Archive for the ‘Equality’ Category

Gender Quotas or real change?

November 17, 2014

Working mother with child on couch

It drives me nuts whenever I hear it mentioned ..

New legislation in Ireland means political parties are required to ensure at least 30 per cent of their candidates in the 2016 General Election are women; any party that fails to reach the target will have its State funding cut by 50 per cent. 

Parties will also be required to have 40 per cent or more female candidates after a further seven years.

My first thought is how is this ‘rigging’ possible in a modern society where we all enjoy equal opportunities and there are no real ‘blocks’ to men or women achieving what they want?

We hear about the ‘old boy’s club‘ in politics – when you probe this it is more about dynasties of political power that will keep me on the outside just as it would any woman that I know. However if I want to run I can just the same as any woman can.

The solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing female candidates in and male candidates out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  In a rigged situation you will just never know, which for me will do a huge disservice to every woman in politics.

And then we have the boardroom..

The European Commission pushed a proposal forward in November 2012. At its heart lies a requirement for 40% female representation among non-executive directors in publicly listed companies by 2020. 

Once again the solution to the “problem” of the numerical gender imbalance is to ‘rig’ the situation by forcing females in and males out until the magic numbers are achieved.

Are you there on merit?  Again, a huge disservice to every woman in business.

Are we really serious about gender equality?

I believe if we really want to achieve this gender equality then we need to radically alter our social structures and change how we look at the roles of men and women in society.

This starts with the issue of parenthood, which seems to be the key moment that derails careers for many women.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when little Johnny has a fever. It must be as normal for the father to run home to look after him as it is for the mother.

If we are equal there must be no difference between a man and a woman when it comes to leave after a baby is born (other than the natural time a woman needs for physically preparing and recovering from birth).

When an employee announces they are having a baby the scenario and the disruption to the careers of the person and to the workplace should within reason be the same for both the man and the woman.

Father with baby

If this happens employers will be less concerned about disruption due to maternity leave with female team members, which is always a huge challenge for both the woman and the employer with the men blissfully pushing on with their careers uninterrupted.

For example Denmark make some attempt at equality here. Parental leave is a whopping 52 weeks in total with the woman taking 18 weeks, the man 2 weeks and both sharing the remaining 32 weeks as they wish.

Can you imagine a man announcing to his boss that “we are having a baby so I will be taking 6 months paternity leave as my wife has chosen to get back to work as soon as possible“? ….congratulations!

The Huffington Post covered this topic recently: In the Nordic countries they have made it possible for parents to combine work and family, resulting in more women in the workplace, more shared participation in childcare, more equitable distribution of labour at home, better work-life balance for both women and men and, in some cases, a boost to waning fertility rates.

Policies in these countries include mandatory paternal leave in combination with maternity leave, generous, state-mandated parental leave benefits provided by a combination of social insurance funds and employers, tax incentives and post-maternity re-entry programmes. Together, these policies have lowered the opportunity costs of having children and led to relatively higher and rising birth rates, as compared to other ageing, developed economies.

As long as having a baby can disrupt the career and workplace of the woman and have virtually no effect on the man and as long as the woman is always seen as the main child carer then we will always struggle to achieve true equality.

If we are really serious about gender equality we need to fundamentally change how our society operates and forget about unfair, risky and potentially damaging  ‘rigging’ tactics when the dye has already been cast and it is just too late. 

Greg Canty 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

 

What is it about Cork and Dublin rivalry?

October 21, 2014

welcome to cork

Recently I was at the inspiring IGNITE UCC graduate innovation programme launch event whereby this years participants were introduced to the attendees.

One after the other. each of the enthusiastic new entrepreneurs stood up and very quickly pitched their business idea to the audience.

Hi, my name is Greg and I am developing an APP that records receipts for valuable things you purchase just in case they need to be returned at a later date” (not a bad idea..huh!! )

The simple routine was, ‘My name is ..and my idea is..‘.

We heard one good idea after another and then it came to Eileen Weadick’s turn.

Hi, my name is Eileen Weadick, I’m from Dublin and I hope you don’t hold that against me!” She went on to tell us about her company, eXtensicon that offers a technical content service for companies mainly in the Information Communications Technology sector.

