The Catalyst Report on women moving into the C-suite at year end is predictably disappointing, as have been the year’s reports on gender career inequities in pay and leadership across all industries.
Here, and across the pond, we’ve had pay discrimination laws in effect for nearly thirty years and yet unintentional, institutionalized, historic pay discrimination is so ubiquitous that it has built the mansions of British barristers and sent thousands of Gen-Y children to their lawyer parents’ Ivy League and public universities.
As Justin Patten, an employment mediator in London reported recently, a British appellate court Justice recently dissented from his fellows in a 2-1 equal pay appeal (the women lost), bemoaning the nearly epidemic, interminable litigation equal pay laws had set in motion.
“Over 30 years of litigation have not eradicated unjustified pay discrimination,” the Lord Justice wrote. Achieving the “uncontroversial aim” of equal pay for equal work, he sighed, was “taking a very long time indeed.” No one who toils in the fields of the adversarial system would find this in the least surprising because the system is designed to escalate conflict rather than to efficiently resolve it.
No one has said it better before or since than did Justice Lord Mummery:
“Putting th[e] uncontroversial aim [of pay equity] into practice is taking a very long time indeed, which is not surprising as the whole set up involves, indeed requires, the clashing of rights not just between employer and employee, but also as between groups of employees.”
Let me say that again. The whole set up requires the clashing of rights.
by Victoria Pynchon