Merit is code for wanting someone who looks just like you do.

Spartacus is speechless.  There are just no words.  Just read the following contribution from Jenna Price, Fairfax columnist, and an academic at the University of Technology, Sydney.

Why Australia Post’s CEO was worth every cent of his $5.6 million salary

Here’s a riddle.

Q: What does it cost to achieve pay equity in an organisation?

A: $5.6 million

That’s what Ahmed Fahour earned a year as chief executive officer of Australia Post. And his legacy is worth far more than that to the women at Australia Post, which this week reported a zero gender pay gap for the first time across the enterprise.

Fahour was as aggressive in pursuing improvements for women in his workplace as he was in pursuing remuneration – and that should be applauded.

It’s a challenge few other chief executives pursue with any enthusiasm. Instead, they meet the dead gaze of boards and senior management who bang on about “merit”, as if that concept had any objective meaning. Merit is code for wanting someone who looks just like you do.

There are plenty of men earning the big bucks in organisations where the gender pay gap is deplorable, where the gendered job trajectory is a disgrace, where women are shepherded into low-paid jobs in admin. Where there are no women on boards (Flight Centre. Not one single woman on the board. Not one. I will never, ever use Flight Centre until that changes.)

And Fahour changed that at Australia Post, across an organisation  that employs 34,000 people. While we were all critiquing his remuneration package, he instituted processes that included the removal of employee names from job applications to avoid unconscious bias, and purposefully recruited more women into senior and operational roles.

This is not a retrofit – in other words, I’m not just attributing the result to him with 20/20 hindsight. Diane Smith-Gander, the immediate past president of Chief Executive Women and non-executive director on the board of a number of big organisations, remembers hearing Fahour speak at a CEDA event in Perth in August 2013. She says he listed all the ways he was set to achieve a zero gender pay gap: internal mentoring (including mentoring he was doing himself) and moving women into leadership roles.

“He was asking all the right and the tough questions,” says Smith-Gander.

Then, whenever he would see her at functions in the years following, Fahour would seek out Smith-Gander, asking her advice on this particular topic, garnering support for actions he planned to take.

The gender pay gap will only budge if senior managements and boards take it dead seriously. Workplace Gender Equality Agency research shows overwhelmingly that the majority of Australian organisations have an overall gender pay gap in favour of men.

What’s worse is that the agency’s data set shows gender pay gaps exist for full-time employees across every industry, occupation and manager group.

Every industry. Every occupation. Every manager group. That’s not an accident and I can barely call it unconscious bias. That’s systemic rorting of processes so it disadvantages women. Think that’s too tough?

Andrew McMahon, research manager at WGEA, says a minority of employers try to address the problem of gender pay equity. Only 27 per cent of organisations reported in 2015-16 that they had conducted a gender pay gap analysis. About half of those had actually taken any action.

Fahour should be centre stage now, at least getting some credit for his legacy – but he was pay-shamed so comprehensively, it’s unlikely he would be acknowledged appropriately. So I’m doing it here. Ahmed, we hardly knew you.

There are some others who deserve a shout-out for trying to even up the score.

Michelle Dixon, partner and CEO at Maddocks, famously had to tell a senior partner to take a significant pay cut thee years ago. Like a champ, he took it on the chin. He’s still with the business and is an equity partner. Dixon says he understood it was about fairness.

“If things are out of whack, you have to take action,” she says.

And that’s what real leadership looks like. There are far too many men who refuse to see the evidence within their own organisations – refuse to even conduct gender pay gap audits. Closing an organisation-wide gender pay gap is hard work and can be confronting (take Dixon’s experience, for one).

It’s not just looking at like for like, it’s looking at the under-representation of women in the big jobs – not just the ones that hive them off into HR and comms.

There are also organisations that have made a contribution to women’s financial security by augmenting superannuation – at Unions NSW and at consultancy firm Rice Warner, women have been getting an extra 2 per cent towards their superannuation since 2013.

The news is good for those at Australia Post – but the circle will only be complete when its new CEO, Christine Holgate, earns what her predecessor did. Instead, she will earn a base salary of $1.4 million with a possible bonus of $1.4 million.

What advice does Gander-Smith have for leaders who think they want to make change in their organisations?

Ring Ahmed Fahour. Ask him how he did it.

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49 Responses to Merit is code for wanting someone who looks just like you do.

  1. Boambee John

    Hence when Allan Ashbolt moved into a position involving recruitment in Their ABC, he recruited “people like him” until Their ABC was essentially staffed by the “progressive left”.

    But the gender imbalance remained, and seemsto still be there.

    Why are “progressive” organisations such cesspits of mysoginy and political preference ? (H/t Instapundit.)

  2. marcus classis

    Jenna Price is obviously there because Fairfaux has a policy of employing mentally deficient marxist turds.

