THE BLOG

I Don't Believe in Equal Pay - Here's Why

13/04/2016 12:35

The World Economic Forum says that the gender pay gap won't close completely until 2133.

But recent events might change that. With the outcry following the tennis star Novak Djokovic saying that male players ought to be paid more (though he later apologized); Donald Trump's punishing comments about abortion (which he apparently 'misspoke'); and now with five members of the world champion US women's soccer team accusing US Soccer of wage discrimination - it seems that 117 years for equal pay is too long a wait for many.

Those who champion #equalpay say that the current disparity is a reflection of the wider inequality women experience around the world - and that's why it is so important. We pay more for what we value, and the charge is that society seems to value women less. If we really value women, they say, we should pay them the same. I don't buy it.

Women should be paid more than men. Yes, even for doing the same work. Pay them more. Here's why:

They can be trusted more

I wonder what proportion of the Panama Papers scandal involves alleged corruption by women? I'd say it's a safe bet it will be less than 50%. I'd be surprised if it was even in double digits. In the world of men, in particular white, rich men who control the majority of our economic and political systems, money and power is projected as the most valuable commodity and currency in society. This mindset naturally flows into greed, corruption, and breaking the rules at any cost to keep more for themselves.

When women are paid more, we all reap the benefits. As the head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde said, 'Empowering women is not just about fairness - it also has macroeconomic benefits. For example, eliminating employment gender gaps could boost GDP by 5% in the US, 9% in Japan, and 27% in India.' She stopped short of spelling out the effect of GDP if women were paid more than men, but you do the math.

The equal pay debate is not just about how much we earn, but what we spend our money on. We have enough money to solve world hunger and other global issues. But our (mostly male) politicians decide that spending on defence, for example, is a better use of resources.

Women have an innate compassion beyond us men, and because of this, I trust them more to use their money in ways that benefit us all. And this brings me on to the baby elephant in the room of the equal pay debate - and why we should pay women more.

They give birth

As much as Donald Trump and others would hate to admit it, all of us - yes all of us - come from women. Women have a special role in life's drama, which us men simply can't compete with. Most women put their careers, and in some parts of the world, their lives on the line to bring new life into this world. They often return to work part-time to juggle child-care duties and take years to claw back the salary and professional standing they were used to before children. Women should not be penalised for the most natural thing in life - having a child. From an evolutionary point of view, it's what they were born to do.

Instead, we should pay women more from the moment they start earning, to offset the loss of earnings and career that they would experience by having a baby.

Anyone who has been present with a woman throughout pregnancy, or been present for the birthing process, and witnessed the grace and beauty with which women carry themselves and their children, would not bemoan receiving less salary than their female counterparts. These are walking, talking superheroes who deserve more of our respect and gratitude. An inflated salary is the least we could do.

For those women who choose not to have children, or can not have children, I trust them more to use their increased salaries to better use than men.

As a society, we seem to patronize and pity our women in business and politics with a proverbial pat on the back - or the bottom. There are sinister, degrading forces at work that warp our perceptions of women, and it's time we tackle them.

Porn pushes women back

The pornography industry is a global phenomenon that receives too little attention in the equal pay debate, considering its pervasive impact on our culture. The industry is worth $97 billion, with over 4.4 billion page views per month. The overwhelming majority of porn objectifies women, metamorphosing them into things to be enjoyed, or even humiliated, beaten or raped. Porn is ubiquitous. Children are exposed to this, learning from a very young age that what it means to be a woman is to be used or abused by a man - and not to be taken seriously, never mind considered an equal.

Women should be paid more because they need all the resources and support they can get to weave a different narrative about the role of women into the fabric of society. Porn pushes women back and in a porno culture it is impossible for this not to seep into all aspects of society - from decisions about who to invite on to the company board, acts of domestic violence, and everyday sexism. An inflated pay for women would go some way to reflect that, as a society, we understand the impact that porn has, and don't subscribe to the values that it imposes on us - and equip our women with the financial resources to craft a different story.

And for those who think porn has nothing to do with the gender pay gap, consider why, in 2016, we still need to prove we are 18 to see an adult film at the movies, yet a third of 10 year olds have watched hardcore porn online. Porn is not to be under-estimated as innocent titillation or a reflection of some perverted form of freedom. It is a form of control. It is in the money men's best interests to teach us to think of women in this way - no wonder 12-17 year old boys are a key audience. If 50% of the world's population were seen as equals, to be respected, elevated and to do business with, the current systems - and those who control them - would surely crumble.

Of course, not all men hold these values. There are some at the top of the power structures who buck this trend - and it must really annoy those business and political elites who strive to keep things as they are.

But there are exceptions

The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, is a shining light with his gender equal cabinet and feminist message; President Obama and Bernie Sanders champion women's rights, and other leading men take a more enlightened view of women's role in society. In my own little way, when I gave away my £1m company Global Tolerance (to two ladies), in order to be a full-time father, I hope I have contributed to the gender debate.

Of course, all men are capable of compassion, sensitivity, and many of our greatest social, spiritual and moral leaders throughout history have been men. Unfortunately, in the current business and political arenas they seem to be the exception rather than the rule. And even when they are at the top, they are usually cogs in a system operated by men who are greedy for money and power. For the compassionate man to have any lasting influence, we need the whole system to change: in our businesses, governments, sports - in fact, all sections of society. We need the 99% to be advocating women rights, not the 1%. And to be a real movement, it needs to start with men. Men who know that elevating women by paying them more is not a threat to manhood, but an opportunity for all of us to progress.

What next?

Even with equal pay, women would still be at a huge disadvantage in our rich, white, male-dominated world, where porn lurks behind every screen, where women are punished for having children, and there are damningly few punishments for the bankers, politicians and others who openly use their inflated pockets and egos for their own self serving interests.

It's time the equal pay debate moved on. Let's pay women more than men. Then, just maybe, we will have more of a level playing field in our society. Maybe in a few decades time, when all of our political cabinets are like Canada's, and when our board rooms around the world are 50% women instead of 12%, and when our children are exposed to the grace and beauty of womenkind, and not their objectification - maybe then I will be up for #equalpay. Until then, let's #paywomenmore.

Comments

CONVERSATIONS