Grazia is one of my guilty pleasures. It makes me very, very guilty – how I can possibly complain about the press when I look at paparazzi photos – and gives me a great deal of pleasure – Polly Vernon, alone, is worth the price of admission, as they say.
But Grazia is doing one thing that leaves me completely guilt free. That gives me huge amounts of pleasure. That makes me down right proud. Their work on the gender pay gap.
Maybe it’s a Southern thing, I don’t know, but I was always taught that ‘we don’t talk about money’. That talking about money is ‘crass’, ‘tacky’, ‘in bad taste’.
Or maybe it’s just a way to ensure people stay in their place.
I’m not a fan of amassing huge personal fortunes. I think it’s selfish and greedy, and I’m never quite sure what the point is . . . so you can have a huge pile of dosh when you die? So you can leave it to friends and relatives who probably would have enjoyed it much more if they could have shared it with you? So you can have a building named after you somewhere?
Anyway. I digress. . . .
I’m not a fan of huge personal fortunes. But I am a fan of paying people a fair and decent wage. All people. Every single one.
Fair and decent.
Fair means that if my colleague, who does the same job, happens to have a penis, and I do not, his penis does not entitle him to a higher grade on the pay scale. That’s it. It’s that simple.
But, in my experience, the work world does not make it that simple.
You see, the work world likes to suggest that certain jobs are more important that other jobs. And, funny this, when those jobs are seen as ‘men’s jobs’, they tend to be very important. When women start to move into that field, though, the jobs become much less important – and much less worthy of financial recognition.
Sales. Vitally important to the success of an organization.
Marketing. Faffing about with events and images.
Strategy. Can’t survive without it.
PR & Comms. Faffing about with powerpoint and flirting with journos.
And, even in the ‘female’ roles, I often see men at the top – in the decision making roles. Those roles are, of course, so much more valuable and come with so much more responsibility that they would obviously garner higher pay packages.
One of the last jobs I had was as head of a marketing and comms teams. I was a VP and there was constant discussion that the role should be ‘bumped up’ to director level. This was not done for me – lots of reasons, I’m told. ‘Of course, everyone views you as a director already’, I was told. Viewed me as, just didn’t recognize or pay me as. . . .
It was also not done for my successor, another woman.
Interestingly, though, after she left, a man was hired.
He’s a director.
And I can only assume that the CEO no longer refers to the team as ‘the ladies in marketing’.
Was I paid less than men with the same level of responsibility?
I’ve no doubt about it.
Did I have the same opportunities for advancement?
Was this because I am a woman?
Short answer yes. It was also because I’m an outspoken woman. I noted that it was sexist to refer to the team as ‘the ladies in marketing’. I noted that if I was to attend the directors’ meeting I should also be a director. I noted that when I did attend the directors’ meeting, I was worried to see 20 men and 3 women (one of those, of course, not even really a director). (This, of course, could set me off ‘a whole nother’ rant about punishing women who speak up, but I’ll save that for another day. . . .)
It is also, though, because throughout my career I had been steered towards ‘women’s roles’. I received less than no career guidance in high school – I’m not sure anyone even asked what I wanted to do with my life – and I didn’t receive much more in college.
When I entered the real world, I was pretty clueless. Which meant I got pushed towards ‘women’s jobs’.
And employers have found ways to pay less for these jobs. And to pay women less when they fill these roles.
So, am I a fan of salary transparency?
You better believe it. I don’t care if it’s not Southern, if it’s crass, if it’s in bad taste, it it’s tacky. Talk about it. Share it. Force pay tables. Know what you’re worth and demand you’re paid it.
Even more, though, I’m in favour getting over this bullshit notion that some roles are ‘female’. I am sick of seeing women sweat it out and get paid less for it, while men sit in offices and have management roles and are decision makers.
Fair and decent.
It’s actually not that much to ask for.