Friday, June 24, 2011

Protecting their own

The business elites are drawing their wagons around embattled CEO of the Employers & Manufacturers Association (EMA), Alasdair Thompson. According to the Dominion Post (via Stuff), EMA’s northern president. Graham Mountfort, said EMA backs Thompson:
"If you take the comments in context, we don't believe they were perhaps as outrageous as has been painted. I imagine it would be something that would fire people up."
People are “fired up” precisely because they took those comments in context—the comments and Thompsons repeated defence of them.

Cameron Brewer, chair of Auckland Council's Business Advisory Panel, of which Thompson is also a member, was tone-deaf in defence of Thompson:
"At some point or another most people say something stupid at work which they regret. That is exactly what Alasdair has done and he has unreservedly apologised."
No, he didn’t—he went on and repeated the same remarks endlessly, defending them as being fact, even though he couldn’t produce a shred of evidence to support his idiotic remarks. Saying you’re sorry if anyone was offended by your remarks is NOT the same thing as actually apologising—and actually being sorry—for what you said.

Brewer also declared that, “[Thompson’s] employers have no doubt voiced their huge dissatisfaction and disappointment but are standing by him given his overall contribution." Where’s the evidence that they disapprove? Graham Mountfort’s comments clearly show that the EMA agrees with Thompson or, at least, doesn’t get why Thompson’s remarks were so deeply offensive. Neither does Cameron Brewer, obviously.

Let’s be clear once again: There isn’t a shred of credible evidence to back Thompson’s sexist and misogynistic remarks. In fact, what little evidence is available suggests he was completely wrong, not just merely wrong. Thompson’s problem isn’t that “socialists” and “PC” people don’t agree with him, it’s that he’s dead wrong. Blaming others for pointing out how wrong he is doesn’t make Thompson any less wrong.

Still, there are lessons to take from what Lew at Kiwipolitico calls “an epic failure of communication”. I hope that even Alasdair Thompson will take the time to reflect and to learn from his “epic failure”.

My previous post on this subject: Doing the business class proud?


Writer Of The Purple Sage said...

Alasdair stated a fact – that some women take time off for bad periods, or for looking after sick children. He NEVER said:
+ that he SUPPORTED lower pay for women because of this.
+ or that pay rates should be DIFFERENT between men and women.
+ or that he felt women had a lower work OUTPUT simply because of their biology.
But some employers DO pay women less because of their biology, or their child-nuturing, or don’t promote/train them too highly (in case they fall pregnant and thus be off-work and a loss to the company)…or just ‘because they’re women and that’s the way the pay scale’s always been’ (I briefly studied this issue last year at uni).
Yes, it’s sexist. Yes, it’s a sour part of the current employment reality. Yes, it should be changed. And no, I don’t have the solution. However, sacking Thompson is not the answer. The debate should be about how to remove sexism in the workplace.

Read more: http://yardyyardyyardy.blogspot.com/2011/06/thompsons-tampon-talk-realistic.html#ixzz1Q9VAUgrK

Arthur Schenck said...

Thanks for the comment!

What Thompson said was an opinion, not fact: Neither he nor anyone else has been able to produce any credible evidence to support his assertion. We can only conclude that what he said was based on prejudice. He also did indeed say that women had lower productivity.

However, you're absolutely right that employers pay women less because of their biology, though they're not upfront about that, of course. I also completely agree with you that we should be talking about how to remove sexism from the workplace.

I must point out that I never called for Thompson to be sacked; that's a matter for the EMA, and I'm not a member, so I can't comment. I don't even have a private opinion as to what the EMA should do.

I do think the honourable thing would have been for him to resign rather than bring the EMA into further disrepute, but that, again, is between him, his conscience, and the EMA.

However, I stand by my call that any business member of the EMA that doesn't support Thompson's remarks should quit rather than be tainted by association.