Friday, 20 August 2010

Mind the Gap (for the next 57 years)

Oh, the heady days of 1970!
  • Jimi Hendrix, The Who and Emerson Lake and Palmer at the Isle of White Festival
  • Simon and Garfunkel release Bridge over Troubled Water
  • Concord makes its first supersonic flight
  • Paul McCartney announces that the Beatles have disbanded
  • Onboard Apollo 13, Jim Swigert announces "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here"
How things have moved on.

Or have they? One of the other (apparently) life changing events of 1970 was the passing of the UK Equal Pay Act, which was intended to bring the pay of men and women into line. But it seems that working women who thought they might live to see Britain's pay gap finally close will have to hold out for another 57 years.

According to research published this week by the Chartered Management Institute, at the current rate of progress it will take until 2067 before the gap between men and women managers is eliminated.

Guardian: Equal pay for women not likely till 2067, says research

Women, it seems, have also been harder hit by the recession, with more female workers than men being made redundant in the past 12 months.

On a slightly more positive note, women's salaries increased by 2.8% over the past 12 months, compared with 2.3% for men. But with the average UK salary for a male manager currently £10,031 more than that of a female manager, women face a 57-year wait before their take-home pay is equal to that of their male colleagues. At senior level male pay still outstrips female pay by as much as a staggering 24% . Even at junior level the gap is significant, with male junior executives receiving £1,065 more than their female counterparts.

The CMI is calling for the government to "take greater steps to enforce pay equality by monitoring organisations more closely and naming and shaming those who fail to pay male and female staff fairly" But with only four women in the Cameron/Clegg coalition Cabinet, it's likely that the call will fall on deaf ears.

Incidentally, with women making up only 14% of the total in the coalition Cabinet, this means that Britain lags behind other European countries for the number of women in top political jobs. Spain has 53% women in its Cabinet, while Germany has 37% and France 33%.

So it looks as if the Chartered Management Institute's "Ambitious Women's Toolkit" might be needed in order to fix some of the issues that didn't disapppear when flares went out of fashion!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

We don't need no education ...

. . . Partly because it doesn't seem to do much for social mobility in the UK!

According to a report from the TUC published today, in Britain 50 per cent of a child's future earning potential is determined at birth, compared to less than 20 per cent in Canada, Australia, Denmark, Norway and Finland. This therefore means that the UK has the worst record on this front of any of the countries for which the the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has data, and means that the UK lags behind the US, Italy, France and Germany.

TUC: The social mobility challenge for Milburn's in-tray

Although there is a strong case for education playing an important part in transferring advantage and disadvantage from one generation to the next, the evidence shows that real improvements in social mobility will not be possible without making Britain a more equal society. The report specifically indicates that if you grow up in a better educated family, the chances are you will end up in a well-paid job, but if you're unfortunate enough to grow up in a a less-educated family, your wage levels are very likely to be significantly below average.

According to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber
A real programme to reduce inequality and enable social mobility would need higher taxes and fewer tax loopholes for the super-rich and a more highly skilled workforce, stronger unions and higher benefits.
So it looks as if the issue of excessively high pay for the UK's top earners is here to stay!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

(Don't) keep off the grass!

Who comes up with some of these ideas?

Seems that in a moment of total inspiration, Hotel Chain Crowne Plaza has decided that the best way to foster creativity is to lay turf in some of its conference rooms!

Allegedly (and one does have to question where such apparently precise figures come from) 98% of our creativity has gone by age 25, so we all need a little help to reignite the flames of innovation. "Why grass?" I hear you ask. It seems that grass was chosen "because it reminds guests of their childhood and therefore frees them of societal barriers that restrict creativity" The experts at Crowne Plaza seem to know a thing or two about ensuring that meeting attendees are kept engaged too: they claim that 40% of meeting attendees start to lose their concentration after 20 minutes. Presumably the promise of being able to frolic in the verdant pastures at coffee break will keep delegates minds in gear.

The editorial team at HR Case Studies are wondering if Crowne Plaza will need to recruit someone to mow the grass, or whether they will subcontract this activity to a flock of sheep or herd of cows? That would be one way of ensuring fresh meat in the restaurant!

Monday, 16 August 2010

There's more than one way of measuring national growth!

Clearly the news that good times appear to be returning to the Eurozone economy which increased by 1% in the three months to the end of June is welcome.

In particular, the fact that the German economy (boosted by strong exports) grew by 2.2% in the three months to the end of June ( its fastest quarterly growth in more than 20 years) is possibly even an excuse to uncork a bottle of Black Tower or warm Liebfraumilch.

BBC: German economy sees 'record' growth of 2.2%

But before we all go into raptures about good times just around the corner, it's worth considering what is taken into consideration when measuring national growth, and GDP in particular.

The following quotation from Robert F. Kenedy offers some very challenging food for thought:

Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.
Any thoughts, dear readers?

Sunday, 8 August 2010

UK managers are deluded!

Most managers are deluded!

Or so it seems according to a survey (yes, it’s one of them again!) commissioned by the Chartered Management Institute and reported in the current issue of Management Today.

Management Today: Deluded managers misjudge their strengths

The survey found that managers have a drastically different perception of their abilities compared to those of their subordinates, with over half of managers apparently giving themselves praise where it isn’t exactly due.

The CMI started by questioning just over 2,000 managers, and here are the scores on the (office) doors:

Managers’ strengths according to managers:
  • Managing people: 44%
  • Busting Targets (!): 21%
  • Managing themselves: 19%
  • Being a strong leader: 14%
Managers’ strengths according to subordinates:
  • Getting results: 41%
  • Being a strong leader: 37%
  • Managing people: 14%
There’s clearly a big discrepancy between the “”managing people” rating of managers themselves and their subordinates.

Rather than recommend psychiatric help to counter the delusional tendencies, the CMI puts the blame at the door of inadequate training. (The fact that the CMI is a major provider of management training is purely coincidental of course ……) Apparently, 68% of managers say they never planned to end up in a managerial role, while 63% had no training in management before they took up their post. 'There's an urgent need to refocus the attention of UK businesses on the way individuals learn to manage. Good managers aren’t born, they are made,’ said the CMI boss last year.

So the problem lies not with the managers themselves, but with their managers. (I’m sure that the more astute of the readers of HR Case Studies will have spotted the flaw in the logic here!)

Dodgy logic notwithstanding, as Management Today cheekily asks, is the current state of UK management one of the reasons why the likes of Royal Mail, Marks and Spencer and BP have all recently chosen to appoint CEOs who have significant management experience acquired outside the UK?