Last Tuesday I presented to the Style and Class meetup’s “Design Storytelling” themed event at the lovely office of Mobify in Vancouver, Canada. If you’ve read any of my other posts here on Medium you may recognize a few of the themes I’ve been trying to unpack. Most prominently I’ve been independently researching the state of workplace discrimination and the gender/ethnicity income gap in Canada.
Over the course of my career, I’ve observed a few negative nuances of the creative industry and grappled with the ways I could contribute to a better environment. My thoughts originally came out in a barrage of complaints about the status quo and I slowly realized that scattershot negativity isn’t helpful. It’s fine to be critical but what I’m seeking is a clear solution. For a long time I’ve believed that it was my job to take a back seat and support others that could inspire that change. That said, a solution is not appearing on it’s own and I think it’s time for serious intervention. I’ve realized that, when privileged individuals constantly deflect to others, it propagates a cycle of complacency and stagnation. I’ve concluded that we can only achieve genuine workplace equality if those who have the time, money, and power stand up and invest in their peers.
Now, I can’t admit that I have the solution. It’s complex but it doesn’t need to be. For instance, if outgoing TELUS CEO Darren Entwhistle had contributed 1/2 of his 2013 dividends, he could have ensured that each of TELUS’s 43,400 employees earned a living wage of $70,000 and still could have personally cleared three million dollars in earnings. Would that ever happen? No.
You may ask, “Why should this money come from the CEO’s pocket?”
My solution is simple. We need to see bold management before anything will change. It’s going to take a large group of visionary C-suites and board-members who value their employees over their own salaries. We simply cannot accept this skewed economy at face value. It’s unacceptable when an entry-level full time employee of a billon-dollar company earns a salary below the poverty line. No government is going to mandate this suggestion as law, but I think it’s time for Canadians to hold senior executives accountable for these bloated wages. AND it’s time for these stuffy boards comprised of mostly white men to step down and diversify their management… but that is a whole new lofty goal. Let’s use privilege to uplift those who do not have it.
For now, as a small business owner it is my choice to take a lower salary and pay my colleagues what they’re worth, regardless of who they are. It’s also my moral obligation to mentor those who ask for help and to provide resources for peers whether they ask or not. For now, I will continue to do this in the highest volume I possibly can and hope that it catches on.