GENDER AND PAY EQUALITY – ARE THEY IMPROVING?
By Katrina Park
Studies consistently show that gender bias and the gender pay gap is real. Preliminary results of Gender Equality Data 2017 /18 shows full-time women continue to earn less than full-time men in every industry and occupation. Whilst many organisations are taking measurable steps to implement gender equality, and inclusive and diverse policies, educating business leaders and managers is the key to success.
On the 7th March, the day before International Women’s Day, my organisation, Resource Solutions Group, addressed this very topic at our annual “Women in Technology” High Tea lunch. It was truly a great way to celebrate International Women’s Day – intimate, honest and open – we brought together strong, likeminded, extraordinary women who want to make a difference.
In attendance were a number of senior female technology leaders who have each in their own right forged very successful careers. Our two keynote speakers were Anna Leibel (Chief Information Officer at Unisuper) and Fi Slaven (General Manager at William Buck) – two extraordinary women who are huge advocates for diversity and equality and have worked tirelessly to drive this.
In addition to Anna Leibel’s business achievements, Anna is an active advocate across the industry for diversity and inclusion within business and technology; she demonstrates her passion for developing others through her motivational speaking, published blogs and coaching of start-ups.
Fi Slaven also loves her work in the technology and business field, with her other passion being about supporting sustained change in relation to diversity and equality. Fi is a board member of the Vic ICT for Women Network and Director of Go Girl, Go for IT. This year’s ‘Go Girl, Go For IT’ is shaping up to make history once again with a huge turnout forecast – some 2000+ school girls will be attending the event on 16th of August at Deakin University.
International Women’s Day is a significant day and one where we have an opportunity to recognise the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Whilst women have come a long way in their achievements over the years, or rather the recognition of their achievements, we still have a long way to go to ensure that the future for women is bright, safe, rewarding and equal.
For International Women’s Day 2017 we were encouraged to #BeBoldforChange. In 2016, we were invited to support the #PledgeforParity campaign. And in 2018, the focus is on #PressforProgress.
With the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report findings telling us that gender parity is over 200 years away – there has never been a more important time to keep motivated and #PressforProgress. And with global activism for women’s equality fuelled by movements like #MeToo, #TimesUp and more – there is a strong global push for gender parity – a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. A strong call to #PressforProgress.
Whilst we know that gender parity won’t happen overnight, the good news is that across the world women are making positive progress each day. Collectively, we can all Press for Progress.
Fi Slaven suggested to our audience that “it doesn’t have to be huge things, speaking up when something isn’t right”, and “Gently chipping away and not accepting bad behaviours”.
Anna Leibel offered “Change management is about managing stakeholders and your messaging. And for me, men are a massive stakeholder group in terms of us helping with this change. So my focus more is now on helping them to see what it means to have a diverse workforce and break away from the stigma. So I really support having targets but it should be a measure not a driver”.
As Fi said, “Diversity makes good business sense”. Fi also added “Well I’d like to think that every day is IWD. I’m delighted to be part of it and support it, but I lament that we have to have a day. I would like to just have equity and then celebrate great people. I’m very supportive but honestly, if I didn’t come to another IWD event because there was parity, that to me would be success.” “I don’t want to let it go because we’re not there”.
Fi went on to say “If I have my way, we won’t be all middle aged and white, or white. If I have my way there will be diversity of culture, religion, and disabilities”.
Anna advised the audience that “we all have some element of control over who we hire and creating diverse teams. So think about in your capacity how can you help influence an outcome.”
Anna also highlighted the importance of creating a truly flexible workforce and the need for leaders to think about how we can make it work.
Each one of us can be a leader within our own spheres of influence by taking bold pragmatic action to accelerate gender parity. We all have a role to play in challenging conscious and unconscious bias; pushing for gender-balanced leadership; valuing everyone’s contributions; and creating inclusive and flexible cultures.
Through collaboration, we can all help women advance.
So as we celebrate the women in our lives, take some time to think about how you are helping to improve gender equality in your organisation and in your life.
It takes a village to create real change in society and I hope all women (and men) will make this commitment with me. Changes in attitudes and behaviours can go a long way toward building a more equal future for today’s girls and boys.