We need to have more unfiltered conversations about money

Graduation comes with a myriad of growing pains. I’m untangling myself from the institution I’ve spent four years at, trying to figure out my five-year plan, and begrudgingly making a LinkedIn profile.

However, nothing compares to the discomfort of negotiating my first full-time salary.

Despite having worked since I was 17, I’ve never had a conversation with employers about a higher salary. I’ve always felt lucky to be offered a job—and I would never risk a job being taken away because of compensation. 

Women have an exceptionally difficult time negotiating salaries and estimating their professional value. The hiring process is further complicated when viewed through an intersectional lens, when identity aspects like race and class make negotiating even more challenging.

Harvard Business Review has a guide for how women can successfully negotiate—offering advice from full preparation to boosting emotional intelligence.

Money has always been an uncomfortable subject. Growing up, I had no idea how much adults in my life were making or what a liveable salary would look like post-graduation.

There’s no sugar-coating how difficult it is to talk about money and finances, especially when you’ve been conditioned to never broach the subject.

I’m entering final rounds of interviews with shaky hands, trying to appear confident and charismatic without being overbearing. After sharing my anxiety with my friends and mentors, I’m starting to realize I’m not the only one struggling to talk about money.

I need more unfiltered conversations about finances—with my peers, parents, and everyone in between. I shouldn’t feel like I’m doing something wrong when I broach the topic of salary during an interview, especially because it’s such a pivotal deciding factor in accepting an offer.

The wage gap is still far from eliminated. The complexity of varying salaries based on positionality should be out in the open for us to both critique and understand.

To best advocate for ourselves, we need to dismantle the societal norm of money talk—especially for young women of colour—being unprofessional or tacky.

“Pay transparency is one of the tools in the toolkit for achieving more gender equity or racial equity in pay,” Sarah Kaplan, professor at the University of Toronto, told CBC. However, it must be coupled with “a focus on promoting equity-seeking groups to more senior positions within an organization” to close the wage gap.

Though it won’t solve everything, having open conversations about financial literacy will give young women the confidence to secure a position where they are truly valued and compensated fairly.

When it comes to salary negotiation, I’m lost—and I shouldn’t be. Myself, and the women around me, aren’t doing anything wrong by asking for what we deserve.

Alysha is a fourth-year English student and The Journal’s Senior Lifestyle Editor.

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