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How this career coach bumped her salary by $50K, now she’s committed to helping other women of color do the same
“I meet so many women who’ve never negotiated their salary,” says Esther Leonard, a career coach whose self-decreed mission is to help women of color earn more and set themselves up for career and financial success.
Leonard, a 2010 graduate of Loyola University Chicago, knows the difference a salary bump can make. After spending most of her career in non-profits and education, Leonard moved into the tech space after relocating to Boston from Chicago roughly seven years ago. There she became enraptured by the tech industry—as well as the lack of pay equity. The experience motivated her to switch careers, negotiating for a $50,000 salary increase in the process.
“I got really fascinated with Cambridge. It’s like the Silicon Valley of the east,” Leonard tells Fortune. She worked at Roxbury Community College when first moving to Boston, leading the career development and internship programs.
“One of the things that really interested me was the idea of digital literacy as well as the wealth gap,” Leonard says. “And of course there’s a wealth gap, but it’s also a race gap… Right away I was like, ‘this is something I’m really passionate about.’”
During a stint at Boston University as assistant director of career education—planning diversity, equity and inclusion events, and coaching students and alumni on job searching skills—Leonard set out to start her own practice: Esther the Career Coach. She began advising first-generation college students who were graduating with “so much student debt… I would see them and think, ‘Okay their first job they’re probably going to make just the bare minimum salary,” she says.
Meanwhile, students she saw graduating from the business or engineering schools who would go on to jobs with salaries that were so much higher.
She found herself navigating that world, too. The more Leonard learned about the tech landscape and networked with people in the industry she felt she too could be earning more.
Leonard was making somewhere between $60,000 and $70,000 when she worked at Boston University. She wanted a pay hike and says she saw the tech industry as her best option for that. She wasn’t particularly familiar with the landscape and what she’d need to do, but then she was introduced to Colorwave, a non-profit focused on closing the wealth gap by helping people of color develop skills and connect them with leadership roles at VC-backed startups.
Through a fellowship program at Colorwave, Leonard garnered a job opportunity as a sourcer at Faire, an online wholesale marketplace. The company initially gave her a salary range of $75,000 to $80,000—but that wasn’t the bump she was looking for.
“So I did a lot of research—always do your research,” Leonard says. “One of the salaries I saw on Glassdoor was for $100,000.”
So she asked for $120,000. They landed on a number just below that.
A commitment to helping women of color negotiate that raise
In addition to working at Faire, Leonard still acts as a career coach. Negotiating her own salary has inspired her to teach women, especially women of color who just weren’t taught from a young age, the value they have and the importance of negotiating. It builds confidence, she says, even if the first time around is a no.
Black women’s median weekly earnings for the second quarter of 2022 were $840, or roughly 72% of earnings for white men ($1,161), 88% of earnings for white women ($956), and 88% of earnings for Black men ($953), according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics. Weekly earnings for Hispanic women were $752.
That gap in pay starts as early as 16 years old, according to data from Lean In, and it only grows from there.
Leonard encourages the women of color she works with to do the research, to take into account their budget and cost of living, and to know when they’re willing to say no and walk away.
“We need to destigmatize the salary negotiation,” Leonard says. “Usually when I start talking to women about interviews and salary, I ask ‘How much do you want?’”
She wants to help end the culture of just being happy to get in the door; get the offer and rid women of color of the fear of being seen as ungrateful for asking for more.
Australia’s largest airline asks senior executives to help with lost luggages
Labor shortage woes have gotten to a point that even senior managers are pitching in to help things on the ground run smoothly.
Arguably one of the sectors hardest hit by lack of staff in 2022 has been the airline industry, which is dealing with unavailable employees and travel chaos right as demand for air travel has started to pick up again after two years of dormancy.
Travelers have had to contend with endless delays and scores of lost luggages, forcing some airlines to get creative with their apologies (see Delta Airlines offering free pizza to passengers on late flights—or $10,000 to get off an oversold one).
Now some airlines are getting just as creative in figuring out how to soften the labor shortage issues at the heart of all the chaos.
Qantas Airways, Australia’s largest domestic and international airline, is accepting volunteers from senior staff and management to help with baggage handling delays on the ground, and is seeking at least 100 executive volunteers over the next three months to help solve the issue.
