I am a Human Resources freelancer carrying out similar work to that of the George Clooney character as depicted in Up in the Air. Its not my choice, there are a million and one other things I would prefer to be doing than ruining people's lives but I also have a living to earn and will put up with it until something else comes along.
One thing that struck me coming home from work yesterday after 'consulting' on pay cuts, with my heart in my boots after destroying yet another person's life (a woman), was that very rarely these days do I deliver those dreadful messages to males.
It then occurred to me that even though the banking crisis and subsequent recession was largely caused by men, it is actually women who are bearing the brunt of it. This is very much a woman's recession - a Shecession.
The harsh fact is that most of the people I have to make redundant, cut their hours or their salaries are women. I then got to thinking about my friends who have been and continue to be affected by this recession and was quite shocked when I realised that not one single one of my male friends has lost his job, had a salary cut or any form of negative payback due to this current economic climate - only my female friends!
I carried out a bit of a straw poll amongst my friends and none of them (male and female) could think of a single man who has lost his job or taken a salary cut either but they could name plenty of women. The last redundancy programme I carried out, one male was made redundant as opposed to five females in the same company. The forthcoming public sector cuts will heap even more misery on women as they are disproportionately affected by the cuts in that it will concentrate on lower and middle management grades i.e. EO and below. I am well placed to know this I carried out cuts there also!
"What is going on?" I asked myself, "women are as well qualified and hard working as their male counterparts?" The baby argument is defunct as most of my friends and I are single, in our late 30s and 40s and childless but yet we are paying the price in terms of this recession.
One reason could be is that women continue to be in much lesser paid jobs and status than their male counterparts. Another reason which could be closer to the truth than anyone realises, usually the harsh decision to cut costs are carried out by men and in my experience they are very reluctant to slash their own and other males especially the more senior they get. Men have very little respect for people who they perceive have lesser status roles than they have i.e. women.
Men love status and are status driven. Considering women are locked out of most boardrooms and Senior Management roles, we are not even given a voice much less a chance. As there is a very strong reinforced glass ceiling in operation it stands to reason that those at the bottom and middle i.e. women will bear the brunt of cuts more and we are. Again the results of my little poll bore this out and confirmed my own experiences, very few male bosses or managers have lost their jobs or suffered any adverse effects despite being responsible for making the cuts.
When you hold a senior position, you are very far removed from the reality of your employee's lives and struggles. Its easy slash a person's pay by 10% when they are on 100k but it very rarely happens (more men than women usually earn that much), it is even easier to slash a person's pay by 10% when they are on 20k, (after all its 'only' 2k), but the impact is that much greater and, you guessed it, it is usually women who suffer when those sorts of decisions are taken as we usually are on lower salaries.
The brutal irony is though that most HR departments are populated by women and they are the ones who have to carry out these terrible messages before switching off the final light switch themselves. Talk about shooting the messengers.
Those in the higher echelons (men) playing God with people's lives never deliver those messages themselves preferring usually to send out a heartfelt group email about how it affects us all, pulling together etc, before trousering the massive bonuses they give themselves and their mates for making the cuts in the first place without a bye or a leave of the human impact it will have. You see very little scientific thought goes into these things really, despite what these captains of industry would lead you to believe.
Now I am no feminist man-hater, quite the opposite. Many of us foolishly chased the dragon of a well paid and satisfying career. Instead we (females) find ourselves working in lower paid and status jobs, struggling with increasing job insecurity having believed the ridiculous notion that we could have it all. Well I've news for you - we haven't and right now even those lowly paid jobs are hanging in the balance, our voices remain silent and unheard.
This has well and truly become a Shecession.