Neo-conservatives aren’t usually very funny. They’re just too angry about everything. But the National Post, where many of these folks congregate, made a funny today on an employment related issue, too!
They posted a spoof story saying that law firms would be fined $1000 for every male partner that exceeds the number of female partners. Here’s the text of the piece:
As a follow up to its study that suggests that women are leaving private practice “in droves,” the Law Society of Upper Canada is getting tough with law firms who don’t meet its equity guidelines. Starting April 1st, every Ontario law firm that does not have an equal number of male and female partners will be required to pay an equity surcharge to the Law Society. The surcharge for 2010 has been set at $1,000.00 for every male partner that exceeds the total number of female partners in a firm. Surcharges are nothing new to the Law Society which already imposes similar surcharges on lawyers who take on real estate transactions and litigation files. As one Law Society spokeswoman said, “Women are the best and brightest in law. And firms are now, literally, going to pay a price for failing to keep them in private practice.”
Hilarious! Of course, it didn’t fool me, because the idea that the Law Society would take any action to address the fact that Bay Street law firms remain a bastion of white men in positions of authority is so ludicrous to be beyond belief. I’ve lobbied before for a rule that would require law firms to disclose the gender breakdown of all lawyers, including the breakdown by these groups of people who sit on the major firm management committees. Here was my proposal:
All law firms with greater than, say, 20 lawyers, must publish annually a break down of gender composition of the firms’ major committees (including compensation and executive management committees, for example) and a gender breakdown of compensation levels of all associates and partners (maybe by percentile, there’s no need to disclose actual salaries and draws, just a method that would allow everyone to see how women fare relative to men)
I know for a fact that many women (and some men) law students and lawyers are interested in that information when job-hunting, and it is clearly relevant to the career aspirations of female lawyers. So it is information useful to the market. Plus, if firms had to publish this information each year, they may begin to notice that there ain’t any women in the meetings (except the minute-takers, of course). My proposal can be defended as market-correcting and equity seeking.
Shockingly, though, no one yet has taken up my proposal and run with it. I’m waiting…