An equal world is an enabled world.
Gender equality is essential for our businesses and communities to thrive. While we may have made progress towards an equal society, there is more that can be done.
In Australia, men and women do not receive equal pay for equal work. The national gender pay gap has remained stable at 13.9%1. On average, men take home over $25,000 a year more pay than women1 and retire with 70% more superannuation than women2. The numbers of older women in Australia who are experiencing, or are at risk of homelessness, has risen over 30% between 2011-20162.
We know what the solutions are – gender equal boardrooms, governments, media coverage, workplaces, health and wealth… But what can we do on a daily basis?
Individually we have the power to do what we can to truly make a positive difference for women everywhere. We are responsible for our own actions, conversations, behaviours and mindsets. We can actively choose to challenge bias and stereotypes, broaden our thinking, and celebrate women’s achievements.
Collectively, each one of us can help create a gender equal world. Let’s be #EachforEqual. This is the theme for International Women’s Day 2020.
To celebrate IWD2020, we invited eight industry leaders to share one thing we can do to impact gender equality. You can see their response on LinkedIn or read their full response below.
What’s the one thing we can do to make a positive impact on gender equality?
- Mentor and be mentored – Diana Zagora, Director TfNSW
“Mentoring others to develop their personal and professional impact is very powerful. I’ve benefited from the words of wisdom from my mentors. I aim to empower those I am currently mentoring – to go further.”
- Challenge the merits – Melissa Jovic, Associate Director TfNSW.
“We need to challenge the merits. Very often we are told how some selection has been made on “merit test”. Our duty of care is to ask the questions: Who established that and when? Are these objectives and criteria still relevant and applicable?”
“Usually these merits are established by the majority of the workforce in mid-twentieth century. And now we are marching through the THIRD decade of 21st century?”
“Our society requires systemic change. The debate needs to happen with structured questions and justified answers. All arguments should be transparent and traceable (a bit of engineering thinking wouldn’t hurt)”
What’s your tip for leaders?
“In order to increase productivity and GDP, please make time and listen, listen, listen.”
- Treat everyone equally and with respect – Judi Zielke, Chief Operating Officer CSIRO.
“Lack of confidence in women can become one of our greatest barriers. With our role as carers we often put everyone else first and jump to fill all the gaps, which automatically puts us last. This isn’t treating everyone equally and often results in us not valuing what we as individuals have to offer. It’s important that everyone remembers that they are special and worthy of support, and are just as vital to society as all other individuals”
- Back each other – Lucy Poole, A/g First Assistant Secretary Digital Transformation Agency
“Back each other – be the ‘first to follow’ the courageous idea being brought forward at the board table or meeting; be the one who gives public praise for good work; be the one who lends a hand when someone looks like they may need it; be the one who gives the constructive feedback and positive reinforcement.”
“There are many things we can do to positively impact gender equality but I chose to highlight this aspect because too often women are fearful of using their voice and being the one to speak first, or fearful of saying something that gets shut down without proper consideration. Sometimes women feel their voice is not strong enough.”
“How many times have we heard about women putting forward an idea at the board table only for it to be ignored then raised again moments later by a male and be a roaring success?”
“When we create an environment where ideas flow easily, where we listen to the voices of many and contest our assumptions, we’re more likely to be innovative and produce better outcomes. This is a key principle of human centered design and a value that the digital transformation agency applies in its day-to-day operations.”
“A great example is the YouTube video of the Sasquatch music festival in Washington where the lone dancer is eventually joined by another dancer, then another and another until hundreds are on their feet dancing. Were it not for that second dancer, it could have ended very differently. The video also illustrates the strength in the group and uniting with others. I’ve always been a big fan of fueling change through communities, both big and small.”
What’s the barrier/s to gender equality?
“I don’t necessarily think this is limited to female leaders, but I do think we have a tendency to play the safe card and shy away from risky or new challenges unless we feel 100% ready to take it on. Yet, if approached in the right way, these opportunities can be a catalyst for growth and development. We need to do more to get the right support mechanisms in place and put our hands up when opportunities arise.”
What’s your tip for action?
“It takes courage being the ‘first follower’, sometimes more than being the first! So I’d recommend applying discretion and thinking about how you do it. And not so much a tip but a word of encouragement – in my experience, women will thank you for supporting them and ‘having their back’ and will go out of their way to return the favour. All good things come around, as they say.”
What’s your tip for leaders?
“The easiest way to encourage it is by leading by example and showing others that you value collegiality and supporting others.”
To read more, come back soon for Part 2 or follow us on LinkedIn for a daily sneak preview.
1 Workplace Gender Equality Agency (2020). “Gender workplace statistics at a glance 2019-20 (February 2020)”
2 Australian Human Rights Commission (2019). “Older Women’s Risk of Homelessness: Background paper. 2019”