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I am proud to call myself a modern Latina. As a modern Latina, I have more opportunities than my Latino grandparents and parents could have ever dreamt of. However, in 2015, as a woman of color, there are still some barriers for Latinas to cross, especially professionally. During President Obama’s 2014 State of the Union address, he noted women who worked full-time and year-round earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn across the country. Unfortunately, for Latinas, the gender gap is even worse as Latinas were only paid 54 percent of what white men were paid in 2014. Amigas, this needs to change! 

How do we do it? The best way to close this gap is with little changes, like advocating for raises for yourself at work. It may not be the easiest conversation to have with your boss, but it is imperative to closing the gender pay gap.  Here are the three best tips I have picked up from mentors, leaders, and my own personal experience when asking for a raise and/or promotion. 

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Sé Fuerte/Be Strong

One of the main reasons women, including Latinas, don’t receive raises or promotions, is because they are too afraid to ask for them. In fact, men are four times more likely to ask for a raise than women. That is crazy!! Many of us consider ourselves to be strong, fierce, and independent Latinas, but it seems we may lose our confidence with regards to work.

I will admit, I used to be more timid and shy in asking for a raise.  However, now that I’m more confident in my career and what skill sets I bring to the table, I am more willing to fight for my worth. After receiving a job offer, in the initial negotiations, I accepted on the condition that a raise discussion would be possible after a four-month review period. My boss agreed we could revisit the topic in September. Guess who was knocking on his door on September 1st and received a raise?  That’s right – me. However, it may never have happened if I hadn’t taken the initiative to ask for it in the first place.  

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The hardest hurdle you will likely face is simply finding the courage to ask for a raise. However, taking the lead in speaking with your boss about why you are an integral asset to the company can benefit your career immensely moving forward. So be strong and show your boss what your worth!

Gather Your Evidence

As an attorney, I understand that I need to have evidence before presenting a case. Asking for a raise requires the same – gather evidence before meeting with your boss. First, gather information about your work accomplishments and achievements. Let your boss know what contributions you have made to the team/agency/company. If you have specific numbers or percentages of how your contributions have impacted your employer in a positive way (especially financially), make sure to write these down.

Second, you will also need some information on your current position based on your company and industry-wide standards. Before any raise discussion, I researched salaries of my peers (from a company- and industry-wide perspective) to assist with my negotiations. There are websites such as glassdoor.com that collect this type of data, which will be extremely beneficial in salary and raise negotiations. Be prepared and review all this information so you can be ready with a well thought out explanation of why you deserve a raise.

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Keep a Poker Face

If the conversation does not turn out as you planned, make sure to refrain from becoming emotional and instead keep your poker face on. Crying or getting angry with your boss won’t make the situation any better and could, in fact, make it worse. Though I know it is easier said than done. When you’ve worked hard and don’t feel like you’re receiving the recognition you deserve, it’s hard to put a smile on your face and pretend everything is okay.

I’ve had two raise discussions (different jobs) where I was not happy with the end result. Both times I felt that I was being underpaid based on the circumstances. The first time I became defensive, which unfortunately spiraled into an even worse situation for myself that lasted several months. However, I learned from my mistake, so when the second opportunity came up, I politely smiled and thanked them. Yes, I was not happy with the result but at the very least, I still received some form of a raise. Controlling my emotions kept the situation under control. I also understood how to tackle the next time I asked for a raise.

Asking for a raise is not easy, but it is imperative for us to do so, especially as Latinas. Not only can we personally benefit, but our fellow Latinas can benefit as we try and close the gender gap. If you don’t ask for a raise, you may lose out on the chance to make more money and earn what you deserve. Plus, more often that not, the worse that can happen is they say no. If they do say no, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate your current job and employer. However, if you’re fortunate enough to receive a raise, then you’re on the path of helping yourself out in the long run.

Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.