From the National Director

NAWO e-newsletter Issue 5, July-August 2016

inspiring results

Louise Weine

“NAWO’s focus is on practical and pragmatic actions that each and every one of us can initiate and control.”

The year in review

It was with great pride that I presented NAWO’s 2015-16 Annual Report at our AGM at the end of July. In 2015/16 we have achieved great results aligned to our 2015 Strategic plan. We focused on our three strategic objectives, Be Known, Be Effective, and Deeper Engagement. Our end of year financial result reflects our investment in our brand, our systems and our programs. This investment has positioned NAWO very well for ongoing growth in our corporate and individual memberships.

Our objective through this growth is to build greater momentum. More members means more knowledge share, networking, mentoring, role modelling, professional development & problem solving, and we believe that this will result in more female talent in operational leadership roles.

True to our motto “inspiration at work” NAWO can be very proud of its differentiating qualities;

  • Multi-industry insights and connections
  • A deep understanding of operational workplaces
  • A positive and pragmatic approach to change
  • The active involvement of men
  • The support of highly regarded volunteers

The breadth of operational industries NAWO supports has increased. Our membership now spans Manufacturing, Mining, Transport, Postal, Utilities, Retail, and Agriculture and we are well placed to expand into the sectors of IT, Media and Telecommunications. This breadth establishes NAWO as the peak body championing women in operations. The number of women in key management positions across these industries varies from a low of 12.3 (construction) to a high of 27.4% (mining and utilities) (Source: WGEA 2015). It is these statistics that NAWO aspires to help change by supporting our member organisations in the attraction, retention and development of female talent.

NAWO’s vision is clear – a world where women and men can can be equally represented and valued at every level. Seems to state the obvious, and some would argue that this world already exists. However, only 27% of key management positions are held by women in Australia across all industries.

Female workplace participation is influenced by a broad context, over which we have little direct economy, and societal values and paradigms, have an impact on progress towards our vision. To illustrate;

  • In Australian politics, female representation is very slowly increasing, however there are examples of greater commitment to change such as the Victorian Government setting a target of 50:50 representation on Government appointed Boards.
  • In Australian sport it has been a year of wins – the introduction of a women’s AFL league, more women’s sport featured on free to air television and some spectacular wins by our female teams on the international arena, including the brilliant Matilda’s soccer team. However, we had to support the Matilda’s when they went on strike to demand a pay rise – not for wage parity with men, but for the minimum wage.
  • In Australian boardrooms 42% of boardroom hires onto the ASX200 this year have been female. Compared to only 5% in 2009, this is good progress but still a long way short of what is needed to achieve the target of 30% of women on boards by 2020.
  • Economically, business and consumer confidence is low, the resources boom is over, and commodity prices remain low. Real wage growth is minimal and unemployment and underemployment in various geographic and demographic groups, including women, is of concern.
  • Societal assumptions about the family unit, and systems that continue to support these assumptions result in the majority of primary carers being female. This, together with lower average rates of pay for women influences workplace participation in many different ways.

I pose these reflections on the broader context as a reminder that this is not an easy problem to solve. NAWO’s focus is on practical and pragmatic actions that each and every one of us can initiate and control. The events and programs facilitated by NAWO encourage us to identify where we can improve in our behaviours and our choices, such as the language we use (in the workplace and at home), the opportunities we seek for ourselves and others and the systemic support we can provide within our organisations. NAWO members are part of an association full of exceptional people, all leading within their own “circles of control” to attract, retain and develop women in operations.

Looking forward, as NAWO’s membership continues to grow and we focus on delivering to our 2016-18 strategic plan, establishing baseline measures of our success is a key priority. In the next year we will implement systems to ensure that we can measure step change progress with respect to the number of women in our network achieving their chosen career goals. Additionally, our increased focus on knowledge share between NAWO’s member companies in identifying practical, industry solutions and initiatives will deliver even greater value to our members.

On behalf of the NAWO operational team I thank our Board for their ongoing support, dedication and passion, and of course our wonderful volunteers and members for their exceptional support and participation in 2015/16.

Finally, a huge thank you to the small dedicated team of part time contractors. You are all a true example of what can be achieved with a shared passion, a plan and a highly flexible work environment.

Louise Weine


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