How to Protect Your Children from Becoming Victims of Pay Equity

How to Protect Your Children from Becoming Victims of Pay Equity

When evaluating compensation, always remember that “market is a range,” and there is no single “right number” for how much a position or person should be compensated within the range. Although ranges can sometimes be wide, based on the level and complexity of the job, there is only one case where I have witnessed a range so egregiously wide and unreasonable it led me to, well, write this blog!


Yes, babysitters. When I ask new babysitters what their hourly rate is, they most often blush, get anxious, mumble a bit, and do not have an answer in mind. If they do have a response, it’s typically “I’m not sure… whatever you think,” or “it doesn’t matter.”

When I poll neighbors and friends about what the going rate is for babysitters, it spans from $3 per hour to more than $15 per hour. I cannot think of another job I ever encountered that has a range so wide. Nobody prepared or gave these babysitters the tools to evaluate and value their services, take pride in their work, and feel confident in their contribution and the associated compensation.

Nobody told them they are empowered to lead the discussion about pay.

I am frequently asked what I think contributes to pay equity issues, and my first response is that women don’t negotiate compensation as often or as effectively as men. The compound effect can be staggering over the span of someone’s career, and I couldn’t agree more with the suggestions in Charlotte Westerhaus-Renfrow’s article in the IBJ.

When it comes to your children, here are a few tips for how you can protect them from pay equity:

  • Get them thinking. Why do they want to babysit, why do they think they will be good at it, and how do they think they will be different than other babysitters? Are they going to simply keep the kids alive and text on their phone the entire time they are working or will they provide a meaningful and customized service?
  • Talk to them about it. Help them identify where they should be in the wide range of going rates for similar services. They should also understand that low performers are typically paid less, and they will likely get replaced by a higher performer if the cost does not reflect the value of their services. Kids are brutal at providing 360 degree feedback about babysitters.
  • Discuss how each babysitting job may be different and some opportunities may command higher pay. Does the family have an infant? Five kids? Will the kids be asleep or do you have to put them to bed? Do you have to make dinner?
  • Teach them to determine what their hourly rate is, how to look someone in the eyes and confidently tell them what it is, and how to answer questions if they get pushback.
  • Introduce the idea of incentive compensation to them for knocking it out of the park. Imagine if they left the house cleaner than when they arrived! Most would gladly pay a bonus for that outcome!

Spending time with your children discussing these topics will teach them an important lifelong lesson that you don’t have to be afraid to lead conversations about compensation and effectively communicate your value.

It likely has not escaped you that—for purposes of this blog—I am building off the stereotype that most babysitters are female. I realize this is not always the case. But if I did continue to build on stereotypes, I would also say: When in doubt, teach your girls how to do yardwork. Landscaping jobs seem to command higher pay, which just may be the topic of my next blog!

Categories: Compensation


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