A recent survey from the Chartered Management Institute shows that female executives earn an average of £400,o00 less than their male colleagues over their working lifetimes. As a feminist, just how bothered about this should I be? After all, it’s a minority issue, focusing on a privileged group. Aren’t there more important things to deal with? The truth is, I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about executive pay, male or female, what with two kids, a non-exec beta-female job and being fairly busy.

In this respect I am a bit – but not a lot – like Angela Ahrendts, the female chief executive of Burberry. Ahrendts doesn’t think about the pay gap much, either:

I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about this, what with three kids, running the company and being flat out busy.

Speaking as a low-level, non-aspirational version of Ahrendts – fewer kids, lower earnings, less go-getting-ness in general – I can see what she means. Giving a shit about stuff isn’t just time-consuming, it’s also seriously uncool. And besides, does it really matter? Once you’ve earned your million, do you really miss that extra £400,000? (Not having earned my million, I wouldn’t know. But I suspect that women who are openly arsed about the extra £400,000 are less likely to earn the million in the first place.) (more…)

Dear ‘Wealth Creators’

You know when you got bullied at school and went home in tears? Well, actually you probably don’t, since most of you will have been boarding at Eton. But anyhow, let’s imagine you do. When that happens, do you know what mums always say? They’re just jealous. That’s right. They’re just jealous. Whenever anyone upsets their kids, mums always decide that the perpetrator just has to be seething with envy. After all, what else could it be? (more…)

The staff in my local Sainsbury’s are friendly and courteous enough. All the same, it’s not as though I keep a record of how many smiles they give me, or whether or not they’ve used a sufficiently welcoming tone when asking for my Nectar card. The fact is, I don’t have to because someone else – their managers, I presume – are doing this on behalf of customers like me. Right now the shelf-stackers are 100% me-friendly whereas the checkout staff – rude bastards – only come in at 83%.  I know this because it’s on a sheet of A4, laminated and propped up right in front of every checkout worker, alongside a list of values they need to project and behaviours they must adopt (summary: smile till your face aches, then smile just that little bit more). (more…)

I work in a role that requires me to get other people to do stuff for me. One of the ways in which I manage to do this is by offering to pay said people money. It’s not the only way, which is just as well, since usually they’d like to be paid more and I’d like to pay them more. But I can’t. I can only pay them if I get the investment approved, and I can’t get the investment approved if I’m offering to pay them too much. Still, we usually get by. And if not, we can the project because it’s a rubbish project and the business model’s clearly not working.

I’d probably get more projects approved if I didn’t include this “paying people” lark. I mean, I’m not sure how I’d actually get them done after that. I suppose I’d have to drag someone in off the streets. Maybe someone who was desperate. Perhaps someone who’d been out of work for a long time. I’d say “this’ll get you back into the ‘work routine’ and look good on your CV!” And then I’d tell them that actually, I was paying them something, because I’d be giving them their briefs for free and these briefs don’t write themselves.

This, in essence, is the business / moral argument adopted by Close Protection UK, who used unpaid labour for the stewardship of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations:

The company said it had spent up to £220 on sponsoring security training licences for each participant and that boots and combat trousers cost more than £100.

Oh, well that’s okay, then. Except it sodding well isn’t. If you can’t afford to cover your costs AND to pay people, then your business is shit.

We’ve known for a long time that globalisation has meant businesses thrive on paying somebody, somewhere, next to nothing. But usually this “next to nothing” is at least something. This is something else. My partner commented that it’s like McDonald’s stealing all their ingredients and then, when found out, saying “well, these restaurants, they’re expensive to run” (my partner used to work in McDonald’s. They do many things, but as far as I know, they don’t do that).

Anyhow, if this is the way we’re now running businesses, I am way behind the times. And I’d rather stay there. At least it requires some intelligence, ingenuity, and basic moral standards.

 

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