Action not words

Editor’s Blog Posted 23/06/14
July 2014 - Editor's column

One can imagine the CBI’s new deputy director-general being quietly pleased at the reaction she sparked from one of the South East’s leading women entrepreneurs when she decided to make closing the gender gap one of her first targets.

After all, if you want women to stand up for their rights and demand a fairer deal, you must equally expect them to pull no punches when they disagree with your stance.

In this case, as our story on page 8 reveals, Diamond Logistics’ managing director Kate Lester was quick to let near-namesake Katja Hall know what she thought of her ‘softly softly’ approach to tackling the problem.

Katja wants to set targets, raise awareness, improve understanding, encourage this, monitor that and wait for things to get better. For Kate, though, the answer is more straightforward; we have equal pay legislation – use it.

Life, of course, is rarely that simple. No doubt the CBI is unwilling to stir up that particular hornets’ nest because it has its members’ interests at heart. The organisation feels it would be “disproportionate and burdensome” to make companies spill the beans on their pay gap when they should be focusing on growth.

It might indeed be inconvenient for businesses, but it would be a much easier way of tackling the gender pay gap than setting another batch of targets. If you want to open a door, turning the handle is surely easier than setting targets for removing the hinges.

If solving a problem using existing legislation seems obvious, then Surrey County Council’s bid to persuade the Government to allocate road repair cash according to how busy the local roads are is surely equally obvious.

At the moment, apparently, cash is allocated on a ‘per mile’ basis, which presumably means Yorkshire gets more than Surrey, despite the fact that Surrey has the third-busiest network outside London and contributes far more to the Exchequer than our friends up north.

As the story on page 12 highlights, that situation may soon change following an approach to the roads minister. Let’s just hope that if he introduces new rules they aren’t bypassed in favour of setting targets and improving monitoring.

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