In this guest post, Charlotte Cooper considers M&S chair Stuart Rose’s views on women (oh, excuse me, “girls”) in the workplace
“Apart from the fact that you’ve got more equality than you ever can deal with, the fact of the matter is that you’ve got real democracy and there are really no glass ceilings, despite the fact that some of you moan about it all the time. Women can get to the top of any single job that they want to in the UK. You’ve got a woman fighter pilot who went in to join the Red Arrows yesterday. I mean, what else do you want to do, for God’s sake? Women astronauts. Women miners. Women dentists. Women doctors. Women managing directors. What is it you haven’t got?”
Women have never had it so good, or so says Sir Stuart Rose, chair of Marks and Spencer and apparent expert on women in society and the workplace.
Rose’s frankly ridiculous rant in The Observer this weekend has taken the sheen off what should be a charming sunny Sunday. Jee girls, I guess we just never realised that we “have more equality than [we] can ever deal with” now.
It’s our fault, we’re so effing clueless we can’t even get the jobs big daddy patriarchs are dangling in front of our glazed eyes. Or not. Why have these stories failed to look any further into the issue than the end of their noses?
There may be more women at the top today, but the barriers that keep many women locked out big business are still in place and range wildly from women being forced to make a choice between children and career, institutionalised sexism and double standards on pay. These problems don’t go away just because you disagree with their existence.
Although Elizabeth Day, who interviews Rose for The Observer proposes “he might just be doing it to wind me up” as “he has promoted women to senior positions within M&S”, I have my reservations.
While Stuart Rose thinks it’s permissible to call his female staff “girls” when they are women, prattle on about how attractive the models in their brochures are to flex his cad muscles, not even being trailed by women “like a swarm of bees” every time he leaves the office, who emit “constant low-level giggling” will make it OK.
Stuart’s argument that he knows plenty of girls who can have it all means it must be true of everyone frankly has me vomiting on my keyboard.