LET’S CHAT: Bend the Gender Gap

June 1, 2016

LET’S CHAT: Bend the Gender Gap

Behind every successful woman is a tribe of other successful women who have her back. We are passionate, resilient, empathetic and goal-driven and bring a much-needed skillset to the table. So why is it that the majority of workplaces across Australia continue to remain unbalanced, where women are not considered equal?

Every day I’m surrounded by intelligent, talented and creative women here at Profile magazine, which boasts a predominantly-female workplace, with the exception of Wade who manages our distribution team (and also happens to be my husband).

The dynamic of a female-dominated office is carefully orchestrated to bring out the best in everyone, and that’s particularly true here.

I recently read a super powerful column by entrepreneur Zeynep Ilgaz in Forbes magazine, who said, “When women adopt leadership roles, they contribute a unique set of skills, ideas and life experiences that can broaden the entire company’s insight, strategies and bottom line”.

Zeynep says it’s up to businesses, especially those led by women, to recruit and nurture talented female leaders, by creating a supportive environment actively empowering women to lead by:

Encouraging mentorship and collaboration

Women increase their chances of succeeding in business when they have mentors to provide real-life examples.

Being a family-friendly business

Having a family should never deter anyone – man or woman – from pursuing a career. Create an atmosphere that nurtures family life with benefits like flexible work schedules, on-site childcare and education.

Encouraging involvement

Women should feel comfortable vocalising their ideas – not just agreeing with their male counterparts to protect themselves politically. Encourage everyone to speak up.

With women making up 46 per cent of the workforce in Australia, it’s interesting to look at the role we play and how the balance of power is skewed when it comes to women holding corporate leadership positions.

According to the Federal Government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women represent 15.4 per cent of CEO positions in Australia, 14.2 per cent of chair positions, 23.6 per cent of directorships and 27.4 per cent of key management personnel. One-quarter of organisations have no women in key management positions.

It’s a battle that has been fought in boardrooms and on the streets since the late 1960s – equality among the sexes – and while stiletto-strides have been made, there is still a lot more work to be done.

But it’s also worth noting some women’s priorities unexpectedly shift when it comes to their careers and having a family. Some are career-driven and have every intention of returning to work full-time after having children, but change their minds to either return part-time or not at all.

It’s vital we continue to work hard and celebrate the women among us. Don’t tear them down – we are tomorrow’s leaders.”

Speaking on International Women’s Day this year, Federal Minister for Women Michaelia Cash, who is one of six female cabinet ministers, argued for increased workplace flexibility, “to ensure that it’s the norm rather than the exception”.

“Working full-time and being the primary breadwinner is too often seen as a ‘choice’ that men make in the same way that working part-time is seen as a ‘choice’ for women,” she said.

“But neither is a genuine choice. Men and women are ‘funnelled into’ these choices by societal and workplace expectations of women as the ‘ideal carer’ and men as the ‘ideal worker’.”

So in order to keep the momentum going, it’s vital we continue to work hard and celebrate the women among us. Don’t tear them down – we are tomorrow’s leaders.

And as Senator Cash says, “To achieve, you work hard, and to achieve more, you simply work harder. Don’t fall into the trap of making excuses – be bold, be brave and always back yourself”.

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