I don’t attend conferences where speakers don’t get paid

By Laura Bergells on

I give up. Starting today, on #EqualPayDay — I won’t pay to go to business conferences where speakers don’t get paid.

The conference organizers will pay for the room and the food. But they won’t pay speakers for crafting and delivering content? The conference venue makes money — but the speakers don’t?

It makes no sense to me. But, still, I’ll hear unpaid speakers say,

“No, wait. I get paid. I get paid with exposure, experience, and connections.”

Goody for them. These privileged people don’t need actual money. They don’t value their content. So they’re leveraging their privilege to gain even more privilege. In so doing, they’re blocking  a more valuable perspective from ever reaching the audience.

I don’t want a privileged person to take a job from someone who needs money. And who could use those valuable connections. And who actually has something rare to tell me.

Why would I support a privileged person taking a job from someone who cannot afford to speak for free?  By taking an unpaid engagement, the privileged person silences the voices of people I want to hear from the most.

People with something valuable to say are worth more than the crudites or coffee. If conferences won’t give speakers that respect, I will.

Starting today, I’ll ask if speakers are getting paid. If they aren’t, I’ll ask if the venue or organizers are getting paid. If the venue is donating the space — I’ll consider going.

But if the venue is getting paid and the speakers aren’t? Pass. I won’t support it.

Follow the money. Who’s making bank on unpaid labor?

Leave a Reply