The Good The Bad And The Ugly



You can learn a lot about the reaction to the gender pay gap from westerns.

In most western movies, the plot revolves around the quest to right wrongs. Sheriff’s, Marshalls, members of posses and lone gunslingers set out to avenge a wrongful death, protect ranchers from rustlers or just get even.

Exposing the gender pay gap is also about righting a wrong. The tricky thing is, the reaction to it could end up legalising prejudice and discrimination.

In Britain, more than 10,000 big firms had to report what men and women get paid because of new legislation.

Some people have looked at the numbers and concluded that three-quarters of these companies are paying men more than women. That’s a dangerous thing to do without working out what’s going on here.

We all know that overall, men hold more senior positions at British companies than women, so when you look at what a company pays men, versus women, the numbers will be skewed towards men. We need to look at why more women don’t hold senior positions.

If women are being paid less than men for doing the same job, then that needs to be looked at because it’s wrong. Is that what’s going on here though?

My worry is that the release of these figures will lead to calls for quotas. I know of one large organization that, right now, has targets for the percentage of women it will employ in key positions in the next couple of years. They’ve also got targets for people who are from ethnic backgrounds, LGBT and people with disabilities. That means that if you don’t fit into one of these categories, you’ll miss out on a job until that quota has been met, even if you’re better qualified and have more experience than any of the other candidates.

Everybody can be identified as belonging to a particular group and that group might be under-represented in the business you happen to be in. We need to find evidence that proves you were discriminated against purely because you belong to that group.

I belong to a group that is hardly represented at all in the industry I work in which is broadcasting. I am non-university educated working class. I left school at 16, and after a failed apprenticeship and then a job cleaning power tools and cement mixers for a plant hire firm, I ended up working on an oil refinery construction site as a pipefitter and eventually as an air conditioning engineer. The first time I worked in an office was when I was hired to present the Breakfast Show at my first radio station.

That first radio job was in Australia, so I belonged to another under-represented group in Australian radio, I was a Pom. In a way, that helped me. I knew that to get a radio job, I had to be better and work harder than all of the Australians with university degrees that were going for the same job.

Now I could miss out just because I’m not female, black, gay or disabled, that is discrimination. If the reason you don’t get a job is just because of your skin colour, gender, sexual orientation or physical ability, that’s against the law isn’t it?

Yes, there should be more women, black, minority ethnic, LGBT and people with disabilities represented in key positions in Britains companies and the people you see and hear in the media should represent a more diverse Britain. Quotas won’t fix the problem, they’ll just hide it.

So, why is the reaction to the gender pay gap like a western? Well, it’s about what a quota will do. When a Hollywood movie studio builds a set in the middle of a desert to shoot scenes set in a frontier town, there’s no real town there, it’s just shop fronts. It looks good on the screen but behind those wooden fronts, it’s still just a desert.

Craic on!

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One Response to “The Good The Bad And The Ugly”

  1. Posses, not posies. (Sorry) lol
    The reason for women not holding more senior positions could be simple evolution. Throughout history there have been strong, powerful and ambitious women. But they don’t tend to have large families. They are too busy being successful in their chosen field. So their strong, powerful and ambitious female genes are not passed on to the next generation of women. Submissive and passive girls on the other hand are good home makers. They make stable and loving families for strong, powerful and ambitious men who’s genes are passed on to the next generation, of men. If you multiply that combination many thousands of times, the women become more passive and submissive and the men become stronger and more powerful.

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