I’ve written this post before, my laptop crashed and the whole post was deleted. Frustrated I decided I would come back to the topic when my energy allowed. Some months have passed and I suppose because the topic had been given life in my mind new perspectives emerged.
I initially thought the culture was that we (by we I mostly mean women) under valued our contributions to society in our respective capacities (In the workspace) and hence were not commanding and demanding a fair reward. We are intimidated by the question “what’s your cost” and often feel its best to determine this amount based on our perceived efforts and not our added value. As an entrepreneur selling Intellectual property I struggled profusely with pricing my brain power. Honestly I loathed the question “How much do you charge” which was a direct contradiction to my actions and only led to confusing reactions. Why was that? Why is it I was sent into a state of shock and horror when asked to share my fee.
It wasn’t until I hired a nanny/house keeper that I stopped to analyse. Here this woman was offering to assist me in caring for my young infant washing his clothes, cooking his food while also taking care of my home under my (mostly strict) instructions allowing me to devote more attention to both my own and my sons well being. As a first time mother I can tell you, this help (read value) is close to priceless. When asked what she felt was a fair compensation for the value she was providing my family and subtracting from her own (she too is a mother who was leaving her young son at home to come and help me take care of mine) with much reluctance and an extremely long pause (the type of pause I know oh too well) she answered …….. 40,000 (RWF) equivalent to about 50 dollars a month!
I hesitated to reply, I wanted to ask her “have you calculated your costs? How much is your rent?” “How will you be making your way to work everyday ?” After my initial thoughts of WOW what a bargain!! A small voice whispered, “this cost does not match the value you are looking for”. With much regret I quickly dismissed that thought. I Hired her. To be fair her presence alone was worth more than that. At the very least I had an extra pair of arms. I was almost sure she based her fee on her efforts and how easily things (that seemed back breaking to me) like hand washing, came to her. While she was providing a lot of emotional value to us she wasn’t investing herself to her chosen job. While she was able to watch Xander she wasn't able to teach him another language or his abc’s. She had no training, no certificates, and worse still she wasn’t even using her phone that availed new VALUE-ABLE skills for free! (Thank you google and Youtube, truly this is a great time to be alive). All that being said she was still providing service worth so much more than the value she was attaching to it.
Becoming the employer allowed me to recognise a lot of my self and how I handled professional situations as an employee. This is exactly how I too was under valuing my work done. Under pricing my value in front of others expecting them to show and TELL me my worth. Relying solely on my perceived efforts to determine my fee. How many hours spent and not at results were achieved. Worse than Christine, I was investing in my craft, offering hours upon hours of work mostly self taught (now you know that is dedication) paired with the insecurity voice you get for free 99 that screams this is not enough! Forcing me to offer way more options than I need to because …… THE ANXIETY OF BEING PAID!
But how then do you fairly cost what comes naturally to you, but is of value to others? How do you sow value that justifies your pay but leave you comfortable.
I thought surely anxiety to provide for myself and my family was the problem, years of sub-conciuos messaging that women are less than. That immigrants were entitled to much less, had run rounds around my confidence and I needed to get it back! Thats what I thought I would be sharing here today. Thats what my first post (that got deleted) was about. CONFIDENCE. What I found lying deeper was so surprising. VALUES.