“"Your value doesn’t decrease basedJacqueline A. HindsContributor
on someone’s inability to see your worth."
~ Anon ~”
Many years ago, I was contacted by an organisation to speak at their event on Emotional Intelligence (EI).
Back then, EI was seen as the new ‘buzz word’ that was fervently mentioned in every other sentence at briefings, meetings, or project initiatives!
I distinctively remember when competency frameworks were the ‘in thing’ back in the 80s. It hit the organisation I worked for back then like a state emergency had been declared!
I was confused at the urgency to get this framework up and embedded in the organisation, and realised this was a status they needed to attain to be seen as an organisation that is ‘first-choice’ and progressive and, having their own competency framework running and embedded, was them ultimately showcasing this status to their competition!
If you’ve been there and experienced it, you’ll know what I’m referring to. Anyway, I digress!
Although I was excited at speaking at this event, I was somewhat taken aback at the person’s attitude when I asked them what their budget was.
Their response was “oh we don’t have a budget for speakers at this event, we were hoping you could do this for free!”
My response (plus an exasperated eye roll) was ‘I’m so sorry I can’t accommodate you on this initiative as, I have a fixed fee for speaking at all events, and then proceeded to tell her what my fee was, ending the conversation with a pleasant, ‘I look forward to receiving your completed speakers booking form should you choose to accept me as your speaker.’
As a Black woman, I value what I bring to the ‘offering table’ and, as a businesswoman and, as a perfectionist in my work, I am extra vigilant especially when I’m approached by prospective clients to undertake pieces of work and their expectation is that the practices and principles of Emotional Intelligence (EI) are woven into the mix.
I recently came across one of my LinkedIn connections’ post entitled Notes from a Professional Speaker: Episode 423.
I loved the fact that as a professional Black man, he was unapologetic about what he’d written and how he felt about being approached to speak, more to the point, he felt no way whatsoever in informing them of his fee, and then walking away because they were unwilling to see his worth.
This resonated with me from many levels and spurred me on to continue writing this piece from my lived experience too!
There are too many situations where Black professionals are expected to undertake projects, roles or tasks that require their emotional labour, knowledge, and expertise, all without recognition or recompense.
The Value We Bring
Now I don’t normally get offended very easily, but a couple of months ago. I ran my first in-person EQ Leadership programme for a client.
The people that attended were quite senior levels in their organisations and from a variety of industry arenas.
After the training a couple of the participants took my business card and one of them actually sent me an email as he was very interested in undertaking an EQ Leadership assessment as, the programme only provided them with a sample report to peruse.
I felt insulted after reading his email and request for a proposal to conduct EQ assessments for himself and his colleagues. In one fail swoop he devalued me as the EQ Coach by making a throw away derogatory remark:
“I do quite like the sound of completing the EQ Leadership assessment, receiving the results and a personal report with the scheduled coaching as mentioned on your website.
Hoping you can come up with a plan and a programme for us?
(On the cheap… might have the odd spare fiver!)”
I’m the only Black woman doing Emotional Intelligence the way I do it here in the UK and, to receive this type of email says more about the person than it does about me.
Needless to say, I sent him a proposal with my offering and haven’t heard from him since!!
Now what I’m going to say, I will not retract, because this scenario has played out time and time again over the years and, I’ve even mentioned it to other Black women who are in the same professional field as myself and, they can resonate with me from their own personal and lived experiences.
There have been too many times, where I’ve been conducting training or coaching people in group settings and, I’ll be asked all sorts of questions like they are testing my knowledge in the subject matter.
The thing is, they are very interested but, there is something else that takes place during these occasions, it’s as if their body language and demeanour speaks the following words… ‘I’m so interested and want to do this but, it’s such a shame you’re Black’!
I’m an Empath so, all of this is picked up by me without them uttering a single word!
Again, I know my worth and the value I bring to the assignment and client.
There is nothing stopping anyone enquiring about your services and taking the information you’ve shared with them to someone who looks like them, to see if they can accommodate them.
More often than not, this is what happens, or they will come back months later to pick this up with you (after they’ve scoured the globe to find someone who offers the same service provision as you) and pick up where it trailed off.
Research That Speaks Volumes
In 2021 Dianne Greyson, Founder of The Ethnicity Pay Gap Campaign and Susan Baker conducted some much-needed research and produced the Impact of the Ethnicity Pay Gap on Black Women in the UK report.
If you want to get a feel of the ‘lived experiences’ and struggles that Black and other minority ethnic women face in the UK, please download it, and read it for yourself.
Another report that highlights inequalities is Broken Ladders: The myth of meritocracy for women of colour in the workplace, is another suggested research report produced by The Fawcett Society and The Runnymede Trust.
This is just a snapshot of research conducted, there is still much work to do in addressing these disparities
Question, what is the value you bring?
In a society that showcases the need for equity, diversity, and inclusivity at every juncture, to me, it’s very much the ethos of action speaks louder than words more so than certain ‘tick-box’ exercises to prove one is committed to the cause.
If you want my service offerings and, the knowledge, skills and expertise I bring to the table, pay me what I’m worth!
Please don’t ask me for a reduction in my fee or, tell me that you don’t have the budget and would like it for free, because you wouldn’t dream of asking me to do that if I was a white woman!
Black Wall St. MediaContributor