The Worth Gap

Photo by  Obi Onyeador  on  Unsplash

by: Minda Harts, Founder, The Memo

Often as women of color, we don’t always have the benefit of being advanced and retained in the workforce like some of our counterparts. When you have checked all the boxes and still don’t get that corner office — it can really take a toll on your emotional well-being. Depending on how long you have been in a certain environment, you begin to question if you’re good enough or if there’s something wrong with you. Then to add insult to injury, another one of those annual reports comes out to remind us that women of color once again are at the end of the career totem pole in both wages and in executive roles.

I am no longer sure who those reports are for — because I sure don’t want to read about statistics that I live every day with no one held accountable to change them. And it doesn’t appear that leadership is reading them either.

So if they don’t value us, who will? We will! We will continue to put respect on our name and rewrite our own narratives!

Over the summer, I took a 10-day Civil Rights tour in the Deep South. It pained me to see that much of what freedom fighters were asking for then - equality and respect - is the same thing we are asking for so many decades later. Our elders fought so that you and I could be at whatever table we want--not serving the food, but calling the shots. We owe it to ourselves to always know our worth! The definition of worth is “equivalent in value to the sum or item specified.” And if our employers are not valuing us, then we have to strategically plot our way to the next table where they will see and value us.  

We can no longer defer the dreams of our desired title or salary due to these narratives that are embedded in so many industries. We can’t force a company to hire and advance us, but the one part of this equation we can control is how we view our worth.

So every time you have the opportunity to ask for more: Go for it.

Whenever you have the opportunity to dream bigger: Shoot for the stars. 

Whenever you are being mistreated: Advocate for yourself! 

The late Toni Morrison once said, “Freeing yourself is one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self is another.”  Your worth and value are a terrible thing to waste, so let’s reclaim our agency!