As Australians, we like to see ourselves as world leaders in most things, punching above our weight in business, sport, culture and our enviable quality of life. But equality of the sexes is one area where we are not yet covering ourselves in glory.
Ranked 35th out of 144 countries in terms of gender parity by the World Economic Forum, Australia’s report card ought to have “could do better” and “resting on its laurels” scrawled all over it.
How do we change this report card so next year it reads: “Pressed for progress with purpose and achieved it”?
Reflecting on my first year as Chair of EY Oceania’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, the most rewarding moments are when colleagues express pride in our firm and the work EY is doing in this space. These moments are most evident when we are explicitly demonstrating our purpose of building a better working world, and in particular a more inclusive working world. A great example of this was when we featured on Episode 2 of ABC’s recent 3-part documentary, Employable Me.
We recognise that the workplace is an engine room for social change. EY has a workforce of 7000 people in Oceania, and 250,000 globally. What we do here – the policies and practices we subscribe to in relation to bucking entrenched bias, domestic violence, sexual harassment – make a difference. It changes lives and has an impact in altering broader social expectation and norms.
As employers seek to embrace wholeheartedly their responsibility to drive gender equality, I’m often asked for my advice based on our wins in this space – here are some thoughts:
1. Address the gender pay gap. Don’t wait until a government forces you to act or rely on your gut feel. Do an audit, report publicly on your findings and your progress on closing any gaps. At EY, we have brought down our pay gap to 0.4 per cent over five years.
2. Promote boldly. Be deliberate about elevating women to the highest leadership positions. There are no shortages of talented women who will be the role models for your future leaders and acceleration programs can help them get there faster. At EY, we’ve recently announced changes to our EY Oceania Leadership team, which now has a 50/50 gender split. We also have an Accelerate program – a two year sponsorship program for women building their business case for partnership. This not only holds our leaders accountable for developing and advancing women it also expands access to role models, mentors and sponsors.
3. Flexibility for all. Unless men take up flexible work, it will always lead to discrimination against the women who access it. At EY, we have been able to increase men’s use of parental leave from 6 per cent to 16 per cent of total leave takers. We find that ability to access flexibility provides an 11 per cent engagement boost and have dedicated a whole month “Flextober” to encourage employees to find new ways of working.
4. Harness the future of work. Commit to helping diverse talent thrive now and in the future. For us at EY this has included initiatives to support candidates who have taken breaks in their careers: EY Reconnect is our flagship programme for female career returners, providing a bridge for professionals re-entering the workplace; and GigNow, an online portal where contractors (or those working in the “gig economy”) can find out about and apply to contract opportunities “Gigs with EY”.
EY is proud to be Principal Partner for the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Cornerstone Conference (Melbourne May 2-4), which brings together more than 500 women leaders from 30 nations to have conversations that matter, tackle global issues together and harness the power of purpose. Taking our cue from the theme of the Conference, change will not happen by evolution, it requires a revolution.
As a member of the IWF, my revolution is to #PressForProgress with purpose to build a more diverse, equal and inclusive world – a better working world.
What is your revolution to press for progress?
Women. Fast forward is a network of over 26k followers on LinkedIn. Join us today.
and is republished here with kind permission. You can read the original article here.