Women, Men and Organisations

“Why are there so few women in senior leadership and management positions and what can we do about it?”

I was recently asked this question by a CEO of a major Australian Company and the Deputy Secretary of a Victorian Government Department. My response was in three parts and drew on Sheryl Sandberg's recent book “Lean In”, Catherine Fox's 7 Myths of Women and Work 2012, my own workshops on 'Women Leading Change' and about 40 years of experience.

Part 1. The women should:

  1. Keep Score – About your and your teams achievements. It helps to remind you and others of your capacity and achievements.

  2. Have confidence – have a go at that job or task don't wait until you have all 10 Key Selection Criteria.

  3. Develop a team of supporters, advocates and friends

  4. Reflect on their own behaviour

  5. Have plan to achieve their goals – 6mths and 18mths

  6. Support other women

Part 2. The men should:

  1. CEO, Board Members and Chairs should champion women give them advice and opportunities and create 'real' fair workplaces
  2. Dads, brothers and male friends should encourage women, give them and others opportunities, speak up when women are not treated fairly.

  3. Husbands/ partners – assist (without being asked), encourage, cheer and make it easier for women to achieve and balance their lives.

  4. Be a real partner, most women CEO' of major companies have a supportive partner – rejoice in the fact she earns more than you.

  5. Violence against women is not acceptable under any circumstances. A VicHealth study suggested that Family Violence did the most harm to women's health than any other harm

Part 3. What to do about the organisation's systems:

  1. Make sure they are fair, test whether merit advancement is available to all who are qualified.

  2. Pay men and women the same wage when they do the same or similar work (a recent example of Law Graduates with on average women earning 15% less)

  3. Support women on maternity leave to stay connected, encourage them to return, provide flexible workplaces for all.

  4. Identify and get rid of the barriers that stop qualified and great employees achieving the best for your organisation.

  5. Value the talent you have, recognise the $ value of diversity in the workplace.

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