Content Writing

The cost of human intellect

Earlier in the week, I posted on LinkedIn about the sad loss of Leila Janah. In her short but brilliant career, Leila created an organization that makes us all think twice about the price we pay for human intellect.

I’ll let my LinkedIn post (copied below) speak for itself, but the bottom line for me at least is that if you outsource your legal writing, make sure you’re not just picking whoever is the cheapest.

For one, you’ll get crap content that does nothing but costs you more money and damages your brand. For another, you’re just treating people – humans, living creatures, people with souls and brains and ambitions – like nothing more than a low-and-rather-insignificant figure on your cost spreadsheet (or accounting software, if you’re sensible).

No-one wants to be hired simply because they are the cheapest.

LinkedIn Post (1 February 2020):

What a desperately sad loss for the world. Undoubtedly, Leila Janah touched the lives of so many by giving them an opportunity to do what most of us want to do – feel we are being fairly compensated for the work we are doing. But there’s something else going on here, too.

Janah has brought an unshakeable sense of self worth to an incalculable number of people in places like India and Africa, where foreign companies are open and unashamed about offering people work there not because their intellect is valued, but because their labor doesn’t cost very much.

I cannot think of a more effective way of crushing individualism and innovation than by treating humans as nothing more than a component of a bottom line.

If Janah’s work teaches us just one thing, it is that no one wants to feel that they are being hired simply because they are the cheapest. Human intellect is one of the most valuable things in the world no matter where the person comes from, and the narrative around outsourcing desperately needs to change to reflect that.

I’ve seen people write for less than $0.10 per word, less than $0.05 per word, and even less than $0.01 per word, and this constant race to the bottom is not good for anyone.

So, let’s think twice about to whom we are outsourcing, and why. There’s nothing wrong with trying to reduce labor costs or overhead, but let’s at least be ethical in how we do it.

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