Tomorrow, 8th March is International Women’s Day. This month we have permission to speak up for and about women: Their progress, challenges, contribution and value.
CEOs hastily prepare supportive and encouraging speeches.
Women role models are gathered to share their stories with other women.
Speakers and presenters are engaged to lead panels and seminars to inspire, motivate and harness the momentum that’s created this month.
So let’s not waste it!
What are the key messages that need to be shared?
How might we capitalise on the permission we have this month to talk honestly, frankly and usefully about what women need to succeed?
Last week, the Secretary of Treasury, Martin Parkinson led the way. He spoke honestly about the challenges women in his Department face, why it was so important that they were addressed and how he was going to hold himself and the Department to account.
As policy makers entrusted to maintain Australia’s strong and competitive economy, the Department of Treasury is accountable to the Australian population. He told the audience that meeting the volatile social, economic, environmental and political challenges we face requires the full participation of everyone at all levels.
Dr Parkinson shared the findings of the review I was engaged to lead, and said that ‘while some aspects of our culture were the source of our strength, other aspects of the same culture were presenting barriers to women’s progress.’ These included:
- ‘Institutionalised biases toward a homogenous leadership style
- Biases toward conceptual and analytical skills over coordination and people skills,
- Unconscious assumptions about the capacity and credibility of people with commitments outside of work and some issues with the way the Performance Management System was implemented.’
He said that while these ‘issues are not gender-specific, they do tend to affect women disproportionately.’
It is truly refreshing to hear a leader be so open and frank about the cultural barriers faced by women within his organisation, commit to action and be willing to be held accountable.
If you think your CEO could do more than talk, encourage him to take the next steps:
- Undertake a review of the organisation to determine what the cultural issues really are within the context of that organisation;
- Commit to action and be willing to be held accountable for results.
If he needs more encouragement, give him Dr Parkinson’s speech. Download it now.