Move Over, Guys, and Make Room

Making an early morning cuppa, I heard on Radio 4 that Oxfam have announced that 1% of the world’s population have as much wealth as the other 99%. I also heard that, whereas 80% of teachers are women, 80% of head teachers are men. Finally, I had an interesting conversation with a friend at a party on Saturday about how women can be treated within organisations, largely, it would appear, from the men in these bodies either being unaware of or unwilling to do anything about it. And, before, anyone says that “that’s just the way it is” or “things take time to change”. The answer to both has to be that it doesn’t need to be that way. Indeed, the evidence is that the situation is getting worse and not better. Except for those wealthy people, of course. Interestingly, of the reported world’s ten wealthiest people, eight are men.

Oxfam calls on governments to take action to reverse this trend and would like workers to be paid a living wage and the gap with executive rewards to be narrowed. It also calls for an end to the gender pay gap, compensation for unpaid care and the promotion of equal land and inheritance rights for women. Finally, it is worth noting that, in this country, over 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed, a gap still exists between men and women’s pay for similar work. Do genitalia really make that much difference? Unfortunately, it seems that they do.

This situation is also not merely an academic exercise. Readers (yes, there are some) of my first book, “The Real Big Society and My Part In It”, will read of a report of 2007, “Women on Boards” that women made up only 12.5% of the boards of FTSE 100 companies. Women, in case you should need reminding, outnumber men in the population of England and Wales. The report also cites research that shows strong stock market growth and higher returns in sales and capital investment among European companies where there is a higher proportion of women in senior management teams. It seems that a critical mass of 30% of women in these positions or in board rooms produces the best financial results.

So, move over, guys, and make room. It seems that, if you do, we’ll all be better off.

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