  3. Defender of the faith

    Price is known at fairfax as the killer tomato 🍅

  4. NuThink

    Please remind Jenna Price that Australia Post is supposed to be about postal deliveries. What has happened to postal deliveries? They have gotten slower, less often, and more expensive. Surely the CEO should be rewarded for improving postal deliveries and reducing the cost. Just shows how far out of reality some academics and CEOs are. If she had a business that depended on post then she may just see the light.
    BTW, how come some industries are almost all male? We need to see more female fitters and turners and steel workers and rugby players and bricklayers. What about the disparity in male and female prison populations? Maybe we need more women in prison to even up the score.

  5. Squirrel

    “Merit is code for wanting someone who looks just like you do.”

    And the Nobel Prize for Irony goes to….

    Looking forward to the rigorous independent evaluations proving that a zero gender pay gap is the secret to Australia Post’s world-beating service standards and cost-competitiveness.

  6. John Constantine

    Australia Post.

    Politically correct-a-saurus.

    Ask people holding australia post franchises, the little places servicing obsolete people out in deplorable places how the company is running.

    We see that a creature of the left fundementally transformed the organisation into leftist identity politics.

    Coming are innovative regulations banning competition with australia post, unless they meet strict identity politics benchmarks.

  7. RobK

    When we carry our previous and limited natural egg carriers and nurturers into hazardous occupations inorder to placate equality and participation numbers, we are disregarding fundamental system strengths required for survival. It’s not a toy thing.

  8. Spring is coming

    A friend who recently was ‘retired’ from Comm Bank, told me the bank pursued these affirmative gender policies. The inexperience has shone through.

  9. RobK

    Previous s/b precious….curse you predicted txt.

  10. Snoopy

    Breaking! Jenna Price vows never to visit a hospital until such time as nursing and admin staff are 50% women.

  11. entropy

    I would like to know if the Aus Post calculation differed from the standard way these data manipulators usually use. Is it just the average wage per gender? Also: zero diff? How is that possible? Surely it would be at least a little bit one way or another.
    O the other hand, the claim every industry has a gender gap: even child care, OTs, speech therapists?Nurses. even with the sisterhood in charge? Is there a gender gap there, even with the bullshit way this mob measure it?
    And on the gripping hand, of course she thinks $5.6m was worth it. It wasn’t her money.

  12. rickw

    Ring Ahmed Fahour. Ask him how he did it.

    What? Turned a shit service provider into an incredibly shit service provider?

  13. Barry 1963

    Fahour did a great job; he kept AP highly profitable in a tough environment.

  14. candy

    She’s being racist because Ahmed Fahour is a Muslim. Of course his salary was most obscene, but to say you need to look like him to get the same salary could be considered quite racist. The Fahour fellow said he was picked on because he is a Muslim. perhaps he had J. Price in mind?

    It’s a very strange world we have here in Australia. Even $1.4 million is too much for CEO of a postal service, male or female, who cares? to the public it’s getting letters into mailboxes. It’s deadset simple.

  15. #marcus classis ~ “Jenna Price is obviously there because Fairfaux has a policy of employing mentally deficient marxist turds”: I’d don’t know Jenna Price and I never worked for Fairfax (I was on the other side of the media battleground), but Marcus, mate, you evidently wouldn’t know a Marxist (turd or otherwise) if it got into your shit sandwich. My money’s on Price.

  16. 2dogs

    Ask him how he did it.

    Easy when you run a state imposed monopoly. Might be a bit harder if you have competitors who are not joining in your idiocy.

    With no competitors, he just increased stamp prices by 82% to fund his endeavours. When previously stamp prices rose at below the average inflation rate.

  17. John Constantine

    “That is so brilliant, richard laidlaw”.

    Almost Julie Bishop level in virtue signalling.

  18. Megan

    So Jenna has her job at Fairfax because she has ladyparts and not because she is the best at what she doe. This article totally gives that away.

  19. Ƶĩppʯ (ȊꞪꞨV)

    So the [edit] turd decreased the quality of service, increased the length of time it takes to ship parcels anywhere, raised prices and nationalised competitors and greatly expanded a government entity into the turf of private enterprise. They wasted money on automated machines, “digital” mailbox, like anyone doesn’t have a fucking mailbox.

    And now they overpay women.

    No wonder the marxist [edit] love him.

    [Edited. Zippy Really? C’mon. Sinc]

  20. Des Deskperson

    “I would like to know if the Aus Post calculation differed from the standard way these data manipulators usually use. Is it just the average wage per gender?”

    According to the WGEA, a simple organisation-wide gender remuneration gap analysis – the difference between the average remuneration of all women and the average remuneration of all men in your organisation – is acceptable for reporting and monitoring purposes. I think we can assume that Australia Post is being judged – and lauded – on that basis, rather than on one that compares the same or similar role .

