March 5, 2018

Pay inequities will exist until 2059, according to one study. Gender disparities persist in the journalism industry across platforms and those disparities are amplified for women of color.

That's the bad news. Now the good: At Poynter’s Women’s Leadership Symposium in New York, three executives discussed strategies for female journalists to address those double standards in the workplace.

Indira Lakshmanan, Poynter’s Newmark Chair in Journalism Ethics, led the conversation between Marcy McGinnis, former senior vice president for CBS News and Al-Jazeera America, Fara Warner, former vice president of custom content at Dow Jones, and Dana Canedy, administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes.

Here are some of their best tips:

On negotiations and pay equity

  • When you’re negotiating for a new position, don’t take the first offer. It’s like paying sticker price for a car on a car lot. Ask for 15 to 25 percent more.
  • If you work at a paper with a union, you can find out the base pay for positions.
  • Ask for a signing bonus.
  • When you do ask for a raise, be able to articulate your accomplishments and value to the company. Don’t say you need to pay your rent.
  • If you’re a manager, you can also address pay inequality: Make the corrections at once if you can, or make them incrementally over a few years.
  • Mid-year and end-of-year evaluations are the best times to ask for a raise.

On handling emotions in the workplace

  • Take a deep breath. Figure out where you are on the emotional spectrum. If you can’t picture a man doing it, don’t do it.
  • Figure out your best self to show at that moment. If crying is your best self, then cry.
  • If you feel yourself on the verge of getting emotional in the middle of a conversation, it’s okay to say, “I have nothing more to say” and end it.
  • When dealing with an emotional person: You can say, "I’m going to give you a moment to collect yourself," and come back later.
  • You can and should be empathetic to others, but don’t let their emotions become yours.

On dealing with corporate culture

  • As you make it up the corporate ladder, don’t forget where you came from and don’t forget to talk to people who are lower than you.
  • If people make negative comments about your demeanor, reframe them. For example, if someone says you’re pushy or aggressive, say, “I’m a gatekeeper and an advocate for this place. It’s what I should be doing.” As journalists, we’re supposed to be pushy and aggressive.
  • Don’t be the woman who doesn’t advocate for other women.
  • You can be a leader at every single level. Take responsibility to help other women make it.
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