This 25-Year-Old Created A Wage Gap Calculator To Get You Paid What You’re Worth

When Adeola Ajani landed her “dream job” as a financial analyst with Morgan Stanley, she was elated. The feat was the culmination of her years of high education, interning and upskilling. And yet, she was severely undervalued. She was paid “anywhere from 35% to 40% less than her male counterparts,” despite holding similar credentials.

The issue, she says, started when she signed a non-negotiable agreement as a part of her job offer contract, in which she took to mean she would not be able to bargain at all on her initial salary amount. She later discovered that her white male colleague not only was able to negotiate his salary, he landed on a significantly higher number than what was earning.

“When I found out, I was devastated,” Ajani tells ESSENCE. “I told my mom. She told me to let it go. That’s just what happens to us. I could not let it go. I went to HR. I didn’t even go to my manager. I went to HR. HR told me I signed a non-negotiable agreement, and that’s very important. Non-negotiable agreement means once you’ve signed it, it is what it is. We’re not negotiating with you. We’re not talking with you. It is what it is. So I ate that. I worked weekends, holidays, overtime to try to make what he was making, and I was close to it. But I realized that I was still being severely underpaid no matter how hard I worked. I had to realize that I could’t kill myself for this. So, I pivoted.”

While still working full-time at the firm, she started gathering information about the racial and gender wage gap. A short time later, she launched a wage gap calculator tool to help women of color, particularly Black women, assess what their salary thresholds.

“That white male colleague had mentors that taught him anything is negotiable,” Ajani shares. “Many of us don’t have that.”

Now, in just a few short years, that standalone tool has grown into Fem Equity, a full-fledged company and that houses its SaaS platform which provides financial education and professional development that has impacted thousands. Surprisingly, Ajani didn’t plan it this way. “It wasn’t supposed to be a company,” Ajani shares. “It was just supposed to be a solution to eradicate the $1.1 million salary chasm.”

What she’s referring to is that Black women are losing out on millions in wealth over a 40-year work period because of the wealth pay gap. 

As ESSENCE previously pointed out, women earn an average of 82 percent of what men earn per recent data from Pew Research Center. Black women earn just 67 cents of what non-Black men earn. What’s more the Center for American Progress says a woman may lose $400,000 to $1.2 million because of this.  

On average, Fem Equity says it has helped users raise their annual salary by $20,000–the figure that stands between people living on shoe string budgets and actually accumulating generational wealth. Ajani has shared that users additional earnings now top $1,000,000.

And she’s done this all at just 25 years old.

“I’m just getting started,” Ajani says. “I’ve known since I was 17 that I was purposed to pour into my community by way of financial empowerment. This is only the beginning.”

This interview was edited for clarity and brevity.

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