Image: Guest speaker Kate Mason of CCA inspired guests to consider how ‘together we succeed’
“The NAWO SA Launch was an overwhelming success and exceeded all of my expectations. The launch provided a platform for all participants from organisations to engage and develop a far better appreciation of the diverse and challenging roles undertaken by women in the workforce. The presenters were excellent, providing inspiration and motivation to all those present. I feel participants went away feeling proud of their roles and optimistic for the future knowing that NAWO will provide the support, encouragement and mentoring required for women to be successful in their chosen roles. NAWO in South Australia will continue to grow following the success of the launch.” – Jenny McAuliffe – Executive General Manager People, ARTC; Chair, NAWO SA State Committee
On the 5th of August, members of NAWO’s inaugural South Australian State Committee proudly welcomed 100 guests to the launch of NAWO’s South Australian chapter, generously hosted by Coca-Cola Amatil (a Gold NAWO Corporate Member).
NAWO’s Louise Weine shared a video link of The Hon. Zoe Bettison MP welcoming NAWO to SA.
The event opened with a video message from the Honourable Zoe Bettison MP, Minister for the Status of Women, welcoming NAWO to SA.
The amazing Kate Mason – Chief Transformational Officer, CCA, then shared her career journey and learnings, followed by our inspirational panellists – Megan McCracken – GM Safety, People and Corporate Affairs, Brookfield Rail; Genevieve Rueger – Major, Australian Army Aviation Corps; Con Tragakis – Chairman of Partners, KPMG SA – discussing some of the key issues around gender diversity in operational business and non-traditional work roles. Jenny McAuliffe – Executive GM People, ARTC, and Chair of the SA NAWO Committee – did a tremendous job as Moderator for the discussion.
Following are the key learnings from the event:
Kate Mason – Together we succeed.
Kate shared with us very personal details of her career journey, the challenges she has overcome and the opportunities that she has taken and her 6 key tips for success.
- Always be driven by your values.
- Say yes to the opportunities that come your way – even if they look a little unworkable at first.
- It’s up to you (not your partner, not your boss, not your family).
- A career is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself.
- Continue to ask for what you need to succeed.
- Have passion and give back to the community.
Kate’s closing message was “advocate for one another, support one another, open doors for one another” – women need to support other women. This is really important for women to remember, advocating for one another like men do is something women haven’t always done.
Left to right: Megan McCracken, Jenny McAuliffe, Con Tragakis, Kate Mason and Genevieve Rueger
Panellists addressed the following questions:
- How do you define gender equality? What do you understand to be the current state of gender equity in operational businesses in SA?
- What challenges has your organisation had to overcome, or is working through, to achieve greater gender diversity?
- What’s in it for men? How can conversations about gender in the workplace be more open, honest and non-threatening?
- Flexible work – what does it mean? How can organisations give more flexibility without feeling like they have lost the benefits they perceive come from having people present at all times?
- What support or assistance did you have or would you have liked to have had to help you face any challenges in your career?
With respect to the state of play in SA, key statistics were provided by participating companies prior to the event and shared at the event, and the following data was sourced from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA):
- In SA, the pay gap is on par with the national average – base salary gender pay gap of 19.2%, and 22.1% when total remuneration is considered.
- Women are well represented in SA’s workforce, accounting for 51.5% of all employees. However the picture is less rosy as each rung further up the ladder is investigated (figures averaged across all of the industries covered by WGEA’s data):
- 36% of Managers
- 9% of Key Management personnel
- 3% of CEOs/Heads of Business
- And, while there are slightly more female board members (33.4%), just 19.4% of Board Chairs are women.
Key panel discussion outcomes:
Megan McCracken during the panel discussion
- SA has tremendous opportunity (despite the challenging business environment) in areas such as NDIS, Defence, Health and in the Digital Economy. We need to ensure we are sourcing the best talent, regardless of gender to take advantage of these opportunities and grow the SA economy. This requires access to 100% of the talent pool, not 50%.
- Making gender equality a reality in traditionally male work environments requires strong leadership and a commitment to change (we had to replace our recruiter because they could not deliver to our target of 50/50 on shortlists when recruiting).
- A global market requires an agile workforce. This offers a unique opportunity to review how we deliver our services in a manner that suits the individual, the company and the client, and to better attract and retain female talent at all levels.
- “If you can’t see it there is less chance of you wanting to be it” – we need to work hard to seek out role models that will inspire women to take on new opportunities, and to ensure that the right support is provided to give these women the best chance of success.
- Start planting the seed re ‘alternative’ career paths for girls when they are in school by ensuring the language we put around jobs is not gendered. Eg: Fire Officer v Fireman.
- Challenge real versus perceived physical capacity required to perform specific jobs in order to debunk some of the traditional “physicality” constraints.
- Challenge the traditional view of ‘merit’ based appointments and the definition of what it takes to be successful in particular jobs.
- Flexibility is not just for women. and it is not a “laissez faire, not accountable style of working”. It is a two way conversation, coming to agreement about arrangements that benefit both the individual and the organisation. It’s about how to best deliver outcomes. Keep asking “why can’t it be done flexibly?”
- There is more flexibility the higher up the tree you climb. Want more flexibility? Move yourself up to bigger, more autonomous roles.
- Make sure you have strong sponsors (in addition to mentors) who are present and supportive of you in those ‘behind closed door’ discussions. Find yourself a great, professional coach. Find a number of people who inspire you – people who are role models in different ways. There is unlikely to be one person who is inspiring in every dimension.
- When I came back to my professional career after 5 years looking after my children I was shocked at that attitudes of recruiters who somehow thought that I had lost my mind in those 5 years. Recruiters told me I would have to accept a lesser role and start again. I refused to accept that. It should not be this hard to get back into your professional career and recruiters and hiring managers need to change their views re: women and men returning to work after taking time out – whether it be for caring for family or any other sabbatical.
- Your partner in life must share your values in relation to shared responsibility for the care of children, the importance of financial literacy and independence for women and a level playing field in all aspects of life.
- Really, if you don’t change diversity at the top of the organisation, but think you’ll get change in the rest of the organisation, then you have rocks in your head.
Operational industries need to improve their ability to build a pipeline of female talent to succeed key management positions. Without doubt, the one key overarching takeaway from this event was that by creating the right environment for improved gender diversity in the workplace, we are actually making workplaces more supportive for EVERY person… and making workplaces more attractive to the best talent, regardless of gender. Smart business really is everyone’s business.
Thank you to the terrific women who have stepped up to be volunteers on NAWO’s SA State Committee. They are now planning the next event on the SA calendar, to be hosted by BlueScope on the 25th of October. Details coming soon…
NAWO’s inaugural SA State Committee. Left – right: Amanda Charalambous (BlueScope), Linda Medder (Bluescope), Jenny McAuliffe (ARTC), Amanda Cech (CCA), (Absent: Belinda Grant (Orora)