Wow, hello hate mail!
Because of my posts about being a nonprofit wage slave, and being unable to make rent on a nonprofit “salary”, someone took issue with this. Actually, more than one person did, and I’m glad about it. I got a reader email saying,
“I HATE YOUR PITY PARTY! IF YOU DON’T LIKE HOW YOU’RE PAID IN NONPROFITS THEN GET OUT!”
And some other, less choice words.
And well, shoot man.
What are people who want to change the world supposed to do? Some of us are best suited to being social workers. Some of us are best suited to being therapists. Some of us are best suited to being bus drivers or nonprofit office managers. We still deserve a higher wage. I will show you why.
Here’s my question for you.
Why should people in the nonprofit sector make less than every other sector?
Rick Cohen on Blue Avocado says, “It’s official, we’re paid less than any other sector.”
The fact is man, wages haven’t risen since the 1970s in most sectors.
That means MOST people, not just nonprofits, are getting the short end of the stick. Especially women. Especially women of color. So even if we “get out of the sector” it is not much better out there than in here.
And people from every economic strata, such as doctors, nurses, air traffic controllers, hotel maids, pepsi truck drivers, are getting shafted. Here’s a post I did about how no sector is safe. Using data and detailed economic research and in-depth investigative journalism from Mother Jones. One of the top progressive nonprofit news sources in the US.
Starting your own business is not the answer.
You ended with a “start your own business” rant and frankly, that’s not a reality for most people. We shouldn’t have to start our own businesses to make a living wage. Not everyone is suited to being an entrepreneur.
America is also not one of the best places to start a business, contrary to popular myth. The best places? New Zealand. Canada. Australia. According to DoingBusiness.com, the US is ranked 13th in ease of starting a business.
Maybe next time you criticize someone wanting to help people get paid more, you should do your own research into this issue. It’s easy for you, as an english-speaking white man with a cushy job at a foundation in America with many resources to get started as an entrepreneur.
Have you ever stopped to consider what the barriers are for a black woman with two kids? A single mom of any color? What about a black man coming out of the judicial system? What about a hispanic man who may not speak English?
Income equality will help EVERYONE’s standard of living rise. And that IS worth fighting for.
We need to speak for those who need our support to get pay parity. Income equality. Equal treatment no matter what the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, how long they’ve been unemployed, or how many children they have or are planning to have. Maybe you’ve never experienced this discrimination personally, but let me tell you, it’s out there.
In a truly equal society, as argued in “The Spirit Level, Why Equality is Better for Everyone,” by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett, say:
Since we finished writing The Spirit Level in the spring of 2008, there have been many more studies reporting relationships between inequality and health. Nine of the new studies look specifically at rich, developed countries. Seven find, as we do, that health is worse in more unequal societies.
“There is now evidence that inequality played a central causal role in the financial crashes of 1929 and of 2008. We suggested that inequality leads to increases in debt. It turns out that they are intimately related.” For more details, check out this article.
So if you think that it doesn’t matter that people at nonprofits don’t make enough money, then you’re basically saying that you don’t care that people who want to make the world better are less healthy, and that we have more giant financial crashes.
From the same article above:
“In his first major speech as leader of the Labour Party (in the UK), Ed Miliband said: “I do believe this country is too unequal and the gap between rich and poor doesn’t just harm the poor, it harms us all . . .””
Let me just clarify this once and for all.
THIS IS NOT A PITY PARTY.
I’m here to call attention to disparities. I’m here to be a cultural critic. I’m here to help people think about how they want to change their worlds, their nonprofits, their lives.
My prescription for positive change? Unionize. Organize. Get clear about what you want to change and then change it. I’m not going to change it for you. But I’m not going to pretend that business as usual is just fine with me.
Wake up man! This is NOT a meritocracy.
And this is not a pity party. This is a call to action.
Do you understand me now?
You can tell the pioneers, because they’re the ones with arrows all over their chests.
I’m happy to stand beside Dan Pallotta, a white man who writes for the Harvard Business Review, and author of “Uncharitable” and agitate for a stronger nonprofit sector, to agitate for everyone who is getting underpaid at nonprofits right now. To agitate for better pay and better treatment for everyone. If that means unions, then so be it. If there’s another way, I’d be open to hearing what it is.
I’m happy to speak up. And I hope if you feel the same way, you’ll leave a comment, email me, or say hi on Twitter.