Seven years ago, on International Women’s Day, Marie Claire released a video about an issue that affects every one of us. It highlighted gender discrimination in a raw and, for some, very confronting way.
As we sit here today, how far have we actually come?
Australia’s national gender pay gap has hovered between 13% and 19% for the past two decades. With an increase of 0.8 percentage points to 14.2% since November 2020. Today women still earn on average $261.50 per week less than men. Board membership is gaining momentum with women constituting around 30% of members. However, 29.8% of companies have no female representation at all.
The pay gap is not all. The stories I hear from professional women about how they are treated in senior roles in our organisations just make me angry and sad.
Throughout my corporate career, I’ve been involved in sponsoring all manner of diversity and inclusion initiatives and groups. Why? Because I have a passion for supporting women to be successful and the best they can be. For organisations to truly leverage the potential that exists, often latently, with their female leaders. To say I’m disappointed in the progress we have collectively made for women is an understatement.
In 2013 I decided to do more about changing this. My passion to support women as they rise to more senior levels of influence in organisations was the driving force behind The Leadership Connection, a six-month program I created and have the privilege to chair.
Whilst we have received many testimonials over the years running this program, one story stands out for me.
We received a 2-page letter from a participant with her reflections on her learnings. She starts by telling the story of a group of her Vietnamese colleagues who, after a terrifying experience crossing a lake by boat, tell her their mandatory swim lessons at school had all been theoretical, they had no idea how to swim. “Reflecting on this, it struck me that being told how to do something and actually doing it can have very different outcomes”. She goes on to say “Recently, I’ve been fortunate enough to have been deeply engaged in The Leadership Connection (…). This has truly been an experience in “doing” rather than “theory”. A veritable advanced swim class for the enthusiastic athlete who is looking to improve their performance”.
Yes, there is much work to be done inside organisations, to elevate the leadership and the behaviours that ensure an inclusive culture and enable women to rise successfully to the top. And that is where much of our effort should be going. This, after all, is a leadership challenge to solve.
But we also need to get our women ready to step up. To increase their influence and impact and fully leverage their potential. This critical investment in women’s development can start here. There are only a few spots left on our next TLC program that commences in February 2022, so if you are ready to take the leap and invest in your future, please contact me directly or you can download a brochure here.
I have so many great women in my life…my family, friends, team and clients. We need to make better progress for everyone. I urge you to watch the Marie Claire video and share it with both the women and men in your lives and demand better.