Today I had a hard conversation with my boss. I spent days rehearsing it and it still did not turn out the way I planned. Here were my main points:
I am tired of being taken advantage of.
I am not being compensated fairly.
If I do not see changes, I will look for other employment.
My voice quaked…
My heart raced…
But, I said it. I looked her in the eyes and told her how I was feeling.
One thing I tell people all the time is you have to be your own advocate. Ask for what you want, they can only tell you no. I will be the first one to admit I am more of a preacher than a practitioner, but this time I did it. I felt like I was going to melt in my chair. Every word coming out of my mouth felt like a piece of my soul escaping and I could not get them back.
My mind kept telling me I am making a mistake, I am being ungrateful, I have it so easy. My heart sang a different song; you know you’re worth it, you deserve more, you’ve earned it.
I was prepared to use lines such as:
“Already as a woman, I am underpaid in this industry, in this country. I have the added disadvantage of being a Black woman.”
“I am trying to pave my way as not only a ‘doer’ but a ‘leader’, I can not stay silent regarding the inequity in work distribution or compensation.”
In the end, I can’t actually remember what I said, it is kind of haze. I do know there was a lot of head nodding and soul stealing eye contact.
She said I was right.
What?! No retaliation? No “there’s the door”? No, “We just can’t do that for you”?
Was I right? Well of course! She went on to say she did not want to lose me. She acknowledged it was unfair she assigned me more work because she knew I could handle it. She went on to say how much she looked up to me and how much of an asset I was. She also stated her regret for not fighting more for a comparable salary, but she would not make that mistake again. “What do you want?” she asked me.
It felt like forever. I could barely breathe, my hands were shaking. I could not keep up my feigned bravado. I honestly did not think I would get this far. What do I want? That’s a great question.
World peace? A personal chef? A nap? A vacation? A quick escape? Stay focused!
I am really not in it for the money, I am in it to do good. I also know I need to live and pay my bills so I cannot take it out of the equation.
My answer: I want more work-life balance; I want to have the capability of working remotely sometimes. I want ownership of my projects instead of “helping” others complete their’s and they take credit for it. I want a different title and pay grade because I do much more than my assigned duties. I do not want to be labeled as “not a team player” because I am sticking up for myself. I just want to help without feeling like I am constantly overburdened and doing a disservice to myself.
I had nothing to lose.
“Okay *writes notes*, I will see what I can do”
With a huge sigh of relief, I walk out of the office.
I am not going to get my hopes up, I am way too cynical for that. I will give it a chance because I know with bureaucracy, nothing happens quickly. I am okay if we work towards something together, but I refuse to wait months as they think I can be satiated with sweet words and no actions.
As difficult as it may be, I will walk away if I have to and I will find something else.
To be continued…..