Floorish Newsletter 💸 Profit over People

Welcome to the sixteenth edition of the Floorish newsletter dedicated to providing you with insightful data, ideas and views on diversity, equity and inclusion. In this newsletter, taking no more than 3 minutes of your time, I aim to keep you informed and inspired with thought-provoking content, practical tips and inspiring stories.

This week I watched the documentary series 15,000 Kids & Counting. It follows social workers, foster carers, adopters and birth parents as heart-wrenchingly difficult decisions are made about the future of vulnerable children. Observing the predominantly female social workers navigate these emotionally charged environments underscored the profound impact of their role in our society. Yet, it also highlighted a stark incongruity: the remuneration for such vital work is disproportionately low when compared to many other professions.

In our society, the positions requiring the greatest emotional intelligence—empathy, compassion, and human connection—frequently yield the lowest financial gain. Social workers, nursery staff, and teachers—people who invest their lives in the growth and support of others—earn significantly less than those in finance, IT, or law.

This disparity raises piercing questions about our values and the way our economic systems prioritise different types of work. It’s troubling that jobs centred around caring for people, especially the most vulnerable, are undervalued. This isn’t just an economic issue; it’s a moral one that speaks volumes about our collective priorities. When we undervalue caregiving roles, we compromise the very fabric of our society. Strong, stable communities are built on the foundation of well-supported, emotionally healthy individuals.

  1. Marxist Theory: Our current economic model places a high value on roles that directly contribute to capital growth. Jobs in finance, IT, and law are seen as essential for driving economic prosperity. According to Marxist theory, the value of labour is determined by its ability to generate profit, which inherently places professions like finance and IT at a higher echelon than social work.
  2. Feminist Economics: Historically, caregiving roles have been predominantly filled by women. The gendered nature of these professions has led to systemic undervaluation. Feminist economics argues that traditional economic theories fail to recognise the value of unpaid and underpaid care work, typically performed by women. Women’s work has often been seen as less valuable, a bias that persists in the lower wages of social work and childcare roles.
  3. Human Capital Theory: The laws of supply and demand also play a role. There is a high demand for financial and tech professionals, which drives up salaries in these fields. Conversely, the social sector, despite its critical importance, suffers from budget constraints and limited funding, which suppresses wage levels. Human capital theory suggests that investment in education and skills determines earning potential. However, it fails to account for the social and emotional skills required in social work, which are undervalued in comparison to technical skills in finance and IT.

To address this pay disparity, a multifaceted approach is required:

  1. Advocacy for Economic Reform: We must challenge and reshape the economic structures that place profit above people, advocating for policy reforms that bolster funding for social services and ensure equitable wages for caregiving roles.
  2. Confronting Gender Bias: It is imperative to address the gender biases that contribute to the undervaluation of female-dominated professions. This includes striving for equal pay and elevating the societal recognition of social work and care roles.
  3. Educational and Professional System Reform: Our educational and professional frameworks must evolve to acknowledge and reward the skills integral to social work. By placing emotional intelligence on an equal footing with technical expertise, we can work towards narrowing the wage gap.

In conclusion, the disparity in earnings is a stark indicator of our skewed societal values. To forge a world that is more just and equitable, we must collectively acknowledge and compensate the invaluable contributions of those who nurture and sustain our communities. It is time for a recalibration of our priorities, ensuring that all individuals, particularly those who selflessly serve others, are valued and remunerated justly.

I hope these insights have sparked your curiosity and I invite you to share any data, ideas or views you believe should be highlighted in future newsletters. Stay tuned for the next edition.

Warm regards,

Floor Martens

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