It’s no secret that equality in pay is a non-existent phenomenon in the United States of America. Though such a fact is known, the extent of the disparity in pay between black women and white men for the same labor is not often acknowledged. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day specifically acknowledges the number of additional days a black woman must work into the year 2018 to receive the same compensation that had already been earned by a white male as of December 31, 2017. This year its 218 additional days. The disparity is shameful, so shameful that action must be taken.

Rather than waiting for an employer to initiate a compensation correction campaign that makes black women whole, ask for fair compensation. When? Now. Approach the conversation step by step using the acronym A.S.K. as a strategic guide through the compensation conversation:

A - Articulate your desire to receive fair compensation for your demonstrated value. Be clear. Make your intention known. There is a saying that you must teach people how to treat you. Making your compensation standard known to your employer is the equivalent of teaching your employer how to treat you in the employment context. Draw from a confident place of belief that your current contribution exceeds your current compensation when considering every aspect of your benefit package.

S - Speak up about your qualifications, accomplishments, skills and experience. Call your employer’s attention to the specific contributions you have brought and currently bring to the organization. Develop a “performance pitch” that you can share within 60 seconds. It is a succinct itemization of your demonstrated value — the value you have already provided and continue to provide — in your place of employment. Give the majority of your attention to most recent accomplishments, but also include qualifications, experiences and skills developed in previous years if they play a foundational role in your current performance.

K- Kick down the door, figuratively. Present compelling, overarching reasons you deserve greater compensation and how it will ultimately benefit the organization. Hold nothing back! Don’t leave your boss to try to determine how your value impacts your organization. Lay it out for him or her.

Be persuasive and make no assumptions. Leave no opportunity for your value to be misinterpreted or understated. Besides, you are the best person to judge your impact on the organization simply because you know best what you give to the organization on a daily basis. Impact is incredibly important in every place of employment and this is your chance to highlight it in direct relation to your compensation. Be fearless. Don’t worry about whether your boss will agree. Don’t give in to negative thoughts or potential disappointment. Just state your truth.


There are a myriad of the reasons why black women are underpaid in the marketplace. Regardless of which reasons impact inequalities in your current circumstance, eliminate the possibility of receiving less than what you are worth simply because you didn’t request it. Make the A.S.K. and keep asking until we no longer have to observe Black Women’s Equal Pay Day.

Tonya N. Sloans, Esq., is a career maximization strategist and coach committed to helping women overcome underemployment through her work in PowerWoman Enterprise, LLC. To find out more about Tonya, go to www.iampowerwoman.com. Hear Tonya speak at https://youtu.be/cAz4va4p93Y.