I’m lucky enough to be attending the Women, Management and Work Conference in Sydney today. There is a great turnout, with many familiar names and faces from around Australia.
So far there has been an impressive line-up of speakers. Yet these impressive speakers each talked about the issues around gender pay equity (which does not exist here in Australia yet). They also touched on the changing nature of work and patterns of work – since many of us no longer work in the same field from beginning to end of our careers.
Paid parental leave was also touched upon – Heather Ridout noted how important she sees this issue for business. I agree, this is one area that is critical to driving productivity growth for Australia.
Mark Lennon also made a plea for people to realise that trade unions are still relevant. Not sure he made his case strongly enough to maintain relevance?
I look at the landscape for women in the workplace (especially in management) and remain disheartened that we have made so little progress during my working career. We seem to be having many of the same conversations about equal pay, equal opportunity in the workplace, discrimination, sexual harassment and parental leave as happened twenty years ago.
The strident complaints (or the hidden seething resentment) of men when women are appointed to positions ahead of them remain. Access to board roles remains distressingly low, although the Australian Institute of Company Directors is working hard on this at the moment. You can check out Tony Abbott having a bit of a gripe about gender here.
Yet I look at the landscape in Australia and am encouraged to see women in power at various levels. It is especially encouraging to see women as: Governor General, Prime Minister, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, State Governors, State Premiers, Mayors, local Councillors and other business leaders. But this is a very rare alignment of the constellations, rare enough that it is commented upon.
We have not yet reached a stage where having a woman in a position of power and authority is so completely normal that it is not even worth commenting upon.