Headlines hit this week and the news is out: Vanna White hasn’t gotten a raise in… 18 years! Gasp.
We need to unpack this.
First, this happened TO Vanna.
Let’s be clear about this. This happened TO Vanna. Yes, we all have agency. And you would think that those in high places have even moreso (but yet, not always the case). But… someone, somewhere should have spoken up.
How could 18 years go by without someone muttering, mentioning, uttering that her salary needs to increase each year. This is a given.
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Why is it a given?
We know that better this year than most. But every year pay/ salary needs to “adjust” or increase because of inflation. This is called an “inflation adjustment” and doesn’t have anything to do with a raise (so don’t let them tell you any different).
2. Raises are a regular part of work.
Raises are a quite typical and regular part of work. They hopefully happen yearly, maybe less frequently depending on the situation. But if you’re in a position for 18 years. And you’re as iconic as Vanna White. Vanna. White. There is absolutely and utterly no reason Vanna White wouldn’t get a raise every year. Every single year.
She did report that she got bonuses (Mzezewa, 2023). But let’s be clear. Bonuses are NOT the same as a raise. If we’re ranking them, a raise is far superior than a bonus payment. Let’s get into why.
Why is a raise better than a bonus?
A raise is better than a bonus because a raise is an ongoing pay increase. A raise impacts your pay each pay period. A raise impacts total take home pay each year.
These are benefits that a bonus just does not provide. A one-time bonus will only impact you once. While it might be sizable, it cannot build on itself like a raise can. Furthermore, when you hear you get a bonus, you often think you’re getting the lump sum. But many forget that this is of course taxed too, just like regular income.
Simply put, a bonus cannot build. A raise has building power.
Vanna White underpaid is all of us underpaid.
Why it’s personal to all of us…
This is a headline because it could have been you or me or anyone we know. We know this because it likely was us in a situation in the not too distant past. Probably until someone spoke up and let you know you needed to negotiate.
Behind every woman who negotiates is another woman who negotiated and told her about it.
The reason we’re so outraged about Vanna White is because Vanna represents so many of us.
Women face many challenges regarding negotiation
Unfortunately it’s true that many women face an uphill battle with negotiation. Yes, it’s getting better, but we’re (society’s) not there yet.
Women are penalized for negotiating
Women still face barriers of being “penalized for negotiating on their own behalf” according to research from Linda Babcock & Lei Lai (Babcock, Lai, Shonk, 2023).
If women are penalized for negotiating, it checks with the research that shows women negotiate less than men, likely in part for this penalty (Shonk, 2023). Women are well aware “that negotiating could trigger this type of social backlash at the office” (Shonk, 2023).
Is it getting better? I hope so. I don’t have the research to show it, but it feels like it? Maybe? I’d love research to back that up, though.
But there is a bit of more bad news…
Women are lied to in negotiations
New research says women re lied to in negotiations. I know. Wtf.
A new study shows that “people are also more likely to lie to female negotiators than to male negotiators…. Because participants viewed them (women) as less competent and thus less likely to question their lies” (Kray, Van Zant, Kennedy, Shonk, 2023) …. Um … what??
Furthermore… “Both men and women also were more likely to give male negotiators preferential treatment by disclosing hidden interests” (Kray, Van Zant, Kennedy, Shonk, 2023). I cannot.
So, is it on Vanna or is it on the lack of progress we’re still painfully entrenched in?
Don’t let what happened to Vanna White happens o you! You need to negotiate. Negotiating is a nonnegotiable.
Be aware of these factors when you’re negotiating
Be aware of these factors when you’re negotiating and don’t take no for an answer. You are not less competent, you don’t deserve to be lied to and you don’t deserve to be penalized. You’re qualified, you’re overqualified, you deserve to be there, you deserve this space, room and pay.
Read more on negotiation with this post, 5 Tips: Focus On What You Can Control in a Negotiation & be ready if they say no, and be ready to pivot:
Want more on negotiation & career topics?
*Program On Negotiation: Harvard Law School “Challenges Facing Women Negotiators – Negotiating tips for women negotiators to achieve results at the negotiation table” (2023) – Katie Shonk
*The Cut: “Apparently Vanna White Hasn’t Gotten a Raise in 18 Years” (By Tariro Mzezewa, 2023)
Disclaimer: While the contents of this post and blog come from research and personal experience, each experience, situation and/or person has their own unique circumstances. This is not negotiation, financial or any other form of legitimate or official advice from an expert. Each individual should do their own independent, comprehensive research. Negotiation, career and all other decisions are the sole responsibility of each individual or party. Details found on the blog and in individual posts are opinions and should be treated as such for entertainment purposes only. Read further disclaimer information on the Disclaimer page.