I recently found out that a man sitting next to me in the office, who reports to me directly, is being paid £20,000 more than I earn annually. It might sound crass, but my reaction to this news has materialised as the five stages of grief. Grief, quite possibly, for my withering sense of self-worth.
At first comes denial. Surely this is a misunderstanding. Though we have our differences, my media mogul managers and I share a fundamental passion for progressiveness and – do I even have to say it? – an aversion to blatant discrimination. The organisation is meant to be famous for it.
Then anger strikes. It’s raw and blinding. I’d heard stories about such cases – reported them to death, in fact – but never had I felt so ridiculed. I’ve just had a baby. I’ve been negotiating my return to work. My desk neighbour is undeniably excellent at his job. He’s an ambitious and diligent employee with admittedly a few more years of experience than me. He’s a leader in his field, but when hired, I was deemed senior enough – amply mature, responsible and talented – to commission him, edit him and perform all the other far more mundane tasks of management.
Perhaps on account of his stellar reputation within the industry, a pay gap is justified, but the sheer size of this particular chasm has burned my ego to a crisp.
If you’re in the business of managing talent then it’s common enough for real talent to be paid more than the management. Those who commission and subedit Polly, Simon Jenkins, Boris, Michael Gove even, are going to be paid less than they are. That’s just the way it works. Football managers are often paid less than their star players.
That’s just the way it works in talent businesses, those with it get more. Nowt to do with gender. Although this crisis this lack of knowledge on your part seems to have pushed you into might have something to do with gender.