One thing jumps out at me right away. They saw that testers are priced at the lowest rate on the team and they ASSUME this is also reflective of salaries in their company.
As a consultant, I work on projects and our sales team finds the client. When we are pitching a job, there will be a statement of who is needed on the team and how much they will get paid. The QA or testing position is usually the lowest paid position.
However, I know I’m paid a lot more than many developers. A junior developer might be making half my salary but the contract will say they ‘worth’ 1.4 times me.
When we staff a project we know what is needed to be successful and deliver. The people negotiating the contract aren’t looking at the details of who is on the team and how much they are getting paid. They are looking at who we wait on the project, how much do we make then create a bunch of roles and rates that work out to more than our combined salaries/costs. Bottom line, if it costs us $150,000/week to staff the project and we can get the client to pay us $175,000/week then it does not matter if the developer is overpaid and I’m underpaid (these are totally fictitious numbers). Getting the contract is more important to the contract negotiators than convincing the client that testers are more valuable.
In many cases, the client has testers (out-sourced or in-house) and they aren’t valued. I’ve met a number of testers who are just hands on keyboard and not very good at their job. If this is what a client things all testers are like, we’re not going to try to change their mind during contract negotiations. After I join and prove myself on the project THEN we can start talking to the client about why testers at my company are actually worth more.
Bottom line, whether your company values you and whether they are willing to convince a client you should be valued are two different things.
That said, it is easier said than done but some open and honest communications is needed. Why do the testers think they are second class citizens? If you are REALLY communicating with your company then you aren’t going to trust them. It is up to them to win your trust. But it is hard for them if you aren’t talking with them.
Does the company know you noticed they are under-valued during contract negotiation? Do you want them to value you? Or do you want them to make clients value you? One is a lot harder than the other. They have a business they need to keep running.
For me, my company makes me feel valued. At first, no client values me. In some cases, they never value me. My company knows me. I want them to value me and they do. Not all our clients value me but they value successful projects. I know I helped make the project successful even if the client does not. So knowing my company values me is all I really need.
By the way, we do regular 360 feedback with everyone on the project, we do health checks on the project (with the HR team), we have someone in HR and an office manager we can talk to if we need, we have a team of people, on each contract, making sure the team’s needs are being met. Most importantly, we talk honestly to one another.