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#PledgeForParity – It Takes All Of Us, Working Together, To Drive Change

By March 7, 2016No Comments

IWDToday, the 8th March, marks #IWD2016 – a day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women as well as highlighting incredible amounts of discrimination and lack of parity that continues to exist around the world.

How much progress are we really making? Is it all puff and bravado or are we really walking the talk of driving change, together?

The rapidity with which senior female figures are disappearing, whether through a move to entrepreneurial efforts, not for profit, or simply because they have had enough of banging their head against that still incredibly thick glass ceiling is frightening.

The disappearance of female leadership isn’t just a diversity issue; it’s a leadership issue for every organisation attempting to plan for the future. The lack of female leaders now, will affect the lack of female leaders tomorrow – there will be no funnelling of talent, no mentoring, no active sponsoring of younger women – because the senior female leaders simply won’t be there to see these things put in place – and the female leadership pipeline will challenged.

You see the statistics aren’t quite stacking up;

  • The AFR reported last week that the latest Male Champion of Change report shows the representation of women at senior level has declined in a number of organisations with employers going backwards when it comes to promoting women.
  • According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors as at 31 Jan 2016:
    – The latest percentage of women on ASX 200 boards is 21.9% with a total of 24 boards still not having any women
    – The latest percentage of women on ASX All Ordinaries is 16.6% with a total of 169 boards still not having any female representation.
  • And the Workplace Gender Equality Agency March 2016 report is quoting the national gender pay gap as still sitting at 17.3% – for anyone thinking this is an improvement there hasn’t been much change in the last two decades with this number hovering between 15% and 19%.
  • There continue to be so many women in our own backyard and around the world where I am sure a one day discussion and awareness on women’s issues is seen as a token gesture – child brides, human trafficking, women who are victims of genocide, dealing with homelessness and poverty; those who survive rape and violence.
  • This week, even my own daughter at a school interview was telling the Principal about how her brother’s sports coaches had said to one of the boys “stop running like a girl” and she asked “why would he say that?” – out of the mouths of babes!

It is the responsibility from the top to the bottom to consistently take the right action, walking the talk not just talking the talk, building cultures and organisations over time where parity is understood by all, trusted by all, believed by all and acted on by all. It’s where we unconsciously start supporting what is right and at the same time, confidently place the spotlight on what is wrong. It’s a world where women and men are not simply ‘leaning in’ as Sheryl Sandberg so famously heralded – but actually a world where men and women across all levels are leaning out, supporting and sponsoring female talent as equally as male talent, valuing the strengths that each bring to the table.

I am a feminist and proud to be named as one.  I have said this before and I will say it again. For me, #IWD16, this day – this discussion, this challenge to make change actually happen – is about these key things:

  • Being comfortable in my own skin as a woman
  • Expecting, giving and receiving equitable treatment
  • Standing proud and strong in my own unique spotlight
  • Using my voice and speaking with inner belief, authenticity, transparency and conviction
  • Similarly, using my voice to say when things aren’t right
  • Valuing my own worth
  • Being aware and grateful that as a woman in a first world country I have choices
  • Equally, knowing also that as a woman living in a first world country, there are women in other countries who don’t have the choices I do
  • Changing the face of how work can be done by owning the responsibility of walking the talk of change and supporting those women and men who think and feel the way I do, who are actively standing up, using their voices and taking action.

For me, I choose to walk that talk my way – positioning up via a tribe of amazing women that connect as LBDGroup, standing beside my male champions of change in organisations that are working to develop the future pipeline of female and male talent and leaders, sitting on the First Seeds Fund board that is working tirelessly to reduce the impact of poverty and abuse in the backyards of Australia and working with thought leaders around the world who are sharing their uniqueness, making a difference and being valued for what they bring to the world in terms of their values and beliefs not simply based on their gender.

It’s up to all of us to commit to changing the often unconscious, yet endemic behaviours that continue to exist. Because it’s time for all of us, irrespective of age, gender, colour of skin or even school you went to, to take responsibility to create the cultures and teams that everyone wants to be part of now and in to the future.

Commit to #PledgeForParity because it does take all of us, working together, to drive change.

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