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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Unequal pay for equal work

The year is 2015. In this year people rely on sixth generation smartphones; wearable communication devices, self-drive cars that can even race themselves, and worldwide connections at the touch of a button. In other words, we are living in a smart,connected world, but those of us who live in the leading edge nations continue to do some really stupid things. There are many practices that have been carried over from the darker ages of our ignorance. Today, I focus on only one that is long overdue for radical change because there is no logical reason why it remains solidly in place.

Approximately 55 years ago I recall having a conversation in a sports club with a man who was the personnel officer of the electrical monopolyin my country. He said that he was receiving a constant stream of applications from females who wanted to do man's work as linesman, etc. To his mind this was an unhealthly trend where women no longer seemed to know their place.

I said that I thought it was probably driven by the need for such women to earn a realistic wage to look after their children that had been fathered by men who had moved on without financially looking after them.

That was 55 years ago, at a time when we didn't even have a jail for females in my country who society thought incapable of committing crimes. Times have changed drastically. Now women have shown that they are capable of  working alongside men in every way. They also make capable world leaders, but yet their compensation packages are routinely set below those paid to men. Why?

White men seem to think that the role of captain of industry is a role reserved for them. A white man will more likely receive the support of his bank than anyone else. That propels him into the managing director's seat, and from there he gets to make decisions that affect a lot of people's lives. One of those decisions is that he should pay other white men more in compensation than any other staff members because that props up the myth of white male superiorty. He sees a woman's place as being in the home. She should have a husband who is the head of family, and the principal breadwinner, so if she insists on working she only needs enough of an income to assist him.

In 2015, the truth of the matter is that in many societies we humans decide whether we even want to go the family route. We are independent thinkers and decide for ourselves what lifestyle we want. Our private lives are our own. Our professional lives are another matter. If a woman brings equal skills to the table then surely she should be paid the scale equal to a man for that skillset. A company that imposes other social related considerations upon her that are antiquated is itself a fossil. It also hurts its own bottom line because if you can get the level of work required for a lower compensation, why on earth would you pay more?

We probably all make the mistake of thinking that the boardroom is a place where serious, advanced, and adult thinking takes place. Not necessarily! Maybe it will take the old farts departure into retirement and the grave before more modern thinking can prevail.

 It would be wonderful if such modern and sensible thinking came from a woman CEO!

Copyright (c) 2015   Eugene Carmichael