The Canberra Times reported today that the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Liz Broderick, has become serious. She’s convinced a group of male chief executives to commit to driving change for women in the workplace. Their focus will be to close the wage gap, imbed greater flexibility and increase the representation of women in senior management and board positions.
Their mission seems to be on implementing changes within their own organisations and influencing their male peers to do likewise.
The companies involved are: Woolworths, Telstra, Origin Energy, IBM, Deloitte, Citi Group, Goldman Sachs and Westpac.
Her next challenge will be to maintain momentum and ensure accountability. This will be the opportunity for women in the organisation (who after all, have a vested interest in the outcome) to provide input and require tangible results. My hope is that women take advantage of this opportunity.
Too often women distance themselves from initiatives that provide them with them with unwanted attention. Women don’t want ‘favours’. They don’t want anything that reeks of paternalism or somehow implies that they’re not good enough to make things happen by themselves.
We need to move beyond this! The barriers for women are real and cumulative. If they weren’t, there’d be more of us in positions of power. As more men pay attention to these impediments and take responsibility for removing them, the more likely it is that things will change.
Too many competent women fail to be promoted into the positions they deserve because they don’t have the networks, the visibility, the opportunities their male colleagues have. If men begin to pay more attention and women become visible, they’re more likely to be offered jobs. It makes no sense to decline them.