If you didn’t know that Lisa Wilkinson quit the Today show last month, well, you’ve been living under a rock. Lisa made her announcement on social media on a Sunday evening, after 10 years of co-hosting the Today show. To say Lisa’s departure from Today was a shock to the industry and Australia is an understatement.
It's been a helluva week. I'm only sorry that I never got the chance to say goodbye to you all…the incredibly supportive, engaged, opinionated, clever and wonderfully diverse audience of Today. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the fun years we shared, and for welcoming me into your homes each morning. It has been an absolute privilege. Lisa.xxx PS. This pic is from Karl's and my very first publicity shoot way back in May 2007. Look at us, we were babies!!
I’ve seen many articles and opinion pieces in the media since then. Most of the discussions and debate focussed on gender. Lisa had allegedly resigned after months of unsuccessful salary negotiations. That certainly stoked the flames on the already hot topic for 2017 – the gender pay gap.
I get that the gender pay gap is real in many industries. For me, that didn’t dull the disappointment I felt about the real issue in all of this.
I seriously wondered to myself – am I really the only one asking this question…
Why aren’t we discussing Lisa’s experience and value as a professional instead of the gender pay gap?
It seemed quite obvious to me that this wasn’t really about the gender pay gap. Something even more important than gender was at stake here. The difference between Lisa and Karl amounted to far more than gender. If Lisa and Karl had a comparable level of experience and value as professionals then sure – focus on gender.
Nobody wants to be valued, or undervalued, based on their gender. Obviously because it’s something we can’t control and didn’t choose.
For me it boils down to this –
Lisa has at least 15 years more experience in the industry than Karl.
So why isn’t anyone discussing the fact that she was being undervalued based on her experience level, personal brand, reputation and contribution to her industry?
Shouldn’t remuneration be based on experience and skill rather than gender?
The average job mobility in Australia was just over 3 years in 2014 (HILDA, Department of Employment).
More than twice as many career moves are voluntary compared with involuntary. The most common reasons for voluntary career moves are employment opportunity, life balance, or personal reasons (Mccrindle, 2014).
Last month I announced my own voluntary career move after months of applying for a range of positions within my organisation. Months of applying for government roles and preparing for interviews. As it turned out this time and effort wasn’t wasted and prepared me well for a coffee catch up, which to my surprise turned into an ad hoc job interview. Thanks to all those unsuccessful job applications and interviews I nailed it.
I won’t lie, I felt disappointed and frustrated every time I received an unsuccessful call back or email for those positions. Even though the reason was usually that someone more experienced had been selected. In one instance someone with less experience was selected and that was difficult for me to understand. That’s when I decided I no longer belonged in that organisation and was never going to be truly valued for my experience.
You could go as far as to say Lisa and I now have something in common. I’m sure many women in Australia, not mention around the world, have quit a job because they felt undervalued and underpaid.
So why did Australia focus on the obvious difference between Karl and Lisa – gender – and not the most probable reason that Lisa called it quits?
Isn’t it possible that she felt undervalued and underpaid when she compared her experience and contribution to the industry with Karl’s?
Apparently the truth is not nearly as interesting as the stories the media conjure up though. Sexism sells.