Light a Spark – Five Things we can all do to Improve Gender Equity

International Women’s Day – is a day of celebration and a day to remind us to keep pushing for equality. It’s a day, and a cause, that is very close to my heart.

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.

So, I’d like to take a moment to do just that. I have been so fortunate to be surrounded by so many strong, amazingly powerful women in my life:

  • I was raised by my mother and my grandmother – both instilled a belief in me that I could do anything if I put my mind to it and worked hard. Materially we didn’t have much, but I was rich in love, support and in powerful role models.
  • In the business world, I have had so many female mentors who have taken the time to support, coach and challenge me all through my career. I still feel the strength of their courage and genuine care almost everyday.
  • As a leader, I’ve had so many wonderful female team members, peers and colleagues teach me about being a better person, leader and coach. I feel so grateful to each of them.

International Women’s Day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender equality. Did you know, in Australia:

  • 19% of women have experienced violence by an intimate partner in the last 12 months;
  • One woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner;
  • 46,000 women are homeless each night;
  • One in three women has experienced physical violence, and one in five has experienced sexual violence;
  • Australian women will retire with, on average, half the amount of super as men, and one in three women retire with no super at all; and
  • An average gender pay gap exists of 15.3% and up to 26.1% if you’re in the Financial Services Industry.

Behind everyone one of those figures is a mother, sister, daughter or granddaughter.

So, what will you do to make a difference?

While no one person has caused these issues, it is up to each of us to step up and solve them. Research from the United Nations shows that achieving gender equality helps to increase financial freedom, improves overall GDP and reduces rates of violence against women.
Despite the evidence, actions for women’s inclusion, leadership and protection remain inadequate.
In terms of practical, immediate actions, here are 5 things you can do to improve gender equity:

  1. Hire more women. It really is that simple. If you can’t find them, you’re not looking hard enough, being flexible enough or creating an attractive environment.
  2. Grow more women. Mentor, train, develop and give more opportunities to women so that they can grow and learn. I’m not saying do this at the cost of a man, but I am saying do it equally.
  3. Retain more women. Do whatever you need to so that your environment is a happy and healthy one for the women (and men!) in it. Increase flexibility and opportunities for all.
  4. Pivot to revenue. Consciously help more women move in to front line/sale/revenue generating roles. Women find their way in to leadership roles in Marketing, HR and other Corporate roles, but there are few and far between in customer facing/revenue roles. Consciously help women find their way in to these roles and support them once they are there.
  5. Start Counting. Look around your table, your office, your meetings. How many women are there and how many of them have a voice? Notice and take action. Help women step in to spotlight. Don’t attend conferences, training programs, events unless the panel is 50/50.

It is up to each of us to take action for unjust actions when you see them, don’t wait for somebody else to take action – stand up for equality.