I’m attempting to post a brief meditation on the daily quote from my Election Day advent calendar. Today brings us:
The cost of liberty is less than
the price of oppression.
W. E. B. DuBois
What will a little liberty run you these days? Reflecting upon it in my life, the cost has been learning to push my comfort zone.
The wage gap, with women earning 77¢ for each dollar earned by a man, is the price of oppression. What’s the cost of liberating yourself, as a woman, from that oppression?
- Talk about money and salaries. If you and your colleagues don’t talk, you’ll never know what others are being paid.
- Negotiate. Once you know what others are being paid, you are in a position to negotiate. Most people making salary decisions work with a salary range. You have nothing to lose by countering with a higher number when you are offered a position.
- Call bullshit when you see it, because sometimes the cost of liberty may be filing a lawsuit or an EEOC complaint. But imagine the change you can create!
- When you’re doing the hiring, be fair to the men and women you hire.
No one expects you to bankrupt yourself for liberty, but if you can afford to spend some of your personal capital making some change in the world, do it. You’ll never regret the feeling.
I worked at an agency that had made a policy decision before I arrived that it simply couldn’t afford to pay market rate, to women or men. It wasn’t an explicit policy, but it might as well have been. Many nonprofits work this way, and people are willing, to a certain extent, to sacrifice salary for the intangible benefits of working for a mission greater than themselves and greater than a corporate profit margin.
The price of oppression for me was that I worked within that system and hired people under that policy. The cost I paid was that I was honest with the people I hired. I told them that I couldn’t pay them what they were worth, but I wanted their help, and in exchange, I would help them find a new, better-paying job when they were ready. It was the best I could do. I’m proud of the great jobs several of my hires went on to have that paid really great salaries and put them in a whole new level of economic security.