Happy International Women’s Day!
People around the globe are taking the day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women and creating a call to action to accelerating gender parity.
The theme for International Women’s Day 2018 (IWD2018) is #pressforprogress and the campaign asks for you to commit to a gender parity mindset.
Recent movements such as #beboldforchange #heforshe #metoo and #timesup have clearly made their mark. “Feminism” was the most looked up word on the Merriam-Webster online dictionary in 2017!
Whilst there are many passionate individual people and groups, it’s clear that many more are now curious.
To mark IWD2018, I sat down with a few of our ATC Community Members, some of Australia’s leading women in Talent, and had a discussion about their own gender equality experiences and how they’re working to make a change.
My thanks and appreciation to Carol Corzo, Raquel Lemon, Kimberley Manning and Alana Bennett for your frank and thoughtful responses.
Jo: Carol, we both started our careers in the 90’s, what’s the biggest contrast between now and then?
Carol: Some of the biggest differences are there was no WGEA when I started my career; the Australian Institute of Company Directors did not focus on women on Boards and there was no male champions of change. All of these organisations are driving significant change in corporate Australia. Organisations also, from my experience, did not know how to effectively deal with discrimination and harassment in the 1990s.
1/10 women report sexual harassment in their current role.
Jo: Kimberly, what’s different for you?
Kimberly: One of the biggest contrasts is the persona of work and personal life is now blurred. I feel blessed now to be able to bring my whole self to work. I feel supported around my choices within my organisation and I can bring my whole personality in all of its colours. I feel more confident in being myself and my company really values this in their people.
Jo: Alana, you’ve said before that you work in an industry with some amazing female leaders, does sexism exist for you with so many women at the top?
Alana: I don’t feel that I have ever been subjected to gender inequality in my career so far – which I know doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. I so feel lucky to work in an industry where there are amazing female leaders. I have grown immensely, I have been led, mentored and coached by incredible women and men, I have led incredible women and men and my focus has always been about the contribution and impact that both I and the people around me have. As for what’s changed for me? Maybe a few grey hairs?! But I’m serious. I may not like them but there’s some power in them.
Jo: I love that. Raquel, how do you handle sexism and sexist ‘jokes’?
Raquel: In my early career, I used to think I had to laugh off sexist jokes or face the label of being a “bad sport”. Today, I shut it down pretty ruthlessly by being swift and direct in calling it out. Only about six or seven years ago I remember entering a room of male colleagues to start a meeting and one of them asking if I had prepared and brought sandwiches for the meeting. One of the other men in the meeting gave him a decent telling off and made him apologise right then and there – I remember being first embarrassed and then relieved. From that point I decided I wouldn’t let it ever go unchecked again.
Only about 6 or 7 years ago I remember entering a room of male colleagues to start a meeting and one of them asking if I had prepared and brought sandwiches for the meeting.
Kimberley: I rarely come across these both at work and in my personal life. I am fortunate to be surrounded by some forward thinking people. Or perhaps people who know me well enough to avoid these topics… a very wise move!
Jo: Carol, on a personal level, what equality barrier do you still face?
Carol: As a mother, there is still not a level playing field for my daughters. A recent Accenture report states that the Gender Pay Gap is unlikely to be closed in my daughter’s work life either. The “Respect, Now, Always” survey in higher education highlights the problem of gender inequity is still prevalent in Australian universities – as much now as it was when I was a university student. What does this mean for my daughters attending university? In terms of my own equity barrier, I had two children and had two periods of parental leave, and that meant two years of no superannuation contributions. The compound interest on this is significant.
Jo: I hear you on the superannuation issue, I’ll be part time for at least another three years!
Kimberley: For me personally, I work full time and my husband has a position that allows him to be more present for our daughter. I am fortunate enough to have some really supportive people in my life and I would not be able to focus on my career without this support from my husband and workplace. I find that at times I really need to justify my schedule and that I am often asked how I manage to spend enough time with my daughter. I have no doubt that if my husband and my positions were reversed, he would not be asked the same questions.
Jo: I get asked the same when I travel. Who’s looking after your child? Ummmm, the other parent of course! Raquel, what can organisations do to make genuine equality a reality?
Raquel: I’d like to see more organisations offer BOTH parents paid leave for primary caring responsibilities. My husband and I were so fortunate following the birth of my son to take turns being his primary carer thanks to the fantastic policy of his employer at the time. It enabled us both to experience the benefits and challenges of being a stay at home parent and made the financial burden of being down to one income more workable.
Jo: How wonderful would that be? A friend recently said his firm offered paid parental leave but only if he was the primary caregiver for the first three months – a stage when women’s bodies are still recovering. Personally, I’d love to see some flexibility and allow paid parental leave anytime within the first year and encourage more fathers to experience true 50/50 of parenthood. I’m grateful that my partner is a school teacher, has 13 weeks of leave each year and is home by 5pm every day. Our time is differently distributed but it is equal.
Raquel: Looking back it was such a special time and allowed my transition back into the workforce to be much less stressful. I have no doubt many dads would love the opportunity to play a more active role in primary caring, but also flexibility more generally to manage the ‘juggle’ of parenting with their careers.
As a mother, there is still not a level playing field for my daughters. A recent Accenture report states that the Gender Pay Gap is unlikely to be closed in my daughter’s work life either.
Jo: Alana, TA is another field with strong female representation. Do you feel like women have an equal voice in Talent Acquisition as a profession?
Alana: Absolutely, I believe that we (men and women) have a voice because of our capability not our gender. My opinion is not sought out because of my gender but rather because of who I am, what I stand for and most importantly what I contribute. My mum was a single mum so I was raised in an environment where there were no defined gender roles, we just did what needed to be done! I have no doubt that has had a massive impact on both who I can be and my perception of “voice”.
Jo: You and Carol have both spoken at our events in the past and Raquel is speaking at ATC2018. We chase the best stories and it’s only by accident that there may be an imbalance, but that’s where we step in and think “this story is a good one so who else could tell it?”
Alana: I honestly would never think that I couldn’t share my voice because of my gender. I appreciate that this is not the case for everyone but the beauty is it’s within our control to change!
Jo: Carol, your latest role is actually in Diversity and Inclusion. What’s your recommendation for progress?
Carol: Men and women both need to #pressforprogress, inclusion takes more than words it takes action. Have you considered gender equity in your workplace? The intersection of diversity? Did you know that 1/10 women report sexual harassment in their current role? Twice as many for LGBTIQ, CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) women, students and women with disabilities.
#pressforprogress and curate an inclusive environment that supports your organisation’s diverse workforce.
Jo: Thank you ladies, my sincere thanks and appreciation to you all!
Would you like to #pressforprogress and do more to accelerate gender parity? Here’s a few things the folks at IWD suggest:
Happy IWD2018! How will you #pressforprogress in 2018?
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