Off the back of the fantastic and inspiring Business Chicks Facebook event one rainy night in Melbourne last week, we wanted to share with you 3 things that matter to us at girledworld right now.
1. The powerful, purposeful, important words of Kristen Hilton, Victoria's Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, whose speech blew us away at the Business Chicks Facebook event, and which speaks to women everywhere about the importance of stepping up to lead from the front. See Hilton's full speech below. Let us know what you think.
2. We took a BIG moment yesterday to celebrate the appointment of Susan Kiefel as Australia's first female High Court Chief Justice in 115 years. This is BIG news. A BIG first for diversity. And worth being excited about. We were :)
3. We leaned in to listen as Mia Garlick, Facebook's Director of Policy Australia New Zealand, spoke candidly last week about the state of affairs at Facebook stating that they too had a long way to go before they had truly representative diversity internally, and that women generally lacked the confidence to get the skills they needed to step into tech and leadership.
Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg's 'Be The Nerd' and Hackergirl initiatives are attempting to address this lack of diversity and drive more women and girls into STEM.
girledworld supports both of these initiatives as we, too, work towards diversity first, for the business betterment of all.
Hope your hump day has been fruitful. MG x
PS: Pour a cuppa or glass of grapes and find the time and space to read Kristen's speech below.
We think it's truly inspiring. (And we also think we need many more Kristen's in the room, and in the world.)
Speech at Facebook Business Chicks event
Wednesday November 21, 2016
“It’s great to be in a room full of women.
I want to acknowledge the role that Facebook and other social media platforms have played over the last decade in creating really inclusive online communities and support groups where knowledge and experience can be shared. Where people, particularly those who experience isolation or some form of exclusion in our communities, can come together. They may experience exclusion or isolation because of a disability, because of their sexual orientation, or because of their gender, and through Facebook they’ve been able to connect with each other in radical and meaningful ways.
I’ve been involved in social justice and human rights for about the last 20 years, and during that time I’ve seen online communities start revolutions, in the political world, in the social world and in the business world, and I think that has changed the way in which we understand our world.
As radical as it might sound, the Commission, and myself as Commissioner (which actually is a pretty bureaucratic sounding title) part of our role is about changing the world as well. And part of our mandate as contained in our acts, is about working towards a more equal and inclusive community. And that includes empowering women, and empowering our daughters to reach their full potential.
I’m conscious that I’m speaking to a roomful of women today whose lived experience of the workplace may involve working in a male-dominated environment, possibly trying to juggle parenting and other caring responsibilities, and trying to seek workplace flexibility without much success.
I’ve had my own experience of that and certainly at the Commission where we receive complaints of discrimination every day, some of the most common complaints we receive are from women in the workplace who still experience significant levels of sexual discrimination and harassment.
Despite the lack of progress that women have made in the workplace over the last couple of decades we still see structural and attitudinal bias. The chances of becoming a CEO in the business world are stacked against you. 5 out of 6 CEOs are men. And the other indicators of gender equality are pretty awful as well. In the ASX200 there are more CEOs named Peter than there are women. Sexual harassment continues to affect women at a much higher rate than men. One third of women (that’s 33%) have been sexually harassed by the time they’re 15. The gender pay gap is stacked between 15 and 18% with women on average earning $23,000 less than men and if you’re a woman, you’re far more likely to retire without the same level of superannuation. So that’s the community and that’s the society within which we find ourselves today.
The good news is and I think you’re the face of that good news, is that that is starting to change. The pipeline of women in management and leadership roles is increasing. We are talking more than ever about gender equality and what that means.
Collectively and individually we are confronting and contesting and considering our own biases, our own preferences, and until that happens, and until we look deeply at our own cultural and our own gender biases, women will not only still face obstacles in the workplace, be constructively dismissed and made redundant when they’re pregnant or when they’re seeking to return to work on a part-time basis, until then young girls in schools will still have their images spread across social media by boys in those schools without their consent, and until then we will not be able to reduce the appalling rates of violence against women which have been the subject of a Royal Commission in this state in the last couple of months.
It strikes me that an arrogant solution in terms of the business world to overcome some of these obstacles is to set up your own small business, to lead from the front, to be creative, and to use the technology that is available to you to promote flexible work practices that better serve women, and that better serve men.
Because let me be frank.
If there is a stigma attached to women working flexibly, that stigma is equally true for men. (I’ve got 3 small children) and I remember when after my partner asked to work one day a week flexibly from home he was told that 'he wasn’t taking his work seriously'. So until we make those sorts of issues social issues and not just women issues, then we’re not going to get there.
I grew up in country Victoria and my parents were small business people. They owned a fashion shop. And I very much understand the sacrifices that come in terms of setting up your own small business.
I was one of five girls, and we used to have to spend our weekends clearing coat-hangers out of change-rooms and comparing fashion parades, and marketing Cherry Lane tshirts before market day! So (talking to you) as small business owners I also understand first-hand that there is a creativity, a leadership, an entrepreneurship that’s probably in your DNA.
I wish you well, and I commend Facebook and Business Chicks for this initiative to support women in small business. Because you also have a role in supporting each other.
Your other leadership role I think comes from the way in which you deal with your staff and any employees that you may have. As you probably know you have obligations under Equal Opportunity laws to make sure you have workplaces that are free from discrimination, and that are safe and inclusive.
And I say that not just because it's a legal obligation but because I think it's a social and moral obligation as well. And all of the research shows that it makes your business much more profitable, and much more productive.
The more diverse and inclusive your environments are, whether they're online, or in the workplace, the more productive and creative and innovative and shapeshifting your business will be.
You are representative of how things are changing.
You have chosen to be leaders in your field. Or to aspire to be leaders in your field.
And to challenge the outdated notion that all men are decision makers, or that all decision makers are men.
I hope you draw inspiration from each other and from the people that you hear from tonight, and I wish you all the very best in challenging the status quo.