S.Bruce Dowton, Kristina Keneally, Sakkie Pretorius

Be Bold For Change

Today, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, Macquarie University launched its Workplace Gender Equity Strategy. Professor Sakkie Pretorius, Co-Chair of the Gender Equity Strategy Committee, launched the Strategy and Vice-Chancellor Professor S. Bruce Downton and guest Kristina Keneally, 42nd Premier of NSW and Director of Gender Inclusion at MGSM, addressed a gathering at one of many launch events across campus today.

Ms Keneally encouraged Macquarie’s staff to ‘be bold’ in carefully examining how each one of us can personally, and in our teams, make the necessary changes to bring about equality. As the first female premier of NSW, she acknowledged that power is not simply given to women, women need to be bold enough to claim it for themselves and organisational leaders need to boldly adopt gender equity measures to authentically build a merit-based community.

The six key commitments in the strategy are:

  • Building an equitable and inclusive organisational culture
  • Holding leaders accountable
  • Improving representation of women in senior academic roles
  • Achieving more gender balance in leadership
  • Making flexibility the norm
  • Closing the pay gap

In a number of recent This Week articles, women and men have outlined reasons why it is so important for Macquarie staff members to extend the conversation and make a commitment to our Workplace Gender Equity Strategy. In order for our workplace to remain sustainable, safe and competitive we need to understand today’s challenges in gender inequality and champion initiatives such as creating more flexibility around child care, increasing representation in leadership and in certain discipline areas and by creating safe environments, free from gender or sexuality based prejudice, discrimination and provocation.

The question arises for each of us – what can we do to improve this workplace for ourselves and for our colleagues?

Some actions announced in the strategy that our community can examine and implement include:

  • Deliver clear communications and expectations around the values and behaviour of inclusion and equality in our teams
  • Set targets for key gender equity indicators and build accountability for results in progress reports
  • Develop inclusive employee value propositions for promotion of career opportunities
  • Broaden search processes to attract senior women in under-represented disciplines
  • Actively work to promote gender diversity in our internal and external communications and marketing
  • Implement strategies to address unconscious bias in recruitment and workplace attitudes
  • Investigate points in the talent pipeline where we are losing women
  • Sponsor and implement women’s development and mentoring programs
  • Establish flexible work strategies and child care support for everyone to support high performance
  • Conduct an annual gender pay equity review to report internally and externally
  • Implement structured and transparent systems for discretionary payments

As Nicole Gower, Co-Chair of the Gender Equity Strategy Committee, astutely said in her This Week article, “It’s not about quotas or women with kids. It’s about creating the right environment for everyone to succeed, regardless of their gender or background. That’s what this Gender Equity Strategy is all about.”

2 thoughts on “Be Bold For Change”

  1. “Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030” is the international UN Women’s theme. (See http://www.unwomen.org/en/news/in-focus/international-womens-day“)

    Empower a Woman, Empower a Nation” is the Australian UN Women’s theme.

    “Be Bold for Change” is the theme used by a website run by corporate interests and is not an “official” IWD theme. That’s not to say we shouldn’t “be bold for change” – as Kristina Keneally said, no-one gives up power voluntarily. (Unless it’s time to step down from the NTEU Branch Presidency, of course, because you actually believe in sharing power with others.)

    From the NTEU website: “…we should remember that IWD has its roots in the Union movement, when in 1908 the New York garment workers strike was led by young immigrant women. The strike date of 8 March was selected to commemorate IWD by the internationalist women rights campaigners meeting in Copenhagen in 1910, who decided that there should be an international day for action on women’s rights and universal suffrage.

    IWD from early days focused upon peace, and organised against war mongering and compulsory military service. Once IWD was brought into the mainstream by the United Nations International Women’s Year in 1975, these trade union origins were downplayed. However, women in Australia and elsewhere have always used IWD to promote women’s labour rights.”

    And we will continue to do so.

    I guess I should have been bold and grabbed the mic to sing Bread and Roses at the top of my voice, as I’ll be doing tonight with the Solidarity Choir.

  2. “Establish flexible work strategies and child care support for everyone to support high performance”

    Having enough parking spaces would certainly help with this one.

    Too bold?

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