Mind the Gap (with transparency)

The #MeToo movement. A vast and saddening landscape of abuse, sexual harassment, sexual predators, rape… worse still because are any of us surprised that (mostly) men in positions of power have abused the same position that provides them the opportunity to do so? The list of grievances is as long as the perpetrators being exposed by brave women coming forward.

Possible (but not easy) for those in a position where income is not the most critical factor in deciding to come forward, to speak up. Unlike those reliant on their jobs (plural!), those less able to risk putting their head above the precipice.

It’s no coincidence that the #MeToo movement is being driven to the forefront by women from positions of authority, power and position. In its inception, the Suffragettes was women from upper- and middle-class backgrounds, frustrated by their social and economic situation.

A hashtag maketh a campaign it doth not. #MeToo is not a campaign, it is a movement. It is our Suffragette.

Not just sexual harassment, we’re now seeing the exposure of gender pay gaps.

CAVEAT: I have often employed creative talent; copywriters, designers, animators, programmers, producers… often women. It has never occurred to me to pay someone less or more because of their gender. I’ve never offered a person less than they were worth. If the first thing people think about is money and not being paid enough, you will lose them. I you pay people what they’re worth and (if you have the budget), a bit more. Regardless of gender. it’s about experience, skill and expertise.

The latest scalp to be publicly taken is the BBC. The BBC’s journalism cannot be trusted unless it is truthful about its gender pay gap, the corporation’s former China editor Carrie Gracie has rightly said. Gracie resigned from her post earlier this month over pay inequality at the BBC that has long since discriminated against women.

Last year UK newspapers revealed how much BBC's on-air stars get paid, though the salaries of their counterparts in commercial TV remain under wraps. Most notably, the pay gap between genders. This has lead to some male presenters taking voluntary pay cuts to support their female colleagues. This does not solve the issue, it vilifies women — totally counterproductive and avoids tackling that fundamental issue. A sticking plaster on a rotten, gapping wound. What is the solution? A pay rise for those under-paid? A nationwide cull of higher salaries?

Whatever the notions might be, I have a suggestion, not just to the BBC but for the Government, the UK as a whole.

Total Income Transparency, for all.

In Norway, there are no secrets. Anyone can find out how much anyone else is paid - and it rarely causes problems. The BBC even reported on this last year.

Not limited to Norway, each year Sweden, Finland also publish everyone’s income tax returns. In Sweden anyone can find out anyone’s salary with a quick phone call to the tax authorities. In Norway you can look anyone up online, even the Prime Minister.

When you pay tax you have to know that everyone else is doing it, and you have to know that the money is being spent reasonably. In the UK many of us pay higher rate tax and yet Council Tax increases year-on-year. Inflation rises beyond the cost of living, the NHS is in crisis, public services stripped of budgets by 30%, Police under staffed and struggling, the prison system privatised in to a state of disrepair. Yet we keep paying more and more tax. Theresa May reports that she cannot find a money tree to fund the NHS, but she found £1bn to pay off the DUP.

We must have trust and confidence in both the tax system and in the social security system. We can also use this transparency to finally reveal, once and for all, all those companies who do not support equality.

Only then can we hope to tackle payment inequality and gender pay gaps.

Like the idea? Me too.



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Steve Price

Design and brand consultant. Insight. Ideas. Creative director. Father. Brother. F1 fan. Dry Martini, stirred, with a twist. Owner of Plan-B Studio.