another of her favorite finds is a purchase she copped from the thrift store years ago.
"I have this little brown and gold chair that I picked up for $6 at a thrift store in Jersey six years ago. I couldn’t afford much in my little studio, but the chair was beautiful and unlike anything I had ever seen."
In addition to accent walls featuring blush pink and terracotta tones throughout the space, her gallery wall is another element that immediately draws the eye of any guest who enters. Annisa recalled a fond memory of a fine art piece she purchased from a Black woman artist when she first moved to Atlanta that she now prominently features in her living room. "It was a Black villager from her travels in Africa, and I fell in love with it because it felt like an ancestor I never met. I later found out that she was the sister of one of my very first design clients two years later," she shares. "Talk about a full-circle moment!"
Cultivating a space takes time and patience, and that is a sentiment Annisa echoes when advising people who are looking to infuse more of themselves into their own dope abodes through design. "It is not a race, and you’ll spend more money if you rush into designing without really being intentional about the vision for your space," Annisa concludes. "You just need creativity and patience to do it! And most of all, make sure you feel like it’s an oasis for you!"
For more of Annisa, follow her on Instagram @annisalimara.
Tour Interior Designer Annisa LiMara's Modern Meets Midcentury ATL Home | Dope Abodes
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Featured image by Kanobi Pollard/xoNecole
If you followed Beyoncé’s career, then you know how hair has played an important role in her journey. Her mom, Ms. Tina Knowles, owned a hair salon when the multi-Grammy award-winning artist was growing up, and she has shared on several occasions how it impacted her life. We’ve also witnessed her many hair transformations throughout her career, from braids to her signature long, straight honey blonde tresses. However, it was her pixie cut in 2013 that had everyone talking.
Beyoncé and Tina launched Cécred (pronounced sacred), a hair care line that includes a clarifying shampoo and scalp scrub, a hydrating shampoo, a nourishing hair oil, and much more. The mother-daughter duo opened up about their latest business venture together to Essence in its March/April issue, and the “Alien Superstar” revisited her haircut and how it reflected a life change.
“It did. That’s right. I love how we associate a certain hairstyle with moments in our lives, like that short-hair moment. I remember the day I decided to just cut all my hair off. I didn’t have a particular style in mind,” she explained.
“It wasn’t an aesthetic choice, but it was a very big emotional transformation and metamorphosis that I was going through. So much of my identity as a performer has been connected to flowing hair. Cutting my hair off was me rebelling against being this woman that society thinks I’m supposed to be.”
Beyonc\u00e9 to ESSENCE Magazine on her 2013 pixie cut:\n\n"I remember the day I decided to just cut all my hair off. I didn\u2019t have a particular style in mind. It wasn\u2019t an aesthetic choice, but it was a very big emotional transformation and metamorphosis that I was going through."\ud83d\ude2d\ud83e\udd79— (@)
She continued, “I was a new mother, and something about the liberation of becoming a mother made me want to just shed all of that. It was a physical representation of me shedding the expectations put upon me. I just wanted it off.
Neal Farinah, my hairstylist and friend, was freaking out because it was really long, really thick and really healthy. I just got the scissors and chopped it off. It was very intentional. And it was what I needed to do. And after that, I became super brave. It was the first step to many more audacious decisions I made in my life and my career that have led to who I am now.”
Throughout the interview, Beyoncé shared how her new hair line is her “legacy” and how she wants to use her line to highlight the versatility of textured hair.
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Feature image by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Recording Academy