The fact that Megyn Kelly tried to normalize blackface, ruse her much younger peers or the enormous potential $69 million payoff for what at most jobs would be considered poor performance and gross misconduct is extremely disturbing.

Many are highly disappointed at NBC but probably aren’t surprised. This is the same news network, that allowed a known racially insensitive anchor who had explicitly expressed racist comments throughout her career at Fox News without regard or care join their network. The same network that allowed the sexual misconduct of one of their lead male anchors against several of their employees because Matt Lauer brought in ratings. NBC has left their viewers wondering what they were thinking to believe that Kelly could become a beacon of light during the Today show's third news hour.  How could these multi-million dollar a year earning executives actually believe they could transition someone who had spent 13 years at Fox News spewing out hateful comments, venom and race batting smoothly over from Fox News to NBC and expect her to rationally and fairly address a broad diverse audience and not have what transpired on Tuesday, October 23 happen?  This is a woman that left her previous network even though for years they allowed to call African-Americans “thugs”, tell the world that Santa and Jesus were white and referred to Michelle Obama as "Obama's baby mama" instead of President Barack Obama's wife, or even the First Lady.

Let’s tackle normalizing blackface first.

Kelly’s position was that it was okay to wear blackface as long as it was just for Halloween and in the spirit of fun or dressing up as a black person for Halloween . She tried to normalize her historically insensitive and ignorant remarks by throwing in that Blacks could dress up in white face. Who does that besides the Wayans brothers?  

Second, she tried to diminish her peers. Jenna Bush Hager, Jacob Soboroff, and Melissa Rivers when they powerfully and unanimously disagreed with her she tried to persuade them to her side by telling them that when she was a kid it was okay to wear blackface as long as you were dressed up as a character.  Perhaps Kelly who is 47 forgot that Melissa Rivers is 50 years old as is Don Lemon from CNN that weighed in as well to state that there was never a time when they grew up that wearing blackface, including, Halloween was appropriate.

Third, this goes beyond the blackface comments. Prior to Kelly coming on board, Tamron Hall was in that same Today Show time slot with both NBC and MSNBC. Hall was the first African American woman to host the Today show on a regular basis. According to Daily Mail as well several other credible sources, Al Roker and Tamron Hall were comfortably in first place as far as ratings. Kelly was brought into the same position as Hall at NBC earning 20 times what Hall was earning and was paid double the salary of Hall and Roker combined according to the Business Insider despite the fact that she not only had less experience but was an unknown commodity and talent for the network.  

For well over a year Kelly’s ratings have decreased by double digits from when Hall was in the same time slot. It has been rumored for months that Kelly needed to go because she hadn’t captured the audience for mainly two reasons: the way Hall was told and decided to exit was deplorable for a 10 year veteran of the network that was working on the MSNBC network as well. Hall was often referred to as one of the hardest working personalities on the network. The fans of the show didn’t forget how unprofessionally NBC handled Hall once the announcement was made that Kelly was joining. In 2017, The National Association of Black Journalists accused NBC of whitewashing because Hall was their only Black daytime anchor on both NBC and MSNBC.

The veil was lifted on NBC in the broad daylight but for the majority of African American women, we are not immune to someone non-diverse, less qualified and less educated earning more and being given much more support and fanfare. It is a way of life and is clearly illustrated when we have only one African American woman that is the CEO of a Fortune 1000 organization (and yes folks we are in year 2018)  Lisa Wardell at Adtalem Global Education, according to Black Enterprise. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Black women are the most educated demographic in the United States earning 66 percent of bachelor’s degrees which the highest percentage being enrolled in college. However, education isn’t equating to leadership roles or increased opportunity in private sector jobs. Black women make up 8 percent of private sector jobs and are represented in less than 2 percent of leadership roles.  

Allegedly, Kelly is working to save her $23 million a year contract which totals $69 million dollars since being terminated. However, if she had to work under the same expectations as the rest of us her termination wouldn’t warrant a payout. A payout for horrible performance and making racially insensitive statements?  Knowing her history there should have been a morality clause in her contract to protect the network from a woman with a history of making racially charged and stereotypical statements. For NBC karma has come to bite them where it hurts.  

Ironically, there had been rumblings since Kelly joined the network because her ratings were dismal. Clearly, NBC was arranging to part ways with her but now they get to dust their shoulders off and pretend they are exiting her for the righteous and morally acceptable reason that she justified wearing blackface on national TV.  

Many of us will not have the opportunity to negotiate a multi-million dollar compensation package so with that in mind here are some clever considerations to negotiate a typical offer for career professionals.   

You must understand, the art of negotiating compensation packages.  Yes, compensation packages because all too often when negotiating an offer regardless of whether it is an internal or external offer, candidates focus too heavily actual annual salary. Meaning if there is no negotiation with the salary then the candidate is often left with not amending their offer in any way.

There are 3 buckets that we should think about in negotiating offers:

  1. Total Cash Compensation (TCC): base salary, long-term incentive plans (LTIPs), short-term incentive plans (STIPs or bonuses), profit sharing, stock options, pension plans, etc.
  2. Benefits: Paid time off, medical and dental plans, Employer Assistance Programs (EAP), company car, parking allowance, pet insurance, life insurance, childcare assistance, student loan assistance, tuition reimbursement or assistance, short and long-term disability
  3. Work Conveniences: work from home options, flexible work schedules, free meals, free grocery delivery

Now, some of these are easier to negotiate than others so here are the easiest items to negotiate in each of the 3 areas:

  1. Total Compensation: base salary, profit sharing (particularly for start-ups)
  2. Benefits: Paid time off, tuition assistance, parking allowance or discount and company car or allowance (if your position is one that requires frequent travel by car)
  3. Work Conveniences: work from home and/or flexible work schedules

Although, there is absolute concern that NBC welcomed a toxic talent, Megyn Kelly to their team, one of the most important points of this conversation that has not been considered in all of the media hysteria over the blackface comments is the inherent injustice that was allowed in the compensation disparity between a proven, #1 show ranked talent, (Tamron Hall ) and an unproven commodity to NBC. Again, many of us will never negotiate a multi-million dollar contract in our lifetimes however, we will need to negotiate offers throughout our career.

It is important that as women we are confident in our knowledge, skills and abilities (aka KSA’s) and utilize that confidence to ensure that our current and future financial standing is secured by not selling ourselves short and accept any offer at face value. Most organizations expect a bit of back and forth before an offer is finalized.  Many organizations view this type of conscious and informed negotiation as strategic and they will hold you in higher regards as a contributor in their organization. Everything is negotiable, the worst response you can get is “no” but get the response from asking the questions not from making an assumption that it will be “no” without ever posing the questions. Another point to remember is whatever you achieve through being a negotiator is better than the initial offer. So, celebrate the small as well as the big wins from negotiating.