‘Negotiating While Black’

That lucrative job offer does not always fall into one’s lap without effort paving the way.  

It takes intentionality, grit and, many times, irreplaceable soft skills that go a long way in the developing the art of negotiation.  

Whether negotiating a new salary, job duties, buying or selling or attempting to reduce the price of a new car, knowing how to maneuver to get the best bang for one’s buck is worth the formal haggling process.  

Proper negotiating also can mean the difference between earning a living and scraping by for some pockets of people disadvantaged right out of the gate.  

Data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation (2014) shows that Black households have fewer than seven cents on the dollar compared to White households. The White household living near the poverty line typically has about $18,000 in wealth, while Black households in similar economic situations typically have a median wealth near zero, meaning that many Black families have a negative net worth.  

On the other side of the financial coin, Black households make up less than 2 percent of those in the top one percent of the nation’s wealth distribution. Meanwhile, White households make up more than 96 percent of the wealthiest Americans and are among the nation’s wealthiest households.  

Also, even if one is adept at negotiating, the skill could be put to the test in surprising, sometimes detrimental ways.

According to a report, Bargaining While Black: The Role of Race in Salary Negotiations, the negotiation waters are a bit muddied when race enters the picture, which is a topic not often explored. The report notes that in three studies it was discovered that Black job seekers (when bargaining with someone who tends to be more racially biased) are seemingly punished with lower compensation outcomes since they are unfairly thought to negotiate less than their White counterparts.  

“We predicted that Black negotiators who behave in counter-stereotypical ways encounter greater resistance and more unfavorable outcomes from more biased evaluators,” according to the report, which adds that when Black negotiators “violate those expectations” they receive lower compensation. “Collectively, our findings demonstrate that racially biased perceptual distortions can be used to justify the provision of smaller monetary awards for Black job seekers in negotiations.”  

Despite some monumental stepping stones making negotiating seemingly impossible for some Black job seekers facing biases, it can be done.  

Forbes reported that in order to negotiate to get what you want, it’s time to think about what you need and press forward regardless of who is on the other side of the table.  

International investment leader and entrepreneur Codie Sanchez noted that investing is about asking for what you want all the time.  

“You will hands down never get what you don’t ask for,” she said. “When you remove the fear from your ask, you are more thoughtful, you consider how to make it a win-win and you become less emotional.”     

Solopreneur, business coach and wealth-building guru Pamela Owens agrees. She told the Michigan Chronicle that negotiating is more than a notion—and for Owens, who has etched out a lucrative path for herself, said it’s about standing one’s ground.  

“Whether you are going for a salary or what you are negotiating for …know what your boundaries are,” she said, adding that in her professional life clients and customers have told her that her fees are too much. Her response was, get somebody else to do it. “I’ve had people say I can’t afford that…. I came to the realization that not everyone can afford me and that is fine [be cause] I’d still be doing the same amount of work but for less money.”  

From standing your ground and knowing your worth to even staying silent—the details within negotiation is all about not playing games, Owens said, adding that, however, nothing’s wrong with playing chess.  

“When you’re in the negotiations position and both of you on either side have stated their cause the next person who speaks loses,” she said.  

The trick to maintaining one’s cool?  

Don’t get nervous, let the other person speak first and even if the negotiation deal falls through, walk away knowing that rejection doesn’t define someone.  

“Not only know your worth but your value,” Hilliard said.


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