This café tried a controversial way of addressing the gender pay gap (and some people were very angry)

Chris Matyszczyk


Delicious. Quite delicious.

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.

Are you stunned that there might be Google engineers who think women have limited skills?

Neither am I.

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Gender discrimination remains all-pervasive and too many CEOs seem to think that men should be paid more than women.

That's why I find the Handsome Her Caf's new gender policy uplifting.

The café, in Brunswick, Australia put up a chalkboard with three rules.

Rule No. 2 is the most controversial: Men will be charged an 18 percent premium to reflect the gender pay gap (20 percent), which is donated to a women's service."

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The other rules? Women have priority seating and, finally, respect goes both ways.

The surcharge only occurs for one week every month. It's also voluntary.

However, Handsome Her's owner, Alex O'Brien told Broadsheet Melbourne: "I do want people to think about it, because we've had this (pay discrepancy) for decades and decades and we're bringing it to the forefront of people's minds. I like that it is making men stop and question their privilege a little bit."

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Naturally, not everyone is impressed with O'Brien's initiative. Especially those on Twitter who have little better to do than offer quasi-ideological abuse.

Why not, though, see it as something that's perfectly in line with the café's brand image?

It expressly describes itself as "a space by women, for women."

And, as O'Brien said on Facebook, business has been wonderful since the rules emerged.

Women bring their daughters in especially to see that the world can look -- and think -- different.

"We've had men travel across town to visit us and pay 'the man tax' and throw some extra in the donation jar -- guys, you're pretty neat," O'Brien said.

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It's easy, of course, to tar the café with peddling the very same sexism to which it objects. It's easy to wail that the surcharge is hypocritical.

You could, though, just think of it as the sort of controversial communication that gets people to consider a few painful realities.

Of course, the message needs an even larger platform.

What say you, legendarily liberal Starbucks? Are you willing to embrace the concept?