Well that struck a nerve.
You had a lot to say about being paid well for the work you do. And based on the response to last week’s post, I’m even more certain that being asked to settle for less – or even for nothing at all – is a particular issue for women.
(If you missed those tips about getting what you’re worth, you can catch up at www.catherinejohns.com/stand-in-your-value. And be sure to check out the comments.)
Men may say I’m wrong about this – and if you’re one of them, by all means let us hear from you in the Comments.
But I’m thinking requests to give away your time and expertise come women’s way more often. And I’ve been pondering why that might be.
It’s common for women who are relatively new in their business to have a hard time setting fees and sticking to them. There’s that urge to be caring and generous and likable; it gets in our way when it comes to establishing prices. And sometimes that difficulty stays with us even as we gain experience.
Some business coaches suggest a lack of confidence is to blame. A woman who isn’t completely convinced of her own value will naturally have trouble expressing it to someone else. Talking about “the investment” is tough if you don’t deeply believe you can deliver.
And when a potential client comes right out and asks for a freebie or a deal, well, remember that song from Oklahoma, ”I’m Just a Woman Who Can’t Say No?”
That’s a lot of us, isn’t it?
It’s not only women business owners, either. A Carnegie Mellon economics professor says women in the corporate world lose out on promotions because they are asked and expected to handle non-promotable tasks – favors – significantly more often than men are. Which is to say, women everywhere are giving away their time and expertise.
And get this. Those requests for favors come from men and from other women. Why? A University of Pittsburgh professor says it’s because they all know “women accept the request more readily.”
We can hardly blame people for taking advantage of us if we’re willing to devalue our own work, can we?
Women’s organizations don’t help much. NAWBO’s notorious for asking speakers, graphic designers, even bakers to work without pay. Take the Lead hopes to create gender parity in corporate leadership. And their website says: “Volunteer your professional services to help Take The Lead reach its goal …”
So here’s my first thought about turning this around. Women should pay each other!
Organizations that represent women should value women enough to pay them for the services they provide. Yes, you might want to make an “in-kind donation” to a group you support. But women’s organizations should take the lead in respecting women and their work.
As for individuals, I’m not saying you can never do another favor for a friend. But in general, we should set our fees, practice saying the number out loud until it doesn’t feel awkward anymore, and then tell prospective clients what we charge without hedging or apologizing or justifying.
And when we’re in the client’s position, we shouldn’t ask another woman for her professional service without being willing to pay her for the results we’ll get.
Call it the Getting Paid Pledge. I’m in. How about you?
Post a comment to take the pledge and share the results.