As this week is the anniversary of the suffragettes’ victory in gaining votes for women, I thought it would be good to segue into my own story of less than equal pay for better work!
A few years ago I was working in Germany as a recruitment headhunter.
And it was hard work.
We were measured very closely on how many placements (“heads”) we managed to sell to clients.
There were 5 of us in the team, and we compared stats every week.
We got to the end of the year and all received payrises.
And, being awful employees, we promptly discussed with each other what they were.
Imagine my indignation when I discovered that the two males in the group had had bigger pay rises than I had.
Olly had placed 5 heads less than me.
Mike had placed 1 head less than me.
So I, in my innocence, stormed off to see my boss, Alfred, to ask why the difference in pay rises.
“Mike placed more than you”.
I pointed out that this was not the case.
“Well, he has a fiancé and is getting married this year and will need some more money.”
So I moved on to Olly and asked the same question.
“Well he is married and his wife is expecting their first child, so they will need the money even more than Mike does”!
And that was that.
I may have said “But that’s not fair!” and my boss, in his infinite wisdom said, “Well Carolyne, you know what you can do if you don’t like it…get another job!”.
And as he said it he smiled complacently as if I had no chance of doing that.
“Furious” does not cover how I felt after that.
But I’m not one just to get angry, I get even (to borrow a phrase!).
So it was with extreme enjoyment – a month later – that I went back to Alfred and said, “I’ve taken your advice”.
He looked at me blankly, obviously not remembering what he had said.
“I’ve found a new job and I am giving my month’s notice. Thank you for your advice!”, promptly walking out of the room straight afterwards.
The look on his face was absolutely priceless!
So having experienced blatant misogyny and arrogance at first hand, I really do understand the issues that we are still fighting with today.
And it is something that we always pay attention to when helping our clients, to make sure that there is fairness in pay and treatment.
Clearly there’s a spotlight on pay disparity right now, and – quite rightly – it’ll just continue to get brighter – my advice is to make sure it doesn’t shine unfavourably on you.