Hollywood keeps pushing the envelope when it comes to hot topics in the workplace, whether it is eradicating sexual harassment or giving opportunities to women, people of color and the LGBTQ community. In a recent LinkedIn panel on success, Issa Rae chatted about equal pay and how important it is for men and women to earn the same rate for the same amount of work.
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Even though Rae advocates strongly for this, she revealed she had never asked for a pay raise herself. The reason might surprise you.
“It was something that definitely needed to be brought to my attention. Working in the corporate world, before I started making [my own work], I never asked for a raise,” she explained. “I thought I was lucky to have this job. I didn’t feel like I deserved it at the time.”
While she didn’t necessarily get paid what she was worth, there were others who were happy to ask for a raise — the men at her job. She realized how important it was to advocate for herself.
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Rae shared that as the executive producer and star of Insecure, she also sees men proactively asking for pay raises each season. That’s not necessarily the case with the women who work for her.
“As an employer of men and women, I’ve seen the men who work with my company have asked for their work and have had no issue [with asking],” she said. “A lot of the women have not, so I make sure to empower them to ask.”
In fact, Rae will even tip them off if a new position is opening up or if she thinks their work deserves more recognition.
“I will say, ’Hey, ask for this raise. Or hey, this is going to happen next year and I’m going to make sure you are taken care of, but you have to tell me what your needs are.’ I think keeping everything transparent is so important.”
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Rae is almost hyperaware of equality in the workplace because it’s been a headline in almost every newspaper over the last six months. She tells her agent and management team to make sure that she doesn’t fall into a pay-gap situation like what happened to Michelle Williams during the reshoots of All of the Money in the World.
“I’m trusting my team. I tell them, ‘Please don’t let a news report come out that somebody else is making significantly more than me,’” Rae summed up. “As long as the lines of communication are open, no one should be surprised. That is the key.”
Rae now knows her worth and isn’t afraid to ask for more.
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