In celebration of International Women’s Day iHR Australia has reached out to several different women in Australian workplaces and asked the question, “What do you expect Australian workplaces to provide for women in 2019, in terms of support, opportunity and culture?”. The following comments were collected from a range of perspectives.
Nicolette, Head of Human Resources
I am a professional woman in the corporate world in 2019, what do I expect from the workplace or my employer?
Flexibility in my workplace, working hours, awareness of unconscious bias when making either hiring, development, promotional or other decisions. Parental programs that allow me to have a family and build my career; Fairness in pay vs similar roles both internal in the organisation and the external market…Now that I am starting to list my wishes, how different are my expectations from what our male counterparts expect really?
So perhaps we all need to ensure we allow our employees to work flexibly, address unconscious bias awareness, implement a flexible gender-neutral parental programs, pay market related incomes for the role for ALL employees, regardless of gender and if we achieve this, we Simultaneously address what a female in 2019 requires from her employer.
Simple. We want to be seen as employees, not female employees. Employees getting a fair go like everyone else.
Tess, Brand Manager
The two key areas I think about for women in the workplace is flexibility and visibility. The issue of flexibility in the workplace is often linked directly to women. However, for women to be supported, men also require flexibility. Flexibility should be viewed as a societal issue not a women’s issue.
The second is visibility – as the saying goes “you can’t be what you can’t see”. It’s important to have women in roles of leadership, influence and decision-making to inspire younger women who are starting in their careers. It also sends the message that the company values diversity and manages unconscious bias. It’s also encouraging to see women in roles that historically haven’t been typical such as I.T. and technical roles within the company.
Isabella, Women’s Officer at Monash University
Australian workplaces can support their women by holding accountable those who disrespect them.
I believe a general level of understanding of the prevalent issues has been achieved, but a lack of responsibility prevents real change from occurring.
I know that a lot of women in particular have struggled on a personal level with the fact that the perpetrators of violence toward them aren’t always held responsible for their actions, be they through casual customs such as harassment or via more extreme means like physical violence.
Greater power equals greater influence and workplaces possess that power through the nature of their prevalent hierarchical systems, which are instrumental in implementing action and consequences upon those who refuse to play by the rules. So I think that it’s important that change comes from holding those responsible accountable for how they treat others, an ability that exists also in the community of employees who are able to work together to hold each other to a high standard of conduct. I think that this is a key factor in how we make a change in the ways that we respect others, and how we implement it.
Jessica, Accounting Analyst
Gender diversity is definitely something that has been approached as a rather controversial topic in today’s society, and as such, awareness of this has evidently grown amongst the larger organizations. I have a positive outlook towards 2019, with expectations of this growing further around areas of management and executive roles.
Gender pay equity in the professional services industry does appear to have improved over the years, but I would expect career progress and opportunities for professional development to be more inclusive of not only women, but people from diverse cultural backgrounds. A great start to this would be through awareness and acceptance of diversity not only from recruitment, but throughout the entire firm and all levels of staff. A change like this is not possible without having everyone on board.
Sonia, General Manager
The theme for International Women’s Day 2019 is “BalanceforBetter”. As a professional, it wasn’t until recently that I started to notice the biases that contribute to the “glass ceiling” that women experience. On a personal front, I’ve been frustrated with being told that I have “plenty of time” to progress my career but this is never ever said to males at the same age as me!
For a young ambitious female, there are a lot of barriers for career progression that may include not being provided an opportunity to take on technical jobs/complex work that leads to reduced visibility with Senior Management, restructures that impact support roles that mostly women perform to not having enough women in leadership positions to look up to.
To truly deliver on gender balance, perceptions need to change so that women are given a fair opportunity for any role they desire – we are just as good, if not better!
Davina, Senior Media Investment Executive
In an industry that has traditionally been male dominated, it’s great to see that there is a relatively high percentage of females in a variety of roles in my office, including senior management. I do believe we are moving toward the right direction in that people are acknowledged for their work regardless of gender.
From a culture and benefits perspective, the company has introduced its flexible working initiative to accommodate employees who would like to have some wiggle room on work hours or different arrangements (i.e. due to having commitments outside work) which is a fantastic approach, however, being a high stress, fast paced working environment, it would be good to see some mental health support.
Felicity, Assistant Director
In 2019 I would like to see workplaces offer genuine flexible work arrangements to all staff. When part time arrangements, compressed or alternative hours, working from home etc are ingrained in the office culture, they lose their stigma and create a more effective, productive and happier workforce. The option of working flexibly makes a huge difference for women, particularly when they are balancing work and family (be it children, ageing parents).
However, if these opportunities are not made available to all staff, it creates a risk that the ‘caring burden’ continues to fall primarily on women – hence why I would like to see flexible arrangements part of the culture of all workplaces, for all staff.