Fierce

Equal Pay 101: 6 Latinas Reveal Their Most Effective Salary Negotiation Tips

Salary negotiation can be intimidating. But as Latinas, we must fight for what we’re worth.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, “Latinas are typically paid just 57 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.” Essentially, this pay gap amounts to a loss of $1,156,440 over a 40-year-career. And percentages worsened during the pandemic.

The National Committee on Pay Equity stated, “This date (March 15, 2022) symbolizes how far into the year women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year.” 

However, October 21 is known explicitly as Latina Equal Pay Day because “it takes the average Latina woman, working full-time year-round, ten extra months to earn what the average white non-Hispanic man earns in one year.”

To help create change, we asked six Latinas to share their best negotiation tips and success stories to aid FIERCE readers in recognizing their worth and get what they deserve in their next venture. 

1. I went in with a backup offer before getting a 30% raise.

Early on in my career, I was hired as an event manager at a startup. Within six months of being there, I took on a lot of extra responsibilities. Nine months later, I decided it was time to ask for a pay raise. This was around 2004, and I wasn’t sure how to do so. 

I decided to go in with a performance review report from online sources and told my manager I was waiting on a job offer from another company, which was true. I wasn’t necessarily excited about the other company, but I needed to have a backup plan if I didn’t get what I wanted. 

I was advocating for a 30% pay increase, and I was nervous. So I outlined my case in a way where I described the value I had brought to the organization, identified cost savings, driven revenue growth, and even my opportunities for improvement as I wanted to be a CMO one day. 

I notified them that I was waiting for an offer from another company and that I would prefer to stay here but could not at the current compensation level. It worked. I got a 30% raise that day, and my manager acknowledged and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. It was not his intent to underpay me; it just wasn’t top of mind for him.

— As told to mitú by Martha Aviles, VP of Marketing for Talroo.com.

2. People will intentionally undervalue [us] and try to take advantage of [us].

One of the most challenging experiences I had negotiating [my] salary was negotiating a job offer from a mentor who had helped me grow my career. He was building a new company and wanted me to join his team.

We had multiple discussions about the role and its duties. I used this information to research what the market was paying in Los Angeles, CA, for similar positions. After he made his initial job offer, I presented him with a counteroffer with market data and a list of achievements relevant to the position’s duties. He (a white man who had mentored me) laughed in my face and said he wouldn’t pay me half of what I was asking for.

I knew he was trying to take advantage of me at that moment. I was hurt, angry, and frustrated, knowing he wouldn’t have responded in the same way if I had looked like him. But, being diplomatic, I told him I would need time to get back to him.

I then responded to another company that had been trying to recruit me. The job duties were very similar, but I was unfamiliar with the team (thus, initially uninterested). I spent time getting to know the team, and they made an offer. The counteroffer I made to the company was received as logical and fair. [They accepted] and I got twice what I had asked my mentor for. Having presented almost identical information to someone who laughed in my face taught me that people will intentionally undervalue me and try to take advantage of me. 

My advice to any Latina negotiating her salary is to be aware of the statistics and the direct and implicit biases, but do not let them hinder you from negotiating for your value. Use market research and personal performance data to support what you’re asking for. Practice negotiating to ensure you negotiate from logic/data rather than emotion.

— As told to mitú by Adriana Herrera, Founder, PayDestiny

3. Instead of providing a number when asked what your salary expectations are, ask them for their budget range for the position.

I checked Glassdoor for information to help inform what salary I should request for my former role. During my interview process, I was asked about my salary expectations, and I provided my number. I later received a call, and they gave me a slightly lower number. 

The number they had offered wasn’t too far from mine (we ended up meeting halfway), but if they hadn’t budged, I still would have accepted the role with the expectation of a clear path on what would be needed to get a bump in pay. Instead, after reiterating my original number, I was offered a salary in between, which I accepted. 

I was extremely nervous. A lot of that came from imposter syndrome. I felt like I should be thankful for any number I got, that I should be lucky to be there. But in the end, you know your worth, and you should be paid accordingly.

Instead of providing a number when asked what your salary expectations are, ask them what their budget range is for the position. There are a number of online sources that help with the salary negotiation discussion as well, such as Her First $100k. I was fortunate to have a great and trusted colleague tell me her pay, so I understood an estimate of what to ask when I negotiated.

