A freelance recruiter received backlash online after sharing a Linkedin post stating that she offered a candidate $45,000 less than her company’s hiring budget because the candidate didn’t ask for a higher salary.

Mercedes Johnson said she offered the candidate $85,000 for a job that had a budget of $130,000. Her reason?

“Because that’s what she asked for and I personally don’t have the bandwidth to give lessons on salary negotiation.” 

Johnson said there was a lesson to be learned and that candidates should “always ask for the salary you [deserve] no matter how large you think it might be.”

In a Facebook post she later said that it was a “common practice in the hiring space,” and “hope to one day be able to help candidates be aware of the salary ranges they should as before it ends with another 45k difference in pay”

It was revealed that the recruiter was an African-American women, which led to an on-going conversation about the lack of salary transparency in the job recruitment process and the wage gap the Black workers still face. Here is a glimpse of what people have to say on social media.

Jamese K.

“It’s not just that some folks don’t have experience negotiating, it’s also that some folks (particularly Black, Indigenous, and other women and nonbinary people of color) have experience trying to negotiate and having offers rescinded. That happened to me early in my career (and I saw it happen repeatedly to coworkers and friends). My No. 1 priority became just keeping a job to feed my kids, and I was scared to take the risk to try to negotiate again. It’s not just that folks are innately lacking confidence, it’s that structures of oppression break people and in that broken state, folks are conditioned to accept less than they are worth.”

Emily A.

“Women should uplift other women and give them the salary they deserve. This could have been a great teaching point and a chance for her to lift someone up. I bet this candidate learns their worth and moves on quickly. Retention of quality employees is also key and to retain people you need to pay them what they are worth.”

Kevin H.

“The reality is one could be familiar with negotiation but not know the actual budget for this job for this company or the going salary rate in the industry. Women and people of color often start careers with lower salaries/pay rates so she could have thought she was doing much better than before. Whatever the background of the employer, this is an example of supporting and replicating racist systems when they could just pay someone what the position is worth to the company…it’s too bad the approach was based on the person’s own knowledge and experience and not looking out for a new team member.”

Zachary P.

“What a terrible thing…Pay your people what they are worth! Just because they don’t know their worth doesn’t mean they should be paid less. This is why presenting salary bands on job description are so important.”

CiCi A.

“When I was interviewing for a job, I asked for a certain salary. The editor, a Black woman, made sure to say ‘Nah’ and offered me $20K more. Even when I didn’t negotiate my salary well, she used her power to make sure I was paid well. Grateful for people like her.”

Kira B.

“The HR world is buzzing about this post. All I have to say is I wouldn’t want to be Mercedes Johnson today. This is exactly why pay inequality happens among women and people of color. Make a positive difference in someone’s life by lifting them up and being honest about the pay range. Do not underpay because you think you are doing the company a favor because when that person finds out, they will leave. Post the salary range for the position and stop this mess! This is the very reason why there are pay transparency laws.”

Laura Onyeneho

I cover Houston's education system as it relates to the Black community for the Defender as a Report for America corps member. I'm a multimedia journalist and have reported on social, cultural, lifestyle,...