    An organisation-wide gender gap analysis isn’t very useful.

    BTW, I just took a look at the WGEA annual reporting requirements for firms on gender equity. It’s a box-ticking exercise that any competent HR manager could manipulate to make their organisation look good.

  21. Art Vandelay

    Only 3 of Fairfax’s 9 board members are women. Perhaps Jenna Price should resolve to only write unintelligible drivel until this glaring gender disparity is addressed. ….oh wait…

  22. Jimf

    The vast majority of jobs are mandated by law not to delineate b/n gender . It’s hourly rate etc for same job regardless.
    At mgt level (jun/mid/sen) it’s a negotiated reward based on value .
    As it should be regardless of gender.
    Jenna and the gang ignore the legislated equity for most women (you know,the boring,”mainstream” suburban, regional types working in unsexy occupations) because that’s not where her fight really is ,is it? The ranks of cpys are now full of women doing well, and good on them .
    Most of these talented women in commercial enterprise (not PS or academia) would think she’s an embarrassing throwback throwing air punches .

  23. BrettW

    I thought that AP being a Government organisation pay levels would be the same for each job no matter male or female. However dont see many female delivery people but the ones in the air-conditioned post offices seem to be overwhelmingly female.

    As for the new female boss getting paid same as Fahour – you have got to be kidding. How come he was worth multiple times more than other international post office organisations and local heads such as Chief of Defence Force etc.

  24. As for the new female boss getting paid same as Fahour – you have got to be kidding. How come he was worth multiple times more than other international post office organisations and local heads such as Chief of Defence Force etc.

    He wasn’t “worth it”, he just managed to gouge that much out of the Australian taxpayers and users of the postal “service”.

  25. Hasbeen

    Out here in the bush it makes sense to buy a fair bit of stuff on the net. A few years back I was choosing delivery by Australia Post. We have a great, helpful, local mail contractor, the price was competitive, the delivery time was very good, & the tracking system the best I had found.

    First the tracking system stopped working, & has not worked properly in the last 18 months. Then the price climbed, & delivery times lengthened. I have gone back to couriers.

    It looks as if that affirmative action was a great policy,—- for the courier companies.

  26. Oh come on

    So what if there are 0 women on the Flight Centre board? What’s the gender breakdown between people who are eligible to be Flight Centre board members?How many women put themselves forward as candidates to be elected to the Flight Centre board? I’d bet good money that there are a very, very small number of women in both categories – the second one in particular. Why? Well, I don’t know. Being a board member of a large-ish company doesn’t seem *that* attractive; especially so given that such a person is likely to be well-heeled and would have no end of pursuits vying for their valuable attention. Why are rich, corporate-minded women less willing to put themselves through the process of being appointed to a board like Flight Centre’s than their male counterparts? Why not ask them; both the men and women? We aren’t talking about an especially large group of people here.

  27. Oh come on

    In summary, I highly doubt gender discrimination favouring men is a major factor that’s caused the lack of women on Flight Centre’s board.

  28. mareeS

    Re Allan Ashbolt, Boambee John, I will get back to him.

    But first, Australia Post: in Newcastle we have one of the finest sandstone Victorian post office buildings outside of our capital cities.

    Newcastle had an earthquake in 1989, and Australia Post took the opportunity to divest itself of this landmark building and set up a little rented shopfront.

    AP sold the building to a 22yo Vietnamese “entrepreneur” despite having a firm offer from the RSL,as there is a cenotaph at the front of the premises, from where Anzac Day marches start.

    It gets murkier as the old post office was long unoccupied, deteriorating, and 10 years ago was donated to a local indigenous company, since when it has deteriorated further and become a squatter haven.

    Thanks to 18thC building standards, it can be rescued, but would this travesty ever have been allowed to happen in any of your cities or towns to a landmark building?

    I am at a loss as how it came to be.

  29. mareeS

    Re Allan Ashbolt: I was at ABC in news at that time. Geoffrey Luck wrote a great account for Qadrant about how it all happened in the news/public affairs wars of 1970s/80s, when the charter was rewritten and ditched.

    I loved working there in the earlier days/nights/mornings, but never tune in now. So sick of global warming catastrophe and Manus Island.

  30. IainC

    “…purposefully recruited more women into senior and operational roles”. So he implemented sexism to fight sexism. How very Alt-Left.

  31. Amadeus

    Mmmmm, just wondering if Fahour took a leaf out of Harvey Weinstein’s “How to mentor talented women”?

  32. Obio

    “he instituted processes that included the removal of employee names from job applications to avoid unconscious bias”

    It was tried in the Public Service and found to have the opposite effect and has gone very quiet.

