When to pop the question...about money
We’ve heard the statistics about the gender-racial wealth gap. While Asian men and women earn 117 percent and 87 percent as white men, respectively, black men and Latino/Hispanic men earn 73 percent and 69 percent of white men’s earnings, respectively. Black women bring home 65 percent of white men’s earnings, and Latinas take home 58 percent of white men’s pay, a July 2016 Pew Research report found.
On the face of it, it’s pretty messed up that race and gender play such a role in our take home pay. But the gender-racial pay gap has real-life consequences. I was raised by a single mom. She did her best to take care of us both. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but most of the time we have what we needed. To me, closing the gender-racial pay gap not only means making sure that women equal pay for equal work, it also means that women can have the power to control their financial futures and have the resources they need to take care of their families.
I started thinking about all of this after seeing a tweet that gave me pause. The tweet, which has since gone viral, showed emails between Taylor Byrnes, who applied for a position at SkipTheDishes, and a representative at SkipTheDishes.
Byrnes sent an email to the company asking about compensation and benefits. The startup responded by canceling a follow-up meeting with Byrnes because her questions “reveal that [her] priorities are not in sync with those of SkipTheDishes.” According to a follow-up tweet from Taylor, she had already done an interview with the company prior to inquiring about compensation.
There’s some debate about when to ask about compensation. A recent Forbes article about the incident gives some helpful guidelines for when to ask about money. In short, Amy Morin argues in her Forbes piece that applicants should ask for money before the first interview to assess whether applying is worth the company’s time and the job seeker’s time. Morin also points out that if it’s your dream job or you need more interview practice, going through with the interview is really worth your time.
TFB readers already know where I stand on knowing your worth, but I also laid out my thoughts on Twitter.
Side note: there are a lot of places that won't work with you because you ask about compensation. I've experienced it firsthand.— Tatiana Walk-Morris (@Tati_WM) March 14, 2017
For some companies it's hard to offer more $$, but if you're upfront about that with your employees/contractors, they may work with you.— Tatiana Walk-Morris (@Tati_WM) March 14, 2017
I totally get that, because I'm technically a business owner & therefore have to watch my money. But hiring good talent costs money&benefits— Tatiana Walk-Morris (@Tati_WM) March 14, 2017
Once you determine that (after figuring out your expenses are), be prepared to walk away. Or ask for better benefits. Don't lowball yourself— Tatiana Walk-Morris (@Tati_WM) March 14, 2017
Employers could help alleviate any ambiguity by posting a range of salaries or rates within the job description or adding that the salary is commensurate with experience. That way seekers can know what they’re dealing with before the interview.
As a freelancer, I am a business owner, so I understand how unpredictable cash flow can put stress on entrepreneurs looking to make payroll. But at the end of the day, applicants need to make sure they’re able to make a living.
For freelancers, my advice is to not only to determine your pay rate for particular stories but to also get that rate in confirmed in a contract. The last thing you want is to turn in a completed project and get less than what you were promised—or nothing at all. I would ask about compensation after you nail down the project specifics (i.e. your deadline, word count, the number of interviews) but before you actually start anything.
I sympathize with Byrnes’ situation because I’ve had potential clients turn me down after I asked about money. I don’t regret asking for proper compensation, because I don’t want to be underpaid for good work, nor do I want to crank out a lot of content for a bit of money. It’s a delicate, yet necessary conversation. As a freelancer, you’re the boss. Don’t be afraid to advocate for what you want.
What are some of your negotiating techniques? Leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org