How Much Am I Worth?

There is a wonderful story about one of the worlds most influential and highly regarded graphic designers. She met a long standing CEO client for lunch, who presided over a global bank. Having informed her of the sweeping changes that he had implemented in the organisation, it came as no surprise when he announced that they needed a new refreshed logo. She deftly sketched her vision on a napkin, presumably not paper, and handed it to him. It's perfect he declared.

She followed up with a thank you note for lunch and a bill for $100,000.

He rang her immediately and asked her how she could justify such a bill for a mere pencil drawing albeit on a high quality linen napkin.

You're not being charged for the sketch, she replied, you're being charged for a half a century of finely honed natural talent, commercial acuity, understanding and experience. All of these things allowed me to posit the perfect solution to your needs within moments.

The bill was paid.

Sunday is March 8th, International Women's Day. About 1,000,000 women and men celebrated the first official IWD in 1911 inspired by the celebration of America's National Women's Day, February 28, 1909, declared by the Socialist Party of America. In 1977, the United Nations officially got behind the annual honouring of women's rights known as International Women's Day. It was a day "to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of women's rights."

There are strong parallels between Gay Pride, which started in 1970, seven years before the UN officially branded and marketed IWD, both started as left wing demonstrations, both were about fighting for the rights of the oppressed and both, over time, became mainstream. In recent years, there has been a rumbling sense that corporate entities have backed both campaigns for their own profit. Joining the party only in the latter years, when much of the work is done, and the issues have become normalised. Perhaps, some part of that could be true but that does not mean it is without value.

The more visibility and financial support that can be given to organisations who drive positive social change, the better for everyone. We cannot be complacent about our social status quo, particularly in a world that is seeing the rise of the right, when misogynists and homophobes hold power, hard fought wins can be overturned overnight. Read How to Lose A Country, the 7 Steps From Democracy to Dictatorship by Turkish journalist and author Ece Temelkuran to see how precarious and fragile our modern society really is.

Where there are anomalies to this, is where corporates and multinationals align to benefit from the halo effect of the people who are making a positive impact, are seen as leaders and have pulling power, in the room and beyond. Derval O'Rourke posed the following question on Twitter last week.


'With international Women's Day approaching there are lots of companies planning guest speakers or panel discussions. Surely paying the speakers or panel members is a basic part of that?! Otherwise you're asking women to work for free often on the topic of empowerment. Thoughts?'

We must place value on ourselves, are voices our experience and our impact.

No - it won't be great exposure.

No - it wont be great for my profile.

No - it wont be a great networking opportunity.

It will be an event where everyone in the room from the host company will be getting paid and everyone speaking for free will not. It will be an event where the host company basks in the glow of positivity of others and supports their own profit making ability without recognising the worth of others. It's just not good enough. Any campaign, strategy or initiative delivered on a 'cost neutral' basis is not being truly valued or prioritised and therefore falls into the category of window dressing. Why would we lend our valuable time to that.


'Feminism has never been about getting a job for one woman. It's about making life more fair for women everywhere. It's not about a piece of the existing pie; there are too many of us for that. It's about baking a new pie.'

IWD is indeed a wonderful opportunity to advance equality for women, and get elbow deep in baking a new cake for men and women and for a better society for all.

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