A post on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s own blog by one of its employees that suggested women are to blame for the wage gap solely because they take time off to have children has gotten a very public smack-down from a top Chamber executive.
In the post “Equality, Suffrage and a Fetish for Money,” which went up Wednesday, ChamberPost editor and Senior Director of Communications Brad Peck accused Democratic women who compare the fight for fair pay to the fight for suffrage of having “Scrooge-like fetish for money.” This would, of course, be the same Chamber that regularly advocates for policies on everything from environmental regulation to, yes, equal pay to tort reform that would allow its members to increase profits.
In Peck’s piece, which was intended to serve as a response to the DNC’s call to consider the Paycheck Fairness Act, Peck quoted liberally from FreedomWorks employee and conservative blogger Tabitha Hale and New York Times economics columnist David Leonhardt to “prove” that the entirety of the wage gap was due to women’s personal choices. Thus, Peck opined, women that seek to erode the wage gap are just fetishizing money over family. In fact, Peck said, “those fighting for “full equality” are trying to actually legislate away choice” — the choice to make less money.
Peck had a solution for women worried about the wage gap, though:
But as we all seek to fit our values into a dynamic 24/7 economy, let’s not overlook the obvious, immediate, power-of-the-individual solution: choosing the right place to work and choosing the right partner at home.
Because, of course, achieving the right work-life balance is a matter of just picking where one would like to work and just finding the right person to deal with the “life” stuff.
Peck, undoubtedly, felt he was on fairly safe ground with this post. The Chamber unequivocally opposed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act; it has and continues to opposed the Paycheck Fairness Act that the DNC supports; and it has as one of its legislative priorities to “Oppose efforts to expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) by covering smaller businesses and making leave paid.” But between the brutal comments and what we can only assume were more than a couple of calls from women Chamber members, Peck ended up, it appears, with quite a surprise.
Late last night, the Chamber’s COO David Chavern posted one of his very intermittent blog posts at ChamberPost, disavowing Peck’s original post, and taking a swipe at his own employee in the process.
There is a lot that I don’t like about the piece. It is simplistic and misguided. Even worse, I find it very, very old fashioned. “Women still face challenges at work because of their own work-life choices”, blah, blah, blah. It is an argument from the 1960’s.
The trouble that it is an argument that doesn’t explain a whole bunch of bad things. Why, for example, does the number of Fortune 500 women CEO’s and senior managers seem to have topped out? That is a truth that impacts a whole bunch of women who have made a wide variety of work-life choices. It certainly isn’t an outcome one would predict if all companies were really the “equal opportunity” (let alone “equal outcome”) workplaces that Brad implies that they are. The “glass ceiling” is real and simply blaming it on women’s work-life choices is ridiculous.
There is also a lot of good evidence that women make great entrepreneurs. Shouldn’t that tell us something? Why is it that a large number of large, institutional environments don’t work for women — but ones they create for themselves do?
The bottom line is that I found Brad’s post to be both wrong and wrong-headed. Luckily, as the COO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce my opinion on these matters counts a lot more than his does when it comes to Chamber policy and operations.
It would be, of course, more of a burn if Chavern intended to reverse any of the Chamber’s many policy stances that could help alleviate the very problems even Chavern sees in the American business world.