Photo credit: Tord Litleskare / Nordiske Mediedager / tordlitleskarephoto.com

Wait…did RTÉ just debunk the gender pay gap?

Most people are familiar with the German word of “schadenfreude” – that is, to take pleasure in someone else’s misfortune or bad luck.

While this can certainly be a bad thing for obvious reasons, I’m of the view that, like alcohol, you can and should enjoy a healthy bit of schadenfreude in moderation when the moment calls for it.

For example, when someone deserving has been well and truly hoisted on their own petard in poetic fashion, the human love of justice can often elicit a bit of a hearty giggle as a reaction.

And I don’t know about you, but I certainly did my share of giggling this week, as Ireland’s woke national broadcaster found itself on the receiving end of one of its own feminist tropes – the gender pay gap.

As reported by the Independent.ie this week:

“RTÉ pay gap: Men earn 13pc more than women at national broadcaster”

Oh dear, we are in trouble, aren’t we? The article goes on to explain this travesty of apparent sexism at the hands of the once-beloved institution that is RTÉ:

“Men earn 13pc more than women at RTÉ, according to the national broadcaster’s first report under new gender pay gap legislation.

New laws compel employers with over 250 staff to report on their gender pay gap this month.

The gender pay gap is the difference in the average pay of all men and women across a workforce.”

Now this is just fascinating, in a David Attenborough documentary sort of way. This is some truly amazing stuff unfolding before us here. Because just last year on November 8th, this same broadcaster said, and I quote:

“Today is Equal Pay Day – the date on which women in Ireland effectively stop earning, relative to men, because of the gender pay gap which currently stands at 14.4%.”

And bear in mind that RTÉ weren’t quoting anyone with that description – that was their own blurb, apparently articulating their own view on the matter.

This means that, so far as RTÉ was concerned, until very recently, women in Irish society were not paid equally or fairly, and were essentially working for free for months of the year like slaves.

And yet, the very next year, it turns out that RTÉ’s own gender pay gap is 13%. You actually couldn’t make it up.

So how will our friends at the national broadcaster escape from this particular bind? After running around for years, telling the country of how poorly Irish businesses treat women by paying them less, it’s now turned out that RTÉ itself is guilty of the very same sin. Surely even Houdini himself couldn’t escape from this trap? Have our intrepid media heroes met their end?

Oh no – it was at this moment that RTÉ pulled out its secret weapon. One which it had not used in such a long time, that it was covered in dust and cobwebs. One that most people assumed they’d lost on their travels over the years, never to be seen again.

They pulled out the weapon of common sense.

As the Independent reports:

“RTÉ director general Dee Forbes said in a statement that there is no “equal pay gap” in RTÉ.

“So gender has no impact on pay where women and men are employed in the same roles,” she said.

“The gender pay gap is the difference in the average hourly wage of all men and women across a workforce, not just those in similar jobs, or working patterns, or with similar competencies, or experience,” she says.

“A gender pay gap does not indicate discrimination or an absence of equal pay for equal value work – it reports a gender representation gap.””

So, in other words, when cornered, Forbes almost just came right out and said it: she stopped just short of saying “there is no gender pay gap” in the way that feminist activists mean it. No woman is paid less for doing the same work as a man in Ireland – to do so has been illegal for decades. Women are paid less, because they choose different jobs that don’t pay as well, and take longer career breaks – and that’s about the long and short of it. Discrimination is not a significant factor in any way.

In fact, the report revealed that among part time staff there is a median pay gap of 18% – in favour of women. Female part-time RTÉ staff earn more than male part-time RTÉ staff by 18%.

So Forbes has effectively said what others have been saying for years, except without being denounced as a horrible “sexist” and “misogynist” for it. If I was to publish a piece saying what she said verbatim last week, no doubt it would be pointed to as an example of horrendous bigotry – but when RTÉ says it to save its own skin as an organisation, that’s completely fine.

Unexpectedly, this pay gap reporting law might be the best thing that ever happened regarding this issue, because it’ll finally force these outlets to be honest and stop talking pure tripe. Which is convenient, because Duo Lingo doesn’t have an option to learn waffle yet, and I wasn’t looking forward to learning it just to write these articles.

 

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