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Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit 2012 Highlights

Delegates at the Summit participated in an engaging and dynamic panel and Q&A facilitated by Michael Rose, Chief Executive Partner at Allens. Mr Rose probed panellists on their views as to the future direction of gender equity in the workplace, challenging them to articulate the changes needed in order for Australia to see greater gender equality. Here are a few of the highlights from the panel:

  1. Denise Goldsworthy, Managing Director of Dampier Salt Limited spoke of the detrimental impact of gender bias and the need to challenge current processes around recruitment. She advocated the need for objective processes and robust governance systems in recruitment and job design. Businesses, she said, should learn from the debate about workplace safety, where accountability has shifted from individual safety managers to every member of an organisation. Ensuring gender equality needs both leadership and across the board accountability.
  2. Mark Scott, Managing Director of the Australian Broadcasting Company emphasised the potential of technology to enable flexible work practices. He agreed with Ms Goldsworthy in calling for a redesign of the way we measure performance, shifting the focus from hours worked to tasks achieved. He argued for significant investment in equipping and training managers to cope with the challenges of a flexible workforce so that the organisation and its employees are best placed to benefit from a diverse and flexible workforce.
  3. Tim Orton, Managing Direct of Nous Group emphasised the need for attitudinal changes in families and society that would enable men and women to make more equal choices. He spoke of the challenges of managing a non-traditional workforce and the reality of the economic returns on constancy and intensity of work. He called for greater diversity and availability of childcare and for businesses to better embrace returning and ageing employees.
  4. Julie McKay, Executive Director of UN Women Australia echoed the challenges of implementing better gender policies but emphasised the role businesses can and must play in driving attitudinal and behavioural change. She emphasised the need for businesses to take a greater level of accountability for gender equality more broadly, rather than just gender equality in the workforce. She called for a significant productivity piece of work that would clearly measure the business case for gender diversity and spoke of the opportunity for learning from sectors such as the environmental debate, where employees and customers were able to drive attitudinal, behavioural and policy change within businesses by building awareness and making community choices.

The following workshops were held:

Leadership - Maintaining the energy: empowering women to lead
Facilitated by Jane Counsel Head of Diversity and Flexibility, Group People Capability, Westpac Group.
Thought leadership by Carmel McGregor, Deputy Secretary Defence People group, Department of Defence.
Flexibility - Implementing a roadmap for flexibility
Facilitated by Nareen Young, CEO Diversity Council of Australia.
Thought leadership by Robyn Clough, Manager Public Policy and Thought Leadership, AIM NSW&ACT.
Supply Chain - Considering gender equality in supply chain practices
Facilitated by Neil Cockroft, Head of Diversity and Culture, King & Wood Mallesons.
Thought leadership by Jennifer Levasseur, Head of Communications & Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate Express.
Mentoring - Turning mentoring meetings into leadership opportunities
Facilitated by Sonja Price, Board Diversity Advisor Policy and Advocacy, Australian Institute of Company Directors.
Thought leadership by Peter Wilson, Chairman, Australian Human Resources Institute.
Resilience - Women's Fit, Functioning and Growth at Work: Indicators and Predictors.
Facilitated by Rebecca Bose, Program Facilitator, Gender Equality Project, Melbourne Business School.
Thought leadership by Jennifer Whelan, Research Associate, Gender Equality Project, Melbourne Business School.

Outcomes Report

In October 2012 UN Women Australia and principal partner The Westpac Group will launch the outcomes document from the Summit, entitled: Re-imagining our Workplaces. This document will build on the report produced after of the 2011 Summit, Equality means business and will detail the recommendations put forward by the workshop groups.

Further details about the document and its launch will be released closer to the date.

Women in the Pipeline

The Gender Equity in the Workplace Summit was followed in the evening by the second UN Women Australia Twilight Networking Event, Women in the Pipeline: Making it Happen. Helen Conway, Director of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency addressed the audience on the enduring dearth of women in leadership positions and the need to use targets and reporting to build the pipeline and the number of women in leadership positions.

Summit Call to Action

Julie McKay, Executive Director of UN Women Australia concluded the evening with a call to action:

  1. Support the work of UN Women by becoming a member. Join today at:
  2. Continue the conversation about gender equality by following UN Women Australia on Twitter @UNWomenAust and @JulieEMcKay
  3. Support UN Women Australia's partnerships by purchasing a ticket to the UN Women Australia's Rugby Lunch at:
  4. Take on one of the recommendations that emerged during the Summit and champion its implementation in your organisation