What is a Man’s Perspective on Diversity?
29th January 2018
The short answer is, it depends on the man!
Opinion: Julien Mercille
In Ireland and elsewhere, a lot of men in positions of power and leadership are obviously not convinced that we should embrace diversity. This includes business leaders, politicians, and those in the media.
This may come across as counter intuitive, because we often hear from those people that they are all in favour of diversity, that they are trying to bring in more women and ethnic minorities into their enterprises, and that they have launched a strategy for equality.
Yet, they are not trying very hard, because there are still very obvious inequalities in society, which have been there for decades. Sure, some men in positions of power genuinely wish we had more diversity, but this is not the case for the majority – otherwise, we’d already have more diversity, since they are the decision makers.
Let’s focus our attention on women. There are many areas where improvements are necessary.
First, economics. There is an average gender pay gap of 16.3% in the European Union and 13.9% in Ireland. This means that among all men and women who work, women make 13.9% less per hour than men on average. For those who think this doesn’t sound that bad, consider this: it is the equivalent of women working seven weeks for free every year!
And the gender pay gap only compares men and women who work – _women who stay home to take care of kids, for example, are not included. Therefore it is a direct comparison of men and women in the workplace.
Why is there a gender pay gap? There are many reasons, including the facts that high-paying supervisory and mangement positions are mostly held by men; that men are promoted more often than women, which increases their pay; that only 4% of CEOs are women in Europe; that women spend more time than men on unpaid labour like household work and child care; and that there is still discrimination based on stereotypes.
But some see no problem with any of this and even blame women for their lower income! They allege that men make more money because they are “more charismatic”, “work harder”, and are “more driven”. In addition, they “get sick less frequently” and “seldom get pregnant”.
Those are the words of Kevin Myers, printed in his last column for the Sunday Times, before his departure! But by those standards, one could also say that gays, blacks and other minorities are not paid as much as white men, because gays are “less charismatic”, Latinos are “not driven”, and blacks “are too often pregnant”. But this makes no sense, just like Kevin Myers.
Myers wrote his column in the wake of the BBC revealing the list of its best paid presenters, among which only one woman could be found in the top-9. In Ireland, RTE’s own list shows only three women in the top-10.
These trends reflect those in the economy as a whole, where the richest are men. For example, in the UK, there are ten times more men than women who earn over one million pounds a year.
But salaries are only one side of the coin. The other side is the so-called “pink tax”. This refers to the fact that women are often charged more for equivalent consumer goods. My favorite example is hair cuts: women are systematically charged more for that service – often double – much more than whatever extra time it takes, if any, compared to gents cuts. Time your hair stylist next time you go to check it out!
Surveys of hundred of equivalent consumer goods have found that in the US for example, women face a 7% surcharge. For instance, a girl version of a toy will be 7% more expensive than the boy version.
But it’s not all about gender. Race is another important issue. For example, in the US, black women are paid 67% of the dollar earned by white men—and white women are paid 76%. So there’s a racial wage gap for women is 9 percentage points.
This article originally appeared in WMB’s recent annual print magazine.