Women Issues

13 tips to get the salary of your dreams, according to some of the world's most successful women

It's 2018, and more celebrities are speaking out against the gender pay gap— and not just in Hollywood.

On average, women make about 80 cents for every dollar that men make, according to an April 2017 National Partnership For Women & Families report — and it's even worse for women of color. The same report noted that black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar paid to non-Hispanic white men.

Famous women including Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Schumer, and Michelle Obama have opened up in various interviews and on social media about how they took chances, negotiated higher salaries, and teamed up with coworkers to demand fair and equal pay.

Here's their advice that'll help you get paid what you deserve.

1. Know your worth

Meryl Streep snagged an Oscar nomination for playing an intimidating, powerful fashion magazine editor based on Vogue's Anna Wintour in "The Devil Wears Prada." But she almost walked away from the role entirely because she wasn't happy with what they initially wanted to pay her.

"The offer was to my mind slightly, if not insulting, not perhaps reflective of my actual value to the project," Streep told Variety in June 2016. "There was my 'goodbye moment,' and then they doubled the offer. I was 55, and I had just learned, at a very late date, how to deal on my own behalf."

2. Aim high

Bozoma Saint John, chief brand officer for Uber, told CBS News that you should aim high when negotiating your salary.

"Give the number first," she said on CBS News in February 2018. "Make it high as hell because then you can't be low-balled … Do the work. Don't just call a number out of the sky. Know the range and then exceed the range because then you can negotiate down just a little bit."

3. Don't hesitate to negotiate even after-the-fact

Amy Schumer initially signed an $11 million deal with Netflix in 2017 for her comedy special, "The Leather Special," according to Variety. But when she learned that comedians Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle were each paid $20 million for their respective specials, she decided to ask for more money.

"I believe women deserve equal pay," Schumer wrote in an Instagram post in August 2017. "However I don't believe I deserve equal pay to Chris and Dave. They are legends and two of the greatest comics of all time. I would like to say that I have been selling out arenas these last couple years. Something a female comic has never done. That's a big deal to me, especially because I know I do my best every night on stage for the audience and they have a good time."

Some were quick to criticize Schumer for what they saw as asking to be paid the same amount as Rock and Chappelle.

But she clarified that wasn't the case.

"I didn't ask for the same as my friends," Schumer wrote on Instagram. "I did ask for more than the initial offer. I will continue to work my ass off and be the best performer I can be. The reports of me 'demanding' or 'insisting' on equal pay to them aren't true."

4. Ask for exactly what you want

Former First Lady Michelle Obama said she took her last job — before her husband entered the White House — because of her boss's reaction to her family situation. In a 2014 interview with Parade, Obama recalled the job interview that sealed the deal.

"I told my boss, 'This is what I have: two small kids. My husband is running for the US Senate. I will not work part-time. I need flexibility. I need a good salary. I need to be able to afford babysitting. And if you can do all that, and you're willing to be flexible with me because I will get the job done, I can work hard on a flexible schedule,'" she said.

Obama clearly articulated everything she wanted.

"And he said yes to everything," she said.

5. Don't give in to intimidation

Lilly Ledbetter, the activist and author who inspired the Fair Pay Act of 2009, filed an employment discrimination case against Goodyear Tire in 1998.

"I went over and interviewed with Goodyear in 1978, and I worked for Goodyear Tire Company for 19 years before I found out that the males were making 40 percent more than I was making for working the same job," Ledbetter told Self in January 2016.

Someone tipped off Ledbetter anonymously by leaving her a little torn sheet of paper listing her base pay and their base pay, she said.

"The first thing that popped into my mind when I saw it was how much I had lost on overtime," she said in the interview with Self. "I thought about my retirement and my 401(k) and my Social Security, because what you earn is what determines your retirement. I was just humiliated and embarrassed, to say the least, that a major corporation could do me that way."

The company told her when she was hired that she was forbidden to discuss her pay with others, Ledbetter said.

"So no one ever discussed their pay," she said. "I never knew. I had no idea how much someone else was making … After I got that tip, I filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the wheels went into motion with the company."

6. Negotiate as a team

Actress Octavia Spencer revealed in early 2018 that Jessica Chastain had helped her negotiate higher pay for an upcoming film they were both in.

"I told [Jessica] my story, and we talked numbers, and she was quiet, and she said she had no idea that that's what it was like for women of color," Spencer said at the Women Breaking Barriers Panel at Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, in January.

"I love that woman because she's walking the walk and she's actually talking the talk," Spencer said. "She said, 'Octavia we're gonna get you paid on this film. You and I are gonna be tied together. We're gonna be favored nations, and we're gonna make the same thing.' Fast forward to last week, we're making five times what we asked for. Now, I wanna go to what the men are making."

7. Use your privilege to empower others

Jessica Chastain spoke out about working with Spencer to negotiate raises on Twitter.

"She had been underpaid for so long," she wrote in January 2018. "When I discovered that, I realized that I could tie her deal to mine to bring up her quote. Men should start doing this with their female co-stars."

8. Remember gender is only part of the equation


Pramila Jayapal, a US Representative from Washington's 7th congressional district, has routinely spoken out about the importance of equal pay— particularly for women of color.

"Women earn between 54 and 80 cents for every dollar earned by men," she told Quartz in February 2018. "The gap is widest for black and brown women. I am co-sponsoring a bill called the Paycheck Fairness Act — which Republicans have shamefully rejected nine times — that creates stronger prohibitions against gender-based pay discrimination. It's simply outrageous that gender and racial bias are taking precedence over skill, experience, and knowledge."

9. Stop being polite

Issa Rae, creator and star of HBO show "Insecure," said she has attempted to negotiate her salary throughout her career.

"As a freelance videographer and editor, I constantly had to set my price points, which was hard in the beginning because I honestly didn't know my worth," she told The Root in October 2015.

Rae said that she was so eager for work that she would work for pretty much any price point.

"As I grew more confident in my work, I began to set my prices higher," she said. "Sometimes I'd get resistance and sometimes I wouldn't get the job at all. I'd often have to convince them that I was worth the money."

Something needs to change, she said, and that starts with how we talk about money.

"A lot of us were raised with the belief that it's not polite to talk about money," Rae said. "If we want to close the pay gap, it's time to stop being polite and start talking about equal pay."

10. Keep your standards high

Canadian model Linda Evangelista knows what she's worth.

"We have this expression, Christy [Turlington] and I," she told Vogue in October 1990. "We don't wake up for less than $10,000 a day."

For a model worth about $25 million, we'd say that sounds about right.

11. Be a leader, not a victim