The sex wars which erupted in federal parliament last week are only the tip of the iceberg of a deep vein of discontent in society about the difficulties facing both women and men as they juggle work and family.
In an extraordinary 15 minute speech last Tuesday, Australia’s first female Prime Minister gave voice to the silent rage of generations of Australian women.
The rage of grandmothers who wonder, if not for society’s undervaluing of their abilities, if could they have been chief financial officer of a major company instead of running the books of the family business.
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Positive discrimination is, if not dead, at least on life support with an overeager nurse reaching for the off switch.
That’s according to a decent-sized survey out today that found two thirds of Australia’s bosses will not mandate that females be included in shortlists for senior management positions.
I reckon I wouldn’t be alone in turning a blind eye to that nurse, and wanting quotas put out of their misery. There are much better ways to achieve workplace diversity.
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Here’s a theory on why true gender “equality” still, in 2012, eludes so many workplaces across the country. I’ve started to think that the reason for the achingly slow pace of change is because we are a nation of doubters.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a CEO or senior manager who doesn’t (publicly, anyway) agree with the premise that attracting and keeping more women can only boost their talent pool, that helping staff better mesh their work and home life would help morale and loyalty, and that putting more women in senior levels and on their boards can improve their company’s performance.
But that doesn’t mean their companies are necessarily following suit.
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We live in a world where economics is valued. People in business get paid more than in most other professions. Yet business fails to recognise the talents of women. Repeatedly. Only 2 per cent of the ASX200 CEOs are female.
I’m old. I’m a baby boomer and was an expert in Affirmative Action in its early days. Affirmative Action is of course an oxymoron. Here in Australia we had no such thing as mandated affirmative targets for women in business or any kind of mandated action much at all.
Recent research by The Reibey institute in Australia showed that ASX500 companies with more women directors make more money for shareholders. Return on Equity was 9.2 per cent versus an average 4.5 per cent. Those with no women on boards made a measly return of 0.5 per cent.
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