A few gender pay comparisons

  1. Conservative Campaign headquarters reported that women’s median hourly rate is 15.7% higher than men’s, whilst the Labour Party recorded a median hourly rate for women 4% lower than men’s.
  2. The CBI reported that women’s median hourly rate is 15.1% lower than men’s, compared to Unite the Union’s gender gap of  29.6% lower in favour of men. The GMB’s Women’s median hourly rate is 32.4% lower than men’s and Unison’s women’s median hourly rate is 15.8% lower than men’s.
  3. The Royal College of Nursing has a median gender pay gap of 13.7% lower than men, whereas the General Medical Council has a median gap of  6.7% in favour of men. The Nursing and Midwifery Council has a women’s median hourly rate of 3.7% lower than men’s and the British Medical Association has a gap for women that is 13.6% lower than men’s.
  4. The Rugby Football Union reports that women’s median hourly rate is 6.6% lower than men’s, at the Football Association the women’s median hourly rate is 12.1% lower than men’s and the England and Wales Cricket Board has a Women’s median hourly rate which is 17% lower than men’s. At the Jockey Club, women’s median hourly rate is 23% higher than men’s.
  5. The Guardian News and Media has reported that women’s median hourly rate is 12.1% lower than men’s, The Times newspaper has a women’s median hourly rate is 12.7% lower than men’s. Associated Newspapers (home of the Daily Mail) has a Women’s median hourly rate is 15.4% lower than men’s, whereas at The Economist Women’s median hourly rate is 29.5% lower than men’s.
  6. The University of Cambridge has a gender pay gap where women’s median hourly rate is 15% lower than men’s, at the University of Oxford women’s median hourly rate is 13.7% lower than men’s. The University of Sunderland reports  that women’s median hourly rate is 20.9% lower than men’s, the gap at the University of Portsmouth is for women’s median hourly rate to be 23.3% lower than men’s.
  7. Bravissimo has a pay gap where women’s median hourly rate is 6.2% lower than men’s, Ann Summers has a women’s median hourly rate which is 21.6% lower than men’s. At Victoria’s Secret, women’s median hourly rate is 19.4% lower than men’s.

NB: The company median hourly pay gap for the UK is 9.8% in favour of men.

Toxic cultures and ticking time bombs

The strange thing about toxic cultures, is the inability of those within to see how bad things have really got. It normally takes an inflection point or disruptive external event to raise levels of awareness to the point of consciousness. Looking at the recent tribulations of the UK Labour party and the Australian cricket team, we can see perfect examples (in different ways) of the way that toxic cultures become all-encompassing in a blinding fog of self-delusion. We’ve seen similar situations play out in the banking sector and other industries, which I’ve written about before.

It raises the question whether there is anything that can be done to prevent the slow slip towards implosion, or if a turbulent outcome is inevitable. What can leaders do to intervene?

Recognise it starts small – recognising small behavioural changes and calling them out is crucial to preventing the situation getting worse. Tolerance to bad cultural epithets increases over time unless they’re nipped in the bud.

Don’t explain away – it is very easy to explain things away, even when they get to seemingly gargantuan proportions. We’re just highly competitive, we have an overarching will to win, others are just jealous, they’re trying to drag us down, we know the real truth. And yes, you probably do but you won’t admit it.

Listen and be willing to hear – There are people who know that things are going the wrong way, there is seldom a lone bad apple or renegade group. People see and know, they just need to be given permission to talk and leaders need to listen and hear. If people think you’re just paying lip service, they won’t bother to risk the wrath and the pain.

Define your values and stick to them – The corridors of corporate power are littered with mission statements, values and charters which no-one knows and no-one applies in business decisions. Values in business are important, but only when they come off the poster and enter the psyche.

Look outside in – Don’t be afraid to ask someone else to take a regular look at your culture, behaviours and ethics. In business we are used to having people look at our accounts, our data and reports, our supply chain and other areas of our operation. So why not culture? An annual health check, by an independent third-party would go along way to holding yourselves to account.

Sometimes people will fail

Here’s a thing; Not everyone can be successful in their job.

And that’s ok.

There are multiple reasons why failure happens, it can be the role, the requirements, the skills, the culture of the organisation, the leadership and management or just dumb luck. But we need to be ok with the fact that failure in role is real and normal. It is an inevitable factor of multiple people coming together to deliver an outcome or result.

I’ve worked in organisations with hire and fire cultures, they normally have little to do with performance and are more about dominant personalities, prejudice and conformity. Those that aren’t seen to “fit in” are rapidly shown the door, normally with some reference to, “not cutting it” or some other imprecise statement.

I’ve also worked in organisations where individual, persistent failure is normalised and accepted for far too long until a moment of  “truth” that often leads to a bloody and ugly end. Polite organisations which will tell individuals one thing, then moan to anyone who will listen behind their back.

Failure and underperformance can be the result of the individual or the organisation, it really doesn’t matter. The point is that it happens and dealing with it at the earliest possible moment is the best thing for all of the parties concerned. Nobody wants to come to work thinking that they’re doing a good job, but failing to meet requirements. Nobody wants to work with someone who is under delivering or performing. And nobody wants to manage or lead someone who simply doesn’t deliver.

Recognising and accepting failure is an important part of being able to deal with it in a mature, supportive and grown up way. When we avoid it, fail to recognise or accept it, we tend to want to make it disappear as quickly as possible – that’s why you have the cultures I’ve described above. Instead, what if we were to embrace it, to discuss it and to approach it as a natural facet of our human existence? How would that change the working live of the people in the organisations in which we exist?

Presence and state

We all know that how you show up in a certain situation or moment can change the impact that you have and the outcomes that you achieve. No more so than when you hold a leadership position.

My advice to leaders is always to think as much about how they are as what they are doing or saying. The impact of presence and state convey more than words, actions or intent will ever do.

Think of the manager, arms full of papers rushing from one meeting to next past their team who are up to their necks in work. Or the conversation when they’re “listening”, but there’s no-one home behind the eyes.

Our ability to control our state and to be present in the moment when people around us most need us is critical to being truly successful and effective as a leader. Using emotion effectively rather than letting it leak and making the moment more about us than others.

Of course, everyone is human and there will always be moments when we are down, distracted, angry or even simply unhappy. But there is a big difference from “having a moment”, to having a permanent state where we make ourselves the central point around which the emotional state of others should gravitate.

Making a conscious decision to be selfless in action is one of the biggest leadership skills and the higher up the organisation, the more self-control, discipline and focus is required. The closer to the sun you get, the larger shadow you cast. Each of us in our role as leaders would be well served to take a little more time to focus on our presence and state.