Every time there’s a major crisis in our world—hurricane, earthquake, terrorist attack, pandemic—I notice something really ugly happening online:
People immediately start shaming business owners for trying to sell their work.
“How dare you try to take people’s money…at a time like this?!”
Angry comments. Vicious DMs. Hateful emails pour in.
Not all business owners receive the same degree of shaming. The people who get pummeled with the most shame tend to be:
– People in the emotional health industry: counselors, therapists, life coaches. (“How dare you profit when people are emotionally vulnerable right now!”)
– People who provide services that are perceived as “luxuries” or “non-essential” services: like personal trainers, interior decorators, stylists, writers, artists. (“How dare you sell your frivolous services at a time like this!”)
– People who sell high-end offers: $1,000 and up. (“You’re a greedy monster. All of your services should be discounted 95% off right now.”)
– Women. Period.
Why do women entrepreneurs get shamed especially fiercely—while men don’t?
Because when times get tough, cultural conditioning tells us that a “good woman” is “supposed” to set her career aside. She’s supposed to focus exclusively on her family. She’s supposed and be selfless and give endlessly to others, no matter the cost, even if it depletes her financial and emotional reserves. She’s supposed to sacrifice excessively and suffer so that others can be comforted. She ought to hover by the stove and stir a pot of homemade soup while her big, strong husband goes out and handles financial matters. That’s what a “good woman” is “supposed” to do. And when a woman doesn’t behave this way…shame, shame, shame upon her.
My husband is a Commercial Real Estate Agent. He’s continuing to work from his isolated office and nobody is shaming him for doing so.
Meanwhile many of my female colleagues are being harassed for trying to sell their (very excellent, very needed) services.
Please check yourself before you post something ugly online.
Instead of shaming a business owner for trying to earn a living, say:
– “Thank you for continuing to show up and serve your clients.”
– “Thank you for setting a positive example, for being strong, and demonstrating grace under pressure.”
– “Thank you for sharing so many amazing resources (for free) and for selling your services, too. The world needs you and all that you do.”
– “Thank you for continuing to earn money so that you can pay your employees and other important people in your life.”
Remember that if a life coach (for example) stops earning money, that means she can’t pay her assistant…which means her assistant cancels her gym membership…which means the gym loses money…which means the gym receptionist gets laid off…which means the receptionist now has to choose between paying rent or buying groceries to feed her kids.
Every financial decision creates a ripple effect.
Be careful with your words and dollars. Instead of shaming someone for running their business, say, “thank you for doing your part to keep our economy steady and strong.”
If you notice a friend or relative shaming people online, FWD this email to them, and urge them to reconsider their position. (That’s a very polite way of saying, “Urge them to shut the hell up.”)
Post support instead of shame.
That’s how we’ll get through this together.
PS. Wondering how to keep your mind and business *strong* during this unusually challenging time? I have lots of free resources for you.
PPS. Yes ma’am, rest assured, I am continuing to sell my services and do business as usual. I am not scaling back right now. If anything, I am ramping up…so that I can pay my 10 employees who rely on their paycheck from me, give back generously to my community, and do my part to keep the economy rolling. In the weeks to come, you will see me doing my usual thing: releasing new podcast episodes, supporting my clients, marketing, teaching, writing, coaching, helping people to stay mentally, physically, and financially strong.
How will you *show up* and *serve* this week?