It is well known that women are often underpaid. Doesn’t matter who the woman is. Inequality affects us all. Even Oprah Winfrey! At the Hollywood Reporter’s luncheon, she told of her experiences. When she was doing the news in Baltimore, she requested a raise just high enough so that she could make the same salary as her male co-anchor doing the exact same job as her. She was denied. A couple of years later, The Oprah Winfrey Show was nationally syndicated and she was given a well-earned raise. However, the other women producers on her team did not receive an increase. At that moment, Oprah stood up for them and requested a raise on their behalf. Yet, her male boss was surprised by the request and stated, “They’re only girls. What do they need more money for?”
Oprah wasn’t accepting of that and she took a stand. She let him know that if the women on her team didn’t get raises, then she wouldn’t work. As a result, they got their raises. Oprah has learned a lot over the years when it comes to getting paid her worth, so there is no one better to take advice from on the subject. Check out these gems Oprah dropped in the rest of her speech at the luncheon that you could use when negotiating your raise.
Go forth alone and stand as ten thousand
Those encouraging words from Maya Angelou gave Oprah the courage needed to stand up for her team to get them the raise that they deserved. She might’ve been alone, but she stated that she felt the spirit of those that came before her. When negotiating your salary, it can be intimidating. This isn’t something you can call on your Mom and Dad to do for you. You’ve got to step up and do it for yourself. Know that you are never alone when taking a stand and going for what you deserve. You’re not just negotiating for yourself. You’re also negotiating for women coming after you that could be offered less than what they deserve and have to do negotiations of their own. Set the precedent.
Get what you want
When Gayle King, Oprah’s best friend, was negotiating her salary for her current position with CBS News she sought advice from Oprah. She told her, “Get what you want. Get exactly what you want because now’s the time.” A raise doesn’t have to be only monetary. A raise can be new perks, too. Whatever a raise is for you, go for it! Make a list of all of the things that you do in your role. Make sure you include tasks that are not included in your position’s job duties. Cross-reference that with other positions that do the same things, but are paid more. Take that information to your supervisors to show clearly why you deserve a raise. If you’re already doing the work of a better-paid position, you should get paid for it!
Make your next move
Telling Gayle to get what she wants wasn’t the only advice that Oprah gave. She went on to tell her, “…And if you don’t get what you want, then make the next right move.” If your employer isn’t willing to give you a raise then they must not get it. At that point, it’s time to move on. Start your search and seek new employment that will recognize your value and will be willing to pay you for it. Once you receive another job offer it may be a wake-up call for your current employer. The threat of your absence may cause them to re-evaluate their decision and offer you whatever it takes to get you to stay. Then, the ball is your court to decide if they recognized your worth too late.
Ultimately, you have to know your worth and add tax. Don’t settle with your current salary just because you’re living comfortably with it. You deserve to be paid for your skills and the value that you bring. Go forth and get it!