Lynnette Khalfani-Cox

A Message for Black Women’s Equal Pay Day

For Black Womens Equal Pay Day: a lesson to my sisters in knowing your worth and a call to demand more:

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Back in 1994, a senior editor at Dow Jones News offered me a good salary, lows $40s, for a job as a financial journalist. I countered & asked for about $5K more. Then something unexpected happened.

Negotiations lingered for nearly a month. *Sigh*

Finally, an assistant editor called me & said: “We love your work. Why aren’t you here already? What’s the problem?”

Me: “The compensation isn’t where I’d like it to be, given my background, experience/skills & the value I bring”

At that point, I had a Master’s degree in journalism.

I had also already been a general assignment reporter at AP, the The Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as a writer/asst. producer at FOX 29 in Philly.

What the Dow Jones assistant news editor said next I will NEVER forget …

He said: “Then just ask (the Sr. Editor) for more AGAIN. We would think less of you if you didn’t.”

At first, I was taken aback by the frankness of his advice.

Then I was SUPER appreciative of his pure honesty. He was almost *daring* me to negotiate – plus telling me that NOT negotiating is perceived negatively.

I called the Sr. Editor back & repeated the salary I wanted, along with yet another explanation as to why I was worth EVERY PENNY.

Sr. Editor agreed, said “Yes” & asked when I wanted to start.

Ironically, or maybe not, same Sr. Editor (a white man) was best boss I ever had.

That Sr. Editor mentored me for a decade. He also gave me stellar reviews, promotions, bonuses, awards, stock options, etc.

But it all started because I had the courage to ask (again) for more.

Since then, no one has EVER had to urge me to negotiate.

It’s now in my DNA.

For what it’s worth, at Dow Jones, I later became a senior writer, bureau chief, personal finance editor & more.

By the time I left Dow Jones in 2003, I was a reporter for The Wall Street Journal working as an on-air correspondent for CNBC and earning a very nice 6-figure salary.

So ladies: know your worth & demand it!


Editor’s Note: Black Women’s Equal Pay Day was celebrated on Aug 7, 2018.


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