  33. Amadeus

    Aw, gee. For $5m a year, Fahour discovered (a) letters weren’t that popular anymore (b) posties on $15 an hour were dispensable and (c) it looks like sending parcels is popular so let’s ramp up the parcel business so the government can take on the private sector parcel service…like David and Goliath. Gosh, what a genius.

  34. Peter O'Brien

    It now takes 10 days to get a letter from Adelaide to Kiama 2 hours south of Sydney. Great job Ahmed!

  35. JohnA

    The proposition fails at the first par.

    Where was the gender equality at the $5.6m CEO level? Hmm?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

  36. Rabz

    I will never, ever use Flight Centre until that changes

    And Flight Centre staff across the country duly breathed a huge sigh of relief.

  37. jupes

    While we were all critiquing his remuneration package, he instituted processes that included the removal of employee names from job applications to avoid unconscious bias, and purposefully recruited more women into senior and operational roles.

    So he removed “unconcious” bias and then applied real bias.

  38. Rabz

    to the public it’s getting letters into mailboxes

    They’re incapable of even performing that simple task.

    But hey, pay some sleazy incompetent moozley (BIRM) about a gazillion times more than what he’s worth? Promote people on the basis of their genitalia and not their abilities?

    You bet your exorbitant extorted taxes they can!

  39. Sentinel Man

    Just checked her Twitter feed. She is one of Tim Blair’s highest level of Frightbats.
    She must be a nightmare to work with,

  40. struth

    Would it be sexist to deny a brilliant candidate for a position and install a substandard one because they are the wrong sex?
    Because their tits may have hair?

    This tantrum is why they are not being hired, if they aren’t.
    We’ve had a female PM, and we have a Foreign minister now who has a pair of tits (although probably quite Leathery old things now, they are still tits) and the opposition leader also has them.
    No one I know has ever been biased against tits.
    I personally, find them fascinating.

    Let’s face it, Australia Post is not a private company.
    The Mussie running it wasn’t going to cause it’s collapse, no matter what he did.
    By the way, while he was being so fantastic to women, how’d his private life stack up?
    How was he treating his wives?

    All I see here is the very real bullshit women coming out of uni are brainwashed with these days.
    They truly believe their are gender pay gaps, when no one is paid differently for the same job based on sex.
    It’s against the law.
    She is a victim of cultural Marxism and doesn’t even know it.

    She’s just raging against western white men, as they are the enemy.
    A brainwashed bint.

  41. Des Deskperson

    ‘She is one of Tim Blair’s highest level of Frightbats.’

    I think this is flattering Price.

    Top ranking Frightbats like Clemmie Ford have a sort of originality, even an inverted flair, in their awfulness.

    Price, like Caro, is just a vindictive little suburban punisher and straightener, dull and pedestrian. If she wasn’t an ‘academic’, she’d be making like hell for some P & C somewhere.

  42. NuThink

    @Hasbeen, AP owns STARTRACK so they are getting in on both post and courier. I too need to purchase online and send parcels for my business, and used to use AP, but no more. I don’t have a shop front. Not sure when the package will arrive or when it will get there. There are also accusations that the postie just puts the card in the post box forcing you to go to the post office. Quicker for them. I waited for a package one day and there was no postie appearing at my door, but I found the card in the box later.

    StarTrack, is a national Australian transport and logistics company owned by Australia Post, which is owned by the Commonwealth of Australia

  43. NuThink

    Barry 1963
    #2521532, posted on October 12, 2017 at 9:38 pm
    Fahour did a great job; he kept AP highly profitable in a tough environment.

    The purpose of AP is to deliver post. Who cannot cut staff, cut service, extend delivery times into the never never and be government backed and supported and not be “successful“.

    I heard that anyone can compete with AP as long as they charge 4 times what AP charge for the same service, but I am open to correction on this.

  44. NuThink

    Reading this article in the link shows just why Jenna Price is top of Tim Blair’s frightbat ratings.

    Why just a message to women – ain’t that sexist?

  45. Turnip

    No wonder our Star track deliveries have become totally unreliable.

    Fail to pick up, fail to deliver, charge more than others.

    Yet our company is even stupider in that they can’t find an alternative.

  46. PoliticoNT

    Ah, well, am heading to Perth late January with my kids to catch up with a sibling, enjoy the beach, friends etc. Was thinking maybe I should try and book it all myself online (Expedia generally the best), or maybe I’ll pop into the local FlightCentre office and get them to sort it all out. Could be a little extra but experience over many years with FC has always, without exception, been a positive one.

    No decision now though; I’m off to FlightCentre.

  47. Couldn’t read past her definition of “merit”.

  48. Damienski

    How do I get on board the superannuation train? An extra 2% because female. Sexism, much? Nah, didn’t think so.

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