Ahhh, money, money, money. It seems as if the world revolves around this small, yet oh so meaningful, piece of paper. If you haven’t realized by now, wherever you find yourself in life right now, you have to possess enough of it to get by (but most of us want slightly more than enough because “getting by” is so old millennium). As we discuss what Making Your Way Up looks like, especially within a professional context, we would be remiss to not touch on the issue of finances. Because love it or hate it, cash is still king. Far too many women of color, especially women of the African diaspora, are navigating a professional space with inadequate preparation when it comes to topics of a financial nature. Add onto that the gender pay gap* and you wonder when their income will ever be truly reflective of their talent, skill, and effort.
Here’s a profile of two different women of the African diaspora and their journey navigating life as professionals.
|Industry||Health Care||Marketing Communication|
|Role||Clinical Technician||Communications and Business Development Manager|
|Experience||10 months||6 years|
|Salary Range||More than minimum wage**||$50-$70k|
|Have you ever negotiated your salary?||Yes…it did not end well||Yes…it never went as planned|
|How many raises have you received since you started working full time?||None…but it’s looking promising||3|
There are many others who can relate to the above…especially in the area of salary negotiation. As for these ladies, though they both had the confidence and courage to ask for what was necessary for them to do their job, they both have similar endings.
One even says, “having grown up in an African home, it’s a very taboo subject and I feel like I still have a hard time talking about money.”
While you’re a student, or before you start working in a professional capacity, you may excitedly look forward to getting your first “big” job. “My first employment was exciting because I didn’t think I would get employed anywhere, especially without experience. I was there for almost 4 years during my undergrad. Of course, I wanted a better job after roughly 2 years with the company, but I realized I had stable shifts that worked well with my school schedule, which was what I preferred at the time since I was already academically drained.”
You’ll quickly learn, when you’re at a company there may be some things you want to prioritize, and if they don’t offer that…that company may not be for you anymore. Though her job was allowing her to have stable shifts that matched her academic schedule, once she finished school she quickly left that job because in all her time there she only received a $1 raise.
Her priority had shifted from shift guarantee to higher, consistent income guarantee.
Nothing prepares you enough for the reality of everything costing money no matter where you turn. Whether you’re looking to treat yourself or to literally take care of yourself, staying alive in this current society takes dollar dollar bills yo (or whatever currency your government operates in). “The most shocking thing is that employers don’t understand the economy that we live in… EVERYTHING COSTS MONEY ABEG.”
“The most shocking thing is that employers don’t understand the economy that we live in… EVERYTHING COSTS MONEY ABEG.”
So we literally cannot afford to not be paid well, to not negotiate our salaries, or to continue to be crushed by the gender pay gap. Everyone’s journey is different but there are often too many overlaps when it comes to the discrimination women of color experience financially. One of the best ways to combat that is through education. Learn from the mistakes of those who came before you, learn from your past mistakes, and let your curiosity lead you to dive deeper into different financial topics.
Thankfully, we live in a day and age where information is so accessible, tap into it. But be wary, when it comes to certain financial information, one lady interviewed says, “never trust the internet though, it’s one trifling heifer.”
*The gender pay gap, or gender wage gap, is the average difference between the remuneration for men and women who are working
Josie Fomé is a multimedia Journalist with a keen interest on issues related to the African Continent and the African diaspora. She has international experience in community facilitation, radio show production and documentary film making. She has a passion for reshaping and creating new narratives surrounding the African continent and the African diaspora through story telling in all its forms.