On a day which began with a 2 hour train delay courtesy of London Midland that then allowed me the time (and very dubious 'pleasure') of reading Simon Goodleys excellent but equally infuriating Guardian article mentioned here I thought that I might be on for a particularly 'special' form of 'groundhog day'. After all there are only 2 things that are almost guaranteed if you are a female commuter in the UK, one being that you are highly likely to earn considerably less than your male colleagues employed in exactly the same job, the other being that you won't get through a whole week without at least one major train delay... OK that effects the men as well save for the fact that with the extra 10,000 per year they earn on average they are far more likely to get a seat on a train when it does eventually turn up as they can afford the first class supplement if needed.
However reading an interview with topical actress Louise Brealey in last nights Evening Standard (http://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/london-life/sherlocks-molly-the-original-cumberbitch-8293476.html) changed my day completely and not just for the timing of her comments. In fact it caused me to commit a sin nearly as heinous as daring to challenge a male boss as to why his fellow male employees earn more than the women doing the same job; I actually laughed out loud on a packed commuter train!! Admittedly it was tinged with a certain amount of irony as her comments regarding equal rights, Jimmy Saville and the fact that this country is STILL being run by the old boys network were priceless but also sadly very true. If only the remaining 50%+ of our population were free to publicly make such statements without fear of repercussions or being branded as militant feminist lesbians we may actually start making some progress over what should be a basic fundamental right of all workers in Europe. Perhaps we should nominate her to address the UK board of directors and the current government whilst she's there....
After all the Scandinavians managed to make more progress in this area decades ago than we have managed to date and it doesn't appear to have damaged their economies in the way that certain politicians like to lead us to believe with statements such as 'in the current economy it will be too expensive to implement the equal pay act.' Don't forget we are talking about an act that was supposedly introduced OVER 40 YEARS AGO here.
Whilst they still have a gender pay gap, the Finns have a 29% female board on their largest listed companies whilst the Norwegians have achieved 42% compared to the UK's paltry 16% (figures taken from the EU Commission stats 'Jan 12). Granted they also have work to do on the overall gender pay gap but when compared like for like rather than taking hourly wages as a whole it is still far better than in Good Old (Boys Network) Britain where, very ironically, the whole equal rights movement began.
Granted it's not just the fault of the men who still hold the vast majority of the power, as the frightening new generation of 'Wannabe Wags' who target marrying a footballer to pay for their fakery/surgical enhancements/designer shoes and Range Rovers rather than (god forbid) striving for their own independence or individuality from a very early age are not exactly helping. But the bottom line is that those in power have been carefully protecting their own for far too long. It is potentially effecting the livelihoods of literally millions of people not to mention limiting the potential of vast numbers of companies with the continuing exclusion of nearly 50% of possible executive level contribution and it needs to finally be addressed rather than being given countless newspaper headlines only to be brushed under the carpet decade after decade.
For all we know by including a larger percentage of the population in the business decision making process we may actually improve our economy rather than worsen it - now there's a thought for the armies of grey men in suits to contemplate whilst they are emailing demands to their PA's from the golf courses of Britain.
It doesn't seem to have done the Finns and the Norwegians any harm....