— As told to mitú by Melissa Chavez, Senior Content Strategy Manager

4. I talked about everything I had done and what I could do, but I clarified I would only do it for fair value.

I’m a lawyer, and I have worked in the sports market and new business in the last few years. Generally, these areas are dominated by men, and women have few opportunities. Still, there is the idea that a Latino person will always have a lower salary. 

At first, with little experience, I received what I was offered, and I lost some commissions because, at the last minute, they were paid to other people who hadn’t even done the work.

EVERYTHING CHANGED when I realized that I would never receive equal pay if I didn’t set my fees and value my skills.

On one occasion, working for a European technology company, they offered me less than they paid the other directors, even though I did a better job. I then spoke directly to the CEO and presented him with my resume and numbers. I talked about everything I had done and what I could do, but I clarified that I would only do it for fair value.

He then asked for some time to think, but thanked me for expressing my opinion. This may seem like a risk for some people, but I’d instead take the risk than keep working at half the price. Days later, I got the raise and completed the project fruitfully. 

Negotiating requires confidence and attitude. The best way to negotiate your salary is to trust your skills. As a Latina woman, I have always had proposals for below-average wages for positions that paid more. However, I am qualified, and I deliver the best to the company, so I don’t accept less. I always negotiate before starting work, and then I can renegotiate when I have already shown some results. I learned from this that we women need to clarify what we want [because] we can do anything and do it as well as anyone else. If we don’t have confidence in our potential, no one else will.

Today, I work with finances for a European company, with European colleagues, and we can be paid equally. I like to say that life gives you what you think you deserve, and we deserve the best.

— As told to mitú by Thaina Geniselli, Country Manager, Financier.com

5. Remember: tell, don’t ask. They want you — you’re more in the door than out.

Things I wish I knew about negotiating then that I know now are:

  • Negotiating your pay upfront is essential. It’s harder to do this already in the role, especially if you’re in an industry that’s slow to promote. So, always aim higher than the actual target and ensure the number you’re accepting justifies the work for 2+ years. Promotions tend to be revisited after two years. I recommend Glassdoor for research on the company. 
  • Merit increases aren’t always promised, so keep that in mind when negotiating. If a company doesn’t meet its threshold, no one gets that increase. 
  • Bonuses are not guaranteed and tend only to be offered to manager-level roles. Many recruiters will say things like, “The bonus gets you right on par with your target,” but it doesn’t. Bonuses are taxed anywhere from 25% to 40%. If the company decides that cuts are necessary for the company’s overall financial health, bonuses are usually the first area to get cut before headcount. 
  • Most established companies that have been around for more than 10+ years do not offer unlimited PTO. Negotiate your days up front! Many people don’t realize that Paid Time Off is a valuable asset. When negotiating, change that up, say something like, “I need to increase my approved PTO from 15 days to 20 days.” Remember, tell, don’t ask. They want you; you’re more in the door than out.
  • The one thing that could be negotiated if available is equity. Equity isn’t guaranteed until a company goes public. Still, if and when the company goes public, it’s basically money given to you for your time vested in the company, and it really could be something big. Think about all the startups that are huge now. Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook.
  • Lastly, always ask about perks. There are other benefits to the job. HSA, FSA, 401k & mental health resources (I.e., some companies offer free therapy or even offer a stipend). Not all companies offer or even match 401k. Be sure to ask these questions. 

— As told to mitú by Veronica Diaz, Founder, Illicit Curls

6. You can’t be afraid to ask for a raise, especially if you have remained loyal to the company and have numbers to back up the results of your work.

Timing is key. Choosing the right time to discuss a raise is essential. Many employers conduct a quarter review, and at the end of the fiscal year, they also do a budget review. This is when they expect to talk with employees about possible raises. Get all your previous performance results ready to present at this review meeting. If your employer does not schedule this meeting regularly, you can ask to schedule one.

Give thought to your accomplishments. Employers want to know why you deserve a raise. Think of all the projects and accomplishments you have done during the year. Ideally, ask for a review after completing significant projects and impressive achievements. Be ready to show how your results have contributed to the company’s growth or success. Make a clear statement on the value you personally bring to the company.

— As told to mitú by Liz Hogan, Digital Partnerships Manager, Find My Profession.

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