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Soaring Beyond Limits – How I Empower Black Women To Rise Above Being Overworked & Underpaid

Written by: Twanna Carter, PhD, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


As we strive to create a more inclusive and equitable society, it is vital that organizations cultivate an environment where every employee, particularly Black women, feel valued and appreciated. Far too often, I have witnessed a recurring issue affecting the lives of many talented Black women: the underpaid overperformer. These dedicated sisters consistently excel in their roles, yet they frequently feel undervalued and undercompensated. This article aims to highlight this ongoing challenge and share the ways in which I have supported these incredible women in recognizing their worth and seeking just remuneration.

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The Undervalued Black Woman Achiever: An All-Too-Common Struggle

Throughout my career, I have encountered numerous Black women who pour their hearts and souls into their work, regularly surpassing expectations and demonstrating exceptional commitment. Unfortunately, despite their remarkable contributions, they often feel as though their efforts go unnoticed or unrewarded.

This disheartening situation can arise due to various factors, such as an organization's failure to acknowledge and reward exceptional talent, inflexible compensation structures, or a lack of transparency in salary discussions. The consequences of this issue are significant, as underpaid overperformers may experience diminished job satisfaction, burnout, and a higher likelihood of seeking new opportunities.

Empowering Strategies for Change: Lifting as We Climb

Drawing from my experience as a career coach and an advocate for Black women, I've developed and implemented several strategies to help these undervalued achievers confront this challenge. The following are some key steps I've taken alongside them:

  1. Celebrating Our Successes: I encourage Black women to recognize and document their accomplishments, achievements, and accolades. This allows them to clearly communicate their value to their organization and serves as the foundation for our conversations with their employers.

  2. Knowledge is Power: I work with Black women to gather data on industry standards and comparable positions, empowering them with the knowledge they need to establish fair and reasonable salary expectations.

  3. Mastering the Art of Negotiation: With a strong understanding of their worth and market value, I support Black women in navigating the salary negotiation process. This involves discussing strategies, practicing difficult conversations, and providing unwavering encouragement.

  4. Charting a Path Forward: When a salary increase isn't immediately attainable, I collaborate with Black women to create an action plan outlining concrete steps toward achieving their desired compensation. This may involve setting performance goals, identifying professional development opportunities, or pursuing promotions with another organization.

  5. Advocating for Lasting Change: For those in organizations with a pattern of undervaluing top performers, particularly Black women, I recommend advocating for systemic changes. This can include promoting transparency in compensation practices, encouraging regular performance reviews, and nurturing a culture of recognition and reward.

The issue of underpaid overperformers is a deeply ingrained and far-reaching challenge that can have lasting consequences for both individuals and organizations. By working hand-in-hand with these undervalued Black women achievers, I have been able to help them secure fair compensation and improve their overall job satisfaction. In doing so, we not only uplift and empower our sisters, but also contribute to the development of a more equitable and high-performing workplace that benefits everyone. Together, we can continue to break down barriers and lift as we climb.

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Twanna Carter, Ph.D., Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

An ICF Professional Certified Coach (PCC) who empowers stressed, busy women execs, tackling impostor syndrome, self-criticism, and doubt to alleviate their stress so that they can find peace of mind and focus on excelling in their careers.

Rather than coach symptoms, she leverages her coaching so that women work on the root causes that threaten to sabotage their career and life. Which means clients see immediate change resulting in decreased stress, increased confidence, and shifting from overwhelm to relaxation.

Recognized as an Office of Personnel Management Presidential Management Fellow, Twanna left full-time federal employment to be an entrepreneur. She is currently the CEO of Twanna Carter Professional & Personal Coaching, LLC.



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