I explain an upcoming notice period to a male client.
Me: I will be going on maternity leave at the end of the year, and will be returning to work six months later. I’ll be able to fast-track all of our contracted projects before I go on leave, so you’ll experience a service outage of only about two months. I’ll also be open to prioritising any new project you need when I return.
Client: This is unacceptable! I have several more projects that need to be completed during those two months. It has to be you or there will be continuity problems! You need to come back from leave earlier. You’re going to make me lose money because we’ll put out the projects as soon as you finish them and there will be a long gap!
Me: Okay, well, why don’t you just hold the finished projects back until their original deadline?
Client: No! You’ve created this terrible situation! How are you going to fit in these extra projects? You need to do them on a faster schedule now!
Me: Unfortunately, as you didn’t offer me a contract for those upcoming projects ahead of time or let me know they would be needed, I couldn’t work it into my schedule. I could potentially fit in another project before I leave, but as it will mean disappointing another client, I’ll need contracts for the rest of the work in this project line before I can agree to that.
Client: And how can I be sure you won’t do this again?! No, don’t fit in any extra contracts. We’ll do a project as soon as you come back. You have to work on our project only for the first month to guarantee it gets done.
I sign the contract, mostly because I need to have guaranteed work to come back to, but it’s pretty clear from the rest of his emails the guy is not going to give me any more projects once this one is tied up. Which would be illegal discrimination if I wasn’t freelance, but there we are.
A short while later, I have to have a similar conversation with a female client. Only I can offer her much less because the male client has already demanded so much.
Me: I’m afraid I can only fit in one more project for you for the rest of the year. I’ll be going on maternity leave afterward and won’t be back to work for seven months. I’d be open to new projects when I return.
Client: Oh, congratulations! That’s great news for you. We’ll be in touch as soon as you’re back to work, we love working with you!
That was the whole email.
Sometimes people conform to stereotypes so hard it just makes you want to hit your head against the wall.