Unequal Ethos

, , , , | Working | September 12, 2017

(I have received a request for a pay rise from a relatively new employee. She cites the gender pay gap as a reason for her lower pay in comparison to a male employee [who, for whatever reason, decided to share his wages with her], and demands that we resolve it. I am also a woman.)

Me: “Your request has been denied for the time being. It has been decided that matters of pay inequality are not a contributing factor in your pay being unequal to [Male Employee].”

Employee: “And how did you come to that conclusion? It’s seems pretty obvious that the reason [Male Employee] is paid DOUBLE what I make is because I have a vagina.”

Me: “Firstly, he isn’t paid double; he is being paid 31% above what you earn. And to answer the question, he has worked here for nearly 20 years. The pay increase is proportional to that period of time. You, on the other hand, have only worked here for six weeks.”

Employee: *leaning in* “You don’t believe that do you? They’re pulling your leg.”

Me: “Who?”

Employee: “Your bosses.”

Me: “My bosses have nothing to do with this meeting, or the decision to deny your request.”

Employee: “Then you made the decision?”

Me: “Yes.”

Employee: “BUT YOU’RE A WOMAN, TOO! Do you want to them to treat us like dirt?”

Me: “[Employee], I have no doubt the gender gap exists elsewhere in the world; perhaps even in other areas of this company. In this department, however, it does not. I will not allow you to undermine 20 years of hard work and commitment just because [Male Employee] has a penis.”

Employee: “That’s UNREASONABLE! Are you accusing me of sexism? A woman?”

Me: “I’ll tell you what; let’s make a deal. Demonstrate that you have the same level of competence and commitment as [Male Employee], and I’ll reconsider.”

Employee: “Okay, what do I need to do?”

Me: “[Male Employee] has been working in [Department] long enough that he understands every aspect intimately, and covers for anyone who is on leave, with the exception of myself. I expect you to demonstrate this for one month. It is in no way a contractual obligation, but I expect you to work by his ethos. I will give you a month to get up to speed with the department. Then, the following month, you are expected to cover for anyone and everyone.”

Employee: “Well, there’s only five people in [department]; that doesn’t seem too hard. But that’s two months that I will be stuck at my current pay. I expect it to be backdated.”

Me: “Of course.”

(I wrote up a local agreement and we both signed it. She gave up one week into the two months. Literally during the process of learning what she needed to do, not actually covering, she gave up. I haven’t heard a peep about gender inequality since.)

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