I was asked to write a blog. For free. For a profit making company specialising in equality and diversity. This is how I replied…

Dear E,

Thanks for your reply. 

As a company dedicated to diversity and inclusion, you will understand that asking for people to work for free in exchange for “exposure” is exploitation. By failing to set aside a budget for this project, you are perpetuating the inequality that the only people who can take part in this project are people who can afford to or those who are desperate. 

As someone who has already done thousands of hours of voluntary work and study for free in order to become an expert in my field, it is galling that you should seek to boost your own reputation by including experts without offering anything in return. Your twitter following is smaller than mine, your instagram following is smaller than mine, your platforms offer me nothing in the way of exposure. Even if they did, the fact that you expect me to do this work for you, for free, only suggests that you do not value my expertise and do not consider them worth paying for. 

As a company that is dedicated to diversity and inclusion seeking to hear my thoughts about inclusion of women in the workplace you will already have a comprehensive understanding of the unpaid labour – domestic and care – that is a key barrier to women’s participation. We expect women to do this work for free, but do not value this contribution economically. We have an economic system built to discourage the participation of people who undertake unpaid labour of any form yet we punish them for failing to take on jobs whilst performing this work. It is of course then an extra level of irony that you would like me, a woman, to do some unpaid labour for you about the very fact that women’s unpaid labour is a key reason for their economic disadvantage.

I suggest you as company think very very hard before approaching anyone else, before continuing your exploitative offer and before slamming your reputation in the equality and diversity field.

Yours sincerely,

Polly 

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