In an internal memo circulated to staff and shared on Monday, Qantas enquired about any “Expressions of Interest” from management and executive staff to help with ground handling operations. Roles include loading and unloading aircraft, sorting and scanning bags, and driving the tug vehicles used to ferry luggage around the airfield.
Qantas will provide full training to all volunteers in the program, who will be asked to help at either the Sydney or Melbourne airports. The note emphasized that there is “no expectation” that volunteers will take on extra duties on top of their normal roles, and that sign-ups will be able to rework their schedules and commitments with managers for the duration of their commitment.
Last month, a baggage handler hired by Qantas told the Guardian that as many as one in 10 bags were not making it through Sydney’s domestic terminal, citing an unmanageable workload with low staff numbers and rising demand for travel.
Air travel chaos
In the note seeking Expressions of Interest, Qantas cited sick workers due to COVID and the flu in addition to the labor shortage as reasons behind the delays and lost luggages.
In a statement shared with Fortune, a Qantas spokesperson admitted that “operational performance has not been meeting our customers’ expectations or the standards that we expect of ourselves,” and that the company is “pulling out all stops to improve our performance.”
The spokesperson added that around 200 executive and management staff have already volunteered to work on the ground and expedite operations during busy air travel periods since April of this year.
Qantas is far from the only airline to run into staffing issues this summer. Last month, European budget airline Ryanair placed the blame on airports for failing to hire enough staff to cope with the return of air travel, which has come back so forcefully that airports have asked airlines to cut back on summer flights.
Airlines’ labor shortage is not only limited to ground staff and baggage handlers either. Airlines have also had to contend with a significant decline in eligible pilots returning to work after the pandemic, while demand for airplane mechanics and repair staff is also showing signs of outstripping supply.
Last month, Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker told Reuters that the crisis was due to an “epidemic” of people working remotely during the pandemic.
“This all happened because people learned to get easy money from working out of their homes, and fewer people now want to come and do the jobs that they were doing,” he said.
For those airport staff who are returning to work, it is quickly becoming unbearable. A recent survey in the U.K. found that nearly half of the country’s airport staff was considering leaving their job because of insufficient pay relative to the stresses of the job this year.
Carlyle Group CEO Kewsong Lee steps down suddenly, surprising executives
Carlyle Group Inc. said Chief Executive Officer Kewsong Lee stepped down, a setback to the private equity giant’s bid to navigate a generational transition during a period of market turbulence.
Co-Founder Bill Conway, current non-executive co-chairman, will immediately serve as interim CEO during the search for a permanent replacement, the company said in a statement late Sunday.
Lee became the sole boss in September 2020 after a power tussle that led to co-chief executive Glenn Youngkin leaving. Lee’s exit came suddenly and was a surprise to many executives. With his five-year employment agreement due to expire at the end of the year, Lee and board directors clashed over his contract in recent discussions, said a person familiar with the matter.
Both sides agreed to begin a search for a new CEO to lead Carlyle in its next phase of growth, the company said.
Lee has been trying to diversify revenues, make profits less tied to stock markets’ boom-and-bust cycles and lift the stock price. Volatile markets have made it hard for buyout firms to take companies public or sell them at high prices.
In his aggressive attempts to remake the firm, Lee—a former Warburg Pincus dealmaker who joined Carlyle in 2013—made changes that at times put him at odds with the old guard. He tried to knit competing factions and restructure teams to make dealmakers work more closely together. He also staffed the top ranks with new faces and tried to shift the Washington-based firm’s power center toward New York.
Shares of Carlyle have dropped 31% this year, underperforming rivals including Blackstone Inc. and Apollo Global Management Inc.
Carlyle posted a 34% increase in distributable earnings in the second quarter, as it grew its credit business and boosted fee streams. Still, Lee said at the time that the industry faces an uncertain environment as the Federal Reserve moves to raise interest rates and tackle inflation. Valuations will need to reset before deal activity picks up across the industry, he said.
A newly formed search committee will help find a permanent successor, Carlyle said. The company also formed a CEO office to assist Conway and make a “seamless transition” once a replacement has been identified.