Fay Phillips-Jones International Women's Day
We proud to be supporting International Women's Day 2020. International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Whilst we all know that gender parity within the workplace has improved over the past decades, we all also know that there is still a long way to go.
The theme for IWD2020 is #EachforEqual. Have you experienced gender stereotypes/gender bias in a professional context? If so, how have you been able to challenge this?
Throughout my career, gender bias on a day-to-day basis is not something that has been front of mind in terms of feeling disadvantaged. What I have come to understand as my career has progressed is that much of the gender bias experience instead has come from societal influence. My daughter is now 7 and since she was 18 months old, my husband has been the primary career of our children. It’s still not an infrequent experience to have people comment about how hard it must be for me and for my children that I travel and have to be away from the home or how ‘lucky’ I am to have a husband that is ‘willing’ to stay at home for me. When I ask my male colleagues if they have ever been asked these questions or had similar comments about their primary carer partners, after all these years I am yet to find a single male colleague who has experienced the same. These questions in themselves appear harmless but they convey a strong undertone of our non-conformance to the societal norm, bringing with it a barrel load of judgement that at times can leave us questioning our decisions.
How do you think parental leave should be approached in 2020?
Studies show that women in their 50’s and 60’s are more likely to face homelessness or financial difficulties than males. This is the longer term impact of women traditionally taking on the role of carer when it comes to looking after children or aging parents, resulting in more time out of the work place, less time earning superannuation / pension and less time to progress their careers which could increase earning potential. When we look at parental leave, we default to the short term wins like increasing the initial paid time off shortly after the birth of a child. With 2 children under the age of 9, I understand how beneficial this can be. What I would like to see in 2020 is a combined focus on short term relief and longer term gains through investments in paid periods off work immediately after birth, and superannuation/pensions paid for the whole time someone is away, whether it’s paid or unpaid. I would also like to see opportunities and societal support for more men to take on primary caring responsibilities.
Do you feel social media has influenced a positive shift change for female leadership?
Social media is a double edged sword. On one side, it reinforces many gender stereotypes. We don’t have to look too deeply into Facebook or Instagram to experience this. On the other hand, it has helped empower campaigns such as #MeToo and enabled global profiling of organisations like the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to create a more balanced view. With social media, it comes down to making good, diverse choices on the platforms we engage with to see or feel the positive changes.
What have you or your business implemented to achieve positive changes for an equal workforce?
Across our global business, we have Advance network committees who focus on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion initiatives. In our latest Employee Engagement score we were recognised by our staff as being in the top quartile of businesses that create a diverse and inclusive place of work. This recognition by our people is the best recognition that we are making a difference.
Please note that all commentary and opinions provided are those of the individual, and not the organisation/company they are employed by.