Equality of Opportunity

English: United Kingdom's Deputy Prime Minster...
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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has come up with a scheme to help open up top careers to people from less privileged backgrounds. He’s arguing that getting on the ladder in many professions is more a case of who you or your parents know rather than ability, suitability and educational achievements.

I think that part of what Clegg is trying to do may be driven by what this case from last year exposed where:

According to the Mail on Sunday, however, 900 Tory supporters paid a minimum of £400 per head to attend its Black and White Party, formerly known as the Winter Ball, at which an auction of 30 lots took place, including a number of internships. Millionaire backers paid an average of £3,000 each to ensure that their children had a chance to undertake work experience at the companies involved.

Read more: http://www.hrzone.co.uk/topic/business-lifestyle/conservatives-under-fire-internship-auctions/109607#ixzz1jESf38QV

It strikes a chord with me as I have witnessed my youngest son get turned down for internships and summer placements from bank after bank after bank. This was in despite of his impeccable character and his fantastic academic achievements through the first two years of his mathematics degree at a university renowned for mathematics. The thought of nepotism and cronyism was always lurking at the back of my mind but I feel it’s been confirmed.

It’s ended well for him though as he has secured a contract with a local firm including further training and education to obtain a professional standing which will see him well for the future.

I do hope that what Clegg is attempting isn’t just a token piece of electioneering, this country desperately needs to embrace equality of opportunity.

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Women Have Never Had It So Good

Marks and SpencersImage by James F Clay via Flickr

Well, at least that’s the claim of ‘Sir’ Stuart Rose the chairman of Marks and Spencer. And he should know as I’m sure that M&S has more female employees than male. You should read the rest of the article on the BBC website, makes for interesting reading. As does the attitude that comes across as condescending and patronising.

It’s been 40 years since the Equal Pay Act was meant to close the gender pay gap and hopefully the opportunity gap. It’s been 21 years since Julie Hayward won her historic victory to cement the concept of equal pay for work of equal value.

So the difference in pay between genders, the glass ceiling and the opportunities available across the board have all been dealt with? No, not really. We still have a 23% difference in pay, we still have the glass ceiling although it’s probably shifted up a floor or two and I feel that opportunities are still limited.

Working as a man in industry I see an equality growing, or that’s been allowed to grow, and in my industry I discern what I hope would be a more level playing field.

What does need to change is the male dominated senior management. Not change exactly as there’s a few of them who will never change, but we still need to get more female representation into upper management and onto the board.

Another thing that still has to change is the testosterone fuelled atmosphere in the workplace. That’s best done by ensuring a good gender representation in employment, making sure that sexism is firmly kicked into boot and also legislating and educating women that they don’t have to become part of the ‘macho’ atmosphere that pervades much of the workplace in order to progress.

And Harriet Harman‘s latest legislation, the Equalities Bill regarding pay audits and more that’s getting the establishment squealing is most welcome although perhaps it’s being introduced too slowly.

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