Eileen was one of the only people to mention where she was from.

I chatted to her after and asked her why she felt she had to mention where she was from in such a way – no one else did. Even though she has been living in Cape Clear for years she explained to me that she still gets stick from some people for being a ‘Dub‘ or a ‘Jackeen‘.

Often it is harmless but sometimes there is a little bit of an edge to it she further explained.

While it seems odd and makes no sense that anyone would feel negatively disposed towards her there is a clear and real ‘truth‘ in what she was saying.

In Cork being very honest we do have an issue with the ‘Dubs‘ and the normal, friendly welcome that we are well known and much loved for, can be put firmly to one side if we hear the wrong accent.

What is that all about?

Do we think they feel superior to us and do we feel inferior to them?

Do we feel they get the breaks that we never get?

Do we feel they think we are all from the ‘country‘?

Is it so engrained in our history that these feelings are automatically passed down to us?

Maybe we feel they might know more then we do and it is our automatic defence mechanism?

I spoke to a guy from Dublin last week about the whole Cork/Dublin dynamic and he said he spent three years trying to ‘crack’ Cork but he never succeeded – he reckoned being from Dublin was the reason for his lack of success.

When we worked on the Cork Marketing project we found there was no reason to compete with Dublin – we are a modern European city with plenty to offer in our own right. If truth be told and we were to compare we have the distinct advantage of having a more relaxed and better quality of life.

When I worked with Guinness in Dublin I was surprised how enjoyable the whole experience was and how the anti-Cork feeling that I was expecting before I joined never, ever materialised.

We work a few days a week in Dublin and I do find myself stressing to anyone we meet that we have a real office there and often I wonder if my Cork accent is a disadvantage to doing business.

Based on my experience I genuinely don’t feel there is a similar prejudice against Corkonians but they do want to know that you are physically there and that you are up to the job in a larger market. Once you convince them of that you get business on merit.

While local knowledge is valuable and priceless, so too is a fresh perspective.

Why not enjoy both equally and have the best of both worlds?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion who have two Dubs working for us in Cork!

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork

 

 

 

Nature, Nurture and all things Equal

February 9, 2014

Men's 100m final Usain Bolt

All of the finalists in every men’s Olympic 100 meters from 1984 onwards have been black. Not only that but all have had their family origins  in sub-Saharan West Africa, whose inhabitants are genetically programmed to run fast.

Speed over short distances comes from fast-twitch muscle fibres, which contract twice as fast as slow-twitch. Calf muscles of elite sprinters have 75% fast-twitch. Half milers have 50-50 fast, while long distance runners mostly slow. Although slower they can endure longer, which might explain why Jamaica produces elite sprinters such as Usain Bolt but no long distance stars.

The fastest Jamaican 10,000 meter runner would not have qualified for the London Olympics.

The Sports Gene David EpsteinI was fascinated by the subject matter in the review of a book by David Epstein called “The Sports Gene” in a magazine called Oldies, on our way to Munich. (Oldies !! I know what you are thinking – what was Greg doing reading that? It just looked like the most interesting magazine on the shelf at the airport newsagent. Some fabulous articles in it.)

One of the central themes in the book was: Are we purely a product of our genes or can we shape our destiny by dedication and hard work?

This is a difficult topic as it forces you into areas such as race, genetics, gender in our politically correct world.

There are definite conclusions in the well researched book such as  “sporting prowess is in fact, usually down to your genes plus plenty of practice“.

Michael Shermer in his review of the book in the Wall Street Journal commented  “it was bound to put the cat among the pigeons with the blank-slate crowd who think we can all be equal as long as we equalise environmental inputs such as practice“.

There are things that some people due to race, gender or genetics are just better at and instead of fighting this we should understand it, appreciate it and even embrace it.

Whether it is sport, work or life instead of arguing and getting all riled up about the imbalanced percentages we should try better to understand why this is the case and explore if it is nature causing the differences and nothing else.

The most important thing for me is that if I want to run the 100 metres, become a ballet dance, operate a crane, play the drums, become a nurse, become a politician, or start a new business I can.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design agency in Ireland with offices in Cork and Dublin