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Emma Watson – He for She – A Gender Equality Movement

I think Emma Watson spoke for all forward thinking people in our community when she inspired and moved the UN audience through her presentation in 2014. Her presentation to the UN was a nervous one, but one full of hope and expectation and was a call to action. Scroll to the end of this Blog to see her UN presentation. But here Emmsa speaks further about the ‘He for She’ movement on International Women’s day in 2015.

EWThe Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) in Australia recently released its groundbreaking research on gender equality. After you watch Emma, scroll down for fast facts from this significant research:

Fast Facts:

  • women comprise a quarter of management positions despite making up half the workforce;
  • Women are paid 24.7 per cent less than men who perform the same work;
  • 13.6 per cent of employers have a strategy for flexible working and only 7.1 per cent of employers have an articulated stand-alone strategy to achieve gender equality.

Just under half the 11000 employers covered by the report offered paid parental leave on top of the scheme introduced by the former Labor government.

Gender Equality Agency director Helen Conway said the message from the report was that “at every level the workplace pipeline is blocked for women”.

Key Findings:

  • While making up 48.5 per cent of the workforce, women account for just 35.8 per cent of full-time employees and only 17.3% of CEO/Head of Business positions
  • Men fill 76.24%of directorships, 88.12%of board chairmanships and 82.7% of chief executive positions.
  • The proportion of women declines as management levels approach the chief executive level, with women comprising less than 30% of CEOs’ direct report.
  • The gender pay gap is almost 19.9% for base pay but rises to almost 25 % for total remuneration.
  • The biggest total remuneration gender gap is in financial and insurance services (36.1 per cent), while the narrowest gap is in education and training (9.6 per cent).
  • While almost one in every two employers has a gender remuneration strategy, only 18.1 per cent have pay equity objectives as part of the strategy.

It’s time men ‘Leaned In’ to address gender inequality

I attended the recent Marie Claire success summit in Sydney. I wanted to attend because I feel strongly that women in work in Australia need men to be actively engaged on this issue of gender equality. I felt I needed to be a part of the conversation that is going on. I was one of 2 men who attended the summit that was attended by over 700 women delegates. We enjoyed listening to amazing women speakers who had powerful messages to share.

Frankly, I was surprised so few men attended. Gender equality is not simply a women’s issue. It is a whole of community issue. The business case is now done and dusted, gender equality is a good thing and we must collectively and resolutely resolve this issue. Just as Sheryl Sandberg through her book called for women to ‘lean in’ and to participate, so it is for men.

Through my work I hear men say “I just don’t see inequality”, “it is not really an issue in 2014”. However, just because gender inequality is not ‘seen’, does not mean it does not exist. It does.

Men in denial or worse, men who are disinterested or disengaged are in fact adding to the problem instead of being involved in the solution. Risk to Business continues to investigate matters of discrimination, sexual harassment and workplace bullying throughout Australia. Our own research in  clearly indicates it is still going on in Australia. On occasion we are perplexed about how those behaviours can still occur in the 21st century.

Gender Inequality – Fast Facts:

• There is an 18.2% pay gap between genders across the board in Australia;
• Of the 226 seats in the Federal Parliament, 69 are held by women, and women comprise 29.0 per cent of all parliamentarians in Australia. Only have one woman holding a top job in the cabinet. Women hold half the voting power in Australia;
• 36 of the ASX200 still have no female representation on Boards and the latest document states the percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 18.6% (31 August 2014) according to the AICD;
• The average superannuation account balance for women was $40,475, compared to $71,645 for men. Men have round 63% of total superannuation account balances, compared to 37% for women. Most women live longer and will likely retire without sufficient funds to sustain them;
• Like Australia, women in the US continue to outpace men in educational achievement, but women’s participation has stalled in progress at the top of any industry. In the US women hold around 14% of Fortune 500 executive-officer positions and about 17% of board seats, numbers that have barely improved over the last decade.

Women do not need us men to ‘fix’ them, or to fix the ‘problem’, but to work alongside them and with them to overcome the clear inequalities that exist in Australia.

I heard Elizabeth Broderick speak powerfully of her concerns around gender inequality, and how important the male champions of change program is to change. A few days later Elizabeth Broderick received an award and recognition as the most influential woman in 2014. Her Male Champions of Change program, which puts powerful men at the forefront of updating attitudes about the capability and place of women at top levels of business, is being replicated in other states, and in various industries. These male champions are ‘leaning in’. More action is needed.

So, I pose the question. What can you do as a man, a husband, a business owner, operator, manager, a leader, and a father, do to lean in? Think about it and get involved in debate and action. What will your legacy be on this important issue? If you need help on a starting point, contact me.

Discrimination in Australian Workplaces – Looking Into The Past Can Help

Looking into the past can help us in the present. It’s 1957. Imagine being in this jury room. A man’s life is on the line. You are one of 12 people deciding on his fate. You have just left the court room. You saw him in the Dock, and he appeared fearful and perhaps sad. The air in the jury room is thick with tension. You and your peers are confronted by a person who is vocal in his stereotyping of ‘these people’, and he seeks to gain support toward a decision he wants. What would you do? What leadership would you show?


 

I love this scene from ’12 Angry Men’ because it explores the risks created through discrimination and bias and it demonstrates the rallying power of leadership and objective challenge based on values. Discrimination in Australian workplaces continues to be a concern. The conversation around discrimination in this country has predominantly been around the treatment of our indigenous people. The problem however remains broader, as our research suggests:

14% of 5000 (1 in 7) working Australians surveyed by Risk to Business in 2011/12 reported experiencing discrimination at work.

  • The discrimination was verbal and mainly occurred during meetings (it was public, just like in the jury room)
  • It happens at all levels irrespective of position
  • It happened most during organisational restructure
  • The older we are the greater the risk
  • Those people felt angry and hurt
  • They felt:
    • upset and emotional
    • sad, depressed and had suicidal thoughts
    • unsupported, alone and undervalued
    • would leave their job if they could
  • 15% reported victimisation when they raised a concern
  • Only 14% of respondents reported that their organisation made things better (86% did nothing or made things worse)

The cost?

  • 14% reported reduced productivity
  • 15% took 1 to 5 days sick leave
  • 12% took 6 to 10 days sick leave
  • 13% took 11 to 30 days sick leave
  • 10% took more than 30 days sick leave
  • 36% took no time reporting reduced motivation
  • observers who saw discrimination reported reduced productivity and motivation
  • Loss of team based trust and engagement is harder to measure

Of the workers reporting discrimination, the industry sectors they were working in at the time were represented from highest to lowest as:

  • Emergency Services and the Resources sectors;
  • Health;
  • Transport;
  • Government, Business & Finance, and Professional Services sectors;
  • Energy, Retail, and Hospitality;

I believe we can do better.  What values do you apply through your leadership. Change happens through leadership at every level, processes and systems. Change happens through how we talk about discrimination as a community, and change happens through policy, regulation and enforcement. We all have a voice that we can use for good or for bad. The choice is ours. The standard we pass by is the standard we adopt.