Gender Equality starts with the CEO!

The CEO is the most important person in an organisation when building gender equality. It is near impossible to move the organisation to gender equality and an inclusive culture if the CEO does not passionately want their organisation to change.

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Here are some articles to support the case for gender equality

Be aware of why gender equality benefits men as well

So what should a CEO do to show they support gender equality?

  1. Develop a clear, succinct and personal statement about why gender equality is important to them personally
  2. Use that statement on the website, in the annual report and on all forms of communication so that it sticks
  3. Measure and review the metrics of your organisation including hiring, promoting and remuneration of women
  4. Build gender equality goals into the REM of the senior leaders team to ensure they know you are serious.
  5. Review your WGEA and annual reports to ensure you know the situation in your organisation
  6. Understand “unconscious bias” and how this plays into assumptions made about women (and men) in the work place.
  7. Understand how our community has changed with more pressure on families to have two salaries and more involvement by men with their families.
  8. Build sponsoring and mentoring programs to facilitate talented men and women into leadership roles.
  9. Build realistic and achievable gender equality targets for your organisation and ensure they are communicated and metrics reviewed regularly.
  10. Understand this is a challenging cultural issue that will require ongoing and long-term focus.

Show that you are serious about gender equality outside your organisation

  1. Become a “Champion of Change” in your state or industry sector so that you have the opportunity to meet with other CEO’s supporting Gender Equality
  2. Become an Equal Pay Ambassador with and commit to ensuring gender pay equality in your organisation
  3. Sign up to HEforSHE (
  4. Offer your time to share what is working for you to achieve gender equality in your organisation.

Remember gender equality is not women’s business it is everyone’s business and research shows it makes good business!

Privilege is invisible to the privileged!

We are often surprised that privileged people appear unable to see their own privilege.  This has been very obvious in the last few years in our political scene with comments from Joe Hockey especially showing his total lack of understanding of the life styles of others in Australia.  The sense of entitlement displayed by Bronwyn Bishop is a further recent example.

Yesterday we were fortunate to have Dr Michael Kimmel ( in Sydney and I attended three events where he spoke.  His messages on privilege were most timely.

Michael Kimmel is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University in New York. He is also the executive director at the Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities. An author or editor of more than twenty books, including Manhood in America, The Gendered Society, The History of Men, and Guyland, he lives with his family in Brooklyn, New York.

Here are some clips you may enjoy:

Many of the key messages from his talk.

Sociologist Michael Kimmel presents what he calls a comprehensive diagnosis of the fears, anxieties and rage of America’s angry white male. He argues that many white men see increased gender and racial equality as a major contributor to their downward mobility. He discusses his research with author of “The End of Men,” Hanna Rosin.

Integrity conflicts at work – can you stay?

I am often asked about how to handle the value of integrity if you don’t feel it is demonstrated in the workplace. It may be about inclusion, gender equality, promotion, remuneration, value of employees or many other areas.  These people feel that their integrity is compromised by what they observe at work.

For instance, there may be a policy of inclusion and yet is is obvious that the behaviours in the workplace exclude those of a different racial background or women. Sometimes this can be a subconscious block rather than a lack of desire to be inclusive. Maybe a group arranging staff activities are not aware how exclusive they may be in their invitations. Can you offer alternate suggestions and share that this may be more acceptable to more of the employees.

Another common comment is that promotion is meant to be on merit, however many positions even if advertised internally are seen to be a fait accompli. Other applicants are really not in the picture. Perhaps you can ask how you can be considered equally for the next position or ask what skills they were able to demonstrate.  You may feel you have the skills but perhaps need to work on you presence to make your skills more apparent.

It is an extremely difficult situation especially for a more junior employee.  Before taking any step I suggest seeking wise counsel from a trusted internal or external mentor to ensure that your perceptions are clear and valid. Then work with them on an action plan on how you can best approach the issue.  Remember that the behaviour they are exhibiting may be subconscious. Perhaps the organisation has a confidential feedback mechanism that you can use. Perhaps there is a senior manager you can talk with or HR. It is better if several of you feel the same way and you can speak up together.

However sometimes you can only find the manager and workplace that you desire by moving on.

I am alarmed….

Many years ago, John Howard quipped ….”be alert but not alarmed”

However, as a passionate Australian I am alarmed.  Here are some of the things that are alarming me

1.  The treatment of Gillian Triggs.  She is standing up for the framework of democracy.  I don’t trust Peter Dutton when he gives himself the power to make decisions about citizenship, and when he speaks of judicial review and it does not appear able to question how he will make the decision.  His attack on Gillian is unconscionable:

2.  I don’t think Joe Hockey has any idea of financial situation of two young people earning a minimum wage and how they could every buy houses in Sydney.  He appears to have no empathy and has lost touch with costs.

3.  The planned changes to PPL appear to make the current PPL less generous than before.  After the promises of, in my view, an overly generous PPL we now have a situation where the payments are likely to going backwards if they are linked to the reduction of other payments.

4.  There is so much emphasis on the terror threat from IS that we are not addressing the terror in which many women live, nor the terror faced by young children who were abused by both Catholics and Anglicans.  Can I please see and equal investment in keeping women and children safe.  What about the charges against members of the CMFEU.

5.  Our gender equality metrics are appalling compared to others western countries.  What has the government really done to show they care about gender equality in the workplace.  The most strategic actions have come from the ASX and AICD.  Our government is silent.

6.  Why have we allowed lobbying to give a casino to James Packer with no process.  Are we sure the bribery is not something that may be closer to home.

7.  Why do we allow the cruise ship lobby to try to say that the proposed changes will have such an impact on their business.  The NSW proposal is only to start putting us in line with WW standards

8.  Why is climate change not on our agenda.  We developed excellent solar technology which now has moved overseas.  I am sure our energy sector is lobby strongly to stop any move away from coal.

Our country is meant to be a democracy, but we have lowered our gaze solely to the next election.  The industry lobby groups push their agendas which may or may not be for the good of our society.  How to we return to a real democracy with a vision for the future for all our citizens.  If this is the best we can do, our future is bleak.

Are you integrated?

Let’s move our conversation from Work/Life Balance to Work/Life Integration so that we don’t constantly bemoan our lack of balance.

As work becomes more flexible, life and work become more integrated and we need to challenge ourselves on the limits we set to ensure we make room for the things that matter to us.  What are the actions you can take to ensure that you don’t “train” others that you are available 7 x 24 for work?  Can you turn the phone off without feeling guilty?  Can you cut some time in your day for exercise – when, how and what? Do you make time for the things that matter for your family?  When did you last invest in your own development – what have you done this year?  Are your health checks and tax returns up to date?

If you are not comfortable with your responses then it may be time to reflect on your priorities.  Life is not a dress rehearsal!

I love Dilbert

Great article from HBR

Executives speak out on gender equality but….

Executives speak out – again and again – on gender equality.  They say they support it, they write about it, they say they are actioning it and say it is a business imperative.

But have they stepped out of their comfort zone, accepted that their biases, their leadership style, their remuneration plans may not demonstrate this to those across the organisation.  If those who interact with the leader day by day don’t feel it then it is unlikely to happen.

One leader who strongly supports gender equality told me recently, when their small daughter said they wanted to work in a hospital …. quick as a flash he said “you will make a wonderful nurse”.  It was a moment to stop and think about the underlying assumptions that were still active subconsciously.  Yes … he then said or a doctor or surgeon ….

When leaders talk about their vision of gender equality it will only be taken seriously if their actions demonstrate that they are serious!