Gender pay gap and negotiation confidence

I was just looking at a Linked In profile after sending a happy birthday message from the reminders, and the person in question had a project about closing the gender pay gap. So thought I’d share something with you that I wrote to them ( edited ).

Many years ago I dated a girl whom was a desktop publisher / graphic artist ( and a good one ), and who had a background in printing that went back to the old type-setting days. Like a lot of other creatives ( both male & female ) she lacked the confidence and negotiating ability to get paid what she was worth, but at least she was now self employed and working from home. But this failure to be adequately paid is neither restricted to women, nor creatives alone, it’s common to many professions, but just more prevalent in some than others, and more prevalent again in women.

However it also isn’t just an issue of confidence, it’s also an issue of many other causational roots, including both momentum of past history, entrenchment of circumstances, and the bias/prejudice of the system.

When this girl moved with me from Queensland to Victoria, she was offered a job by a guy whom ran multiple print-presses ( more than a dozen ) to produce a few dozen regular publications – and what he wanted her to do was run multiple art and design teams simultaneously and single-handedly, without a personal assistant, without any particular authority to act autonomously, with a limited and purely dictated ( by him ) budget … for the measly sum of $30K ( her salary ).

When she came back from the job interview, I can’t remember if she was considering it or not … I think she was … but I was shocked. So when she asked my opinion of whether she should take it, I basically said to her:

When someone asks you to do that much work for that little pay, you turn to them and say: “Are you talking to me cunt?” – and then you leave.

We both had a laugh – but I was only half joking – because quite frankly it was an insulting and exploitative offer, and the last thing anyone should ever want to do is work for someone like that.

Clearly he could neither be trusted nor respected as an employer, especially if he’s willing to ruin the relationship before it begins by offering you a form of slavery.

But people are used to this behaviour, and they’re desperate, so they accept complete crap because they don’t have a wealthy family or personal history with reserve resources to fall back on, and then they’re proud of being “hard workers” because they’re told to be by a disingenuous media, whom promote this social narrative, but also because they don’t want to think of themselves as cowards ( but that’s how it makes them feel on the inside, even though arguably turning it down could mean starvation and homelessness ).

Just a few years ago now ( 20 years on ) I dated an artist whom worked from home ( and a small office previously ) when we were in Melbourne. However she was doing work that turned others into millionaires while she got a measly sum, out of which she had to pay office expenses. She also couldn’t raise enough cash to replace her computer, which was a very old HP that was completely full, buggy, and so slow that she would have to turn it on, then go to the cafe, because it would take that long to boot up to a desktop.

If that computer died, her whole business was fucked, so her “business model” ( or lack thereof ) was just a trap which at some stage was going to get worse.

I worked with her trying to teach her negotiating skills and tactics, but she fought against me the whole way, because she just hated the conflict of negotiations so much, disagreed with my level of cynicism about bosses ( which comes from a long history of experience if you want to go look at my Linked In profile ), and would rather get ripped off than have to face it.

She did make some incremental change, and almost got a better deal with one particular client ( because she wouldn’t let me negotiate on her behalf, so she got ripped off again by all my advice that she refused to take on ), but then he eventually ripped her off even worse ( as I had predicted and was trying to tell her about the obvious BS in his excuses etc. ).

Now this particular client cried poor, desperately needed her help, and so she made massive sacrifices and took massive risks for him, but he intentionally fucked her in the negotiations anyway. So while she struggled, he blew money from the deals her work allowed him to make, on going to parties, and staying in nice hotels as he flew around the world. Her possible compensation for this delayed gratification, risk, and suffering, was a worse deal than she should have gotten without any of it.

This is the degree to which my ex was able to sell herself a lie to avoid the pain of negotiation.

NOW THE REASON I TOLD YOU THIS WHOLE STORY – through these and other experiences I realised there had to be a way to save people from needing to negotiate in the first place, and there also had to be a way to allow people to be fairly paid for their work – whether as employee, contractor, or consultant – so I developed a system to do so.

This system includes a modular contract system which prevents scope creep, even where the client has no idea what they actually want, and I’ve incorporated the whole thing into a Project Collaboration Development & Resource Allocation Framework which combines alternative profit sharing and investment systems that I’ve designed, such that no one gets more than their fair share, no one gets to leverage a bargaining advantage, and yet everyone is incentivised to get involved.

This whole framework also of course forms part of the transitional strategy to the alternative economic paradigm of the OEF vision.

Now … this should make me an instant billionaire, but the problem is I’m kind of in the same boat myself, as I have spinal damage but don’t receive a DSP and I don’t have the money to develop it further ( at least not very quickly or easily ), but can’t accept investment by people on terms that would just undermine and sabotage the very objectives, principles, and systems I’m proposing.

I do have a strategy to eventually get around all that, but it’s very slow and uncertain, because I’m struggling to fend off homelessness, and everything is done on the budget equivalent of the metaphorical “smell of an oily rag”.

So if anyone out there has allied objectives relating to closing the gender pay gap, or getting better deals for creative artists and technical inventors, small business people, or any such thing – and if you think you have allies that could help fund my work – please come talk to me.

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