I found Janet Street-Porter’s article in the Daily Mail the other day headlined “About bloody time I got a gong! Even if it makes me look like a right Royal hypocrite” interesting for several reasons.
Although Janet deserves her CBE for services to journalism and broadcasting, I think it’s a bit rich to slag off large sections of the Royal family and then accept an award from them. She’s had regular pops at Prince Charles and his brother Andrew. There again she’s always been a bit of a loose woman hasn’t she? I think she wrote the article in the Daily Mail, trying to justify why she accepted the CBE, to try to ‘equalise before others score’. I’m sure she won’t be the last to slag off the Royal’s and then do a complete about turn when it suits them.
She said she accepted it as a role model for other working class woman, and she does have a leg to stand on there. Looking at the most recent New Year honours list, although the total number of honours was more or less evenly split, 52% to 48%, in favour of men, a massive 62% of recipients of the two top end honours, knighthood/damehood and CBE awards were men – compared to just 38% women. So the gender gap clearly still exists when it comes to the more prestigious honours.
As it happens, men were also more likely to receive an OBE, a mid ranking honour, with 55% of the recipients being male (134 males to 109 females). This was an improvement on the 2015 OBE rate which showed a gender gap of 41% vs 59% in favour of men.
So it is clear that women are missing out on both mid and higher end honours.
It’s probably for the same reasons as women fill less of the higher end jobs. Fewer than one in 10 executive directors at FTSE 100 companies are female although what’s really telling is that more than 30% of non-executive directorships at FTSE 100 companies are now held by women. Perhaps the reason why so many more non-executive positions are being filled by women is that the time commitment is much lower – often just a few days a month, allowing women the time to juggle work and family commitments as the onus often falls on them to do so.
Recipients of high-end honours like damehoods/knighthoods and CBE’s are far more likely to include a very strong element of achievement in their working lives e.g. they are likely to be leaders in their field such as medicine, business or academia whereas lower end honours are often awarded to those doing outstanding, hands-on, community and charity work which requires less of a formal time commitment such as 9-5, Monday to Friday. This explains, to a large extent, why women are lagging behind men for top-end honours and why women are holding their own at the lower end. While it’s a shame that this inequality exists, at least we can identify the cause and set about addressing it.
One thing we can all do to address the issue right now is to nominate worthy woman for honours. You have to be in it to win it and I strongly suspect many outstanding candidates are slipping through the net due to apathy.
Lets not forget that the honours system is predominantly about highlighting and rewarding ‘extraordinary ordinary’ people rather than celebrities. On average over 80% of recipients fall in to this category. But you have to be in it to win it so if you know of anyone who is worthy get them nominated because they can’t put themselves forward. You can nominate anyone such as a friend, family member or business contact. If you are unsure if someone is appropriate or worthy we are happy to give you a free honest assessment.
It’s easier for those in the public eye because they get the media coverage and are front of mind. That’s not the case for the so-called ordinary people doing great community and charity work, week in, week out.
There are two types of people who tend to get honours. Firstly, selfless, giving people who such as community and charity workers and and secondly, those who have excelled in their chosen field such as eminent medics, academics, public sector workers and entrepreneurs.
The million-dollar question is have these people gone above and beyond the call of duty? Because people don’t get honours for simply doing their job, or at least they shouldn’t. That is literally the million-dollar question because that’s what a knighthood/damehood or peerage can be worth in terms of earning capacity by leveraging one of these prestigious honours. The reputational benefits and personal branding benefits are immense. If you take Isabel Spearman for example, who received an OBE recently in David Cameron’s resignation honours list. She was Samantha Cameron’s stylist and I suspect people will be queueing the length of Mayfair for her help and advice. She’ll probably double her fees off the back of it too.
So well done Janet, a thoroughly well deserved gong and yes I agree that you are a ‘right royal hypocrite’!
Mark Llewellyn-Slade, CEO