Respondents were asked to rank, in order of importance, what would contribute most to improving women's equality in the workforce. The results are listed on the right.
1. Corporate culture change
2. Flexible work practices
4. Access and affordable childcare
5. Non-mandatory targets for women in leadership roles
6. More transparent hiring practices
7. Mandatory quotas for women in leadership roles
8. Return to work incentives after giving birth
9. Time (generational change)
10. More generous paid parental leave for dads and partners (currently two weeks)
11. Greater uptake of unpaid parental leave by men
The following recurring themes emerged when respondents were asked to provide 'other' options that would contribute to improving equality:
What would contribute most to improving women's equality in the workforce?
As part of the survey, participants also supplied their personal experiences of gender issues in the workplace.
The following are all 72 individual responses to: What are the other actions that contribute most to improving women's equality in the workforce?
Earlier support for gaining qualifications and experience on return to work or in new roles.
Those in power need to value people for their individual skills and abilities rather than for their gender.
Women will be advantaged when men share childcare equally and prioritise it as highly as women and shape their working hours and their expectations of their staff accordingly.
Commitment by senior leaders.
Women bitching - I think women being critical rather than supportive of women's choices is something that could improve equality of women in the workplace.
Women in leadership roles will soon translate to a recognition that they can be effective leaders. But the "other" that I think is often overlooked is to ensure that females are represented on any selection or nomination committee - to try and help against unconscious bias. Too many Board Nomination Committees for example automatically comprise the most senior directors, usually men, and then despite the best will in the world a male perspective is brought to the deliberations. The same issue would arise if an executive selection committee is dominated by men.
Hire based on expertise and experience and not nepotism.
Consideration of part-time workers for promotions where they satisfy the experience/qualification requirements of the role.
Women generally need to work part-time to make the family work. Whilst some men want to be the carer, the reality is that often, women want that role. I have enjoyed every minute of the precious time I have had looking after my kids on my day off and would not give that away for any job. Work is just work at the end of the day. But I would be prepared, and able, to do a senior job on a part-time basis.
Mandatory quotas are the main thing that will improve the situation. If women have to be put into leadership roles then it stands to reason that fewer men will be in them - perhaps that would help lead to cultural change where the men go home to complete the caring/cooking/cleaning that has to be shared across the family. Non-mandatory targets are useless - they are just ignored.
Leave to support aged care - I elevate this item as it seems to go unrecognised in most conversations. Childcare issues typically impact the early career years and has a high degree of visibility/debate; caring for aged parents/relatives/spouses impacts on the later career/consolidation period and will be a developing issue as the population ages.
This survey is skewed to forced choice issues around childcare and flexible work practices and benefits for childcare providers that you clearly want to recommend we need more of - and there is tonnes of research out there that already says and supports this. A mindset change for both men and women about equality and how that plays out at work and at home needs to happen. Policies can support all sorts of things but as long as the gender roles at work and home stay the same, you are just treating the symptoms.
I'm not usually an advocate of mandatory quotas, but I do see merit in quotas at board/executive level - with a view that these would likely evolve to be phased out over time (even across a generation) as it becomes the norm. Flexible work arrangements should apply across men/women but this also involves societal change for men to look to take these options as well.
Leadership at CEO/Executive level for corporate cultural change - demonstrated commitment to equity.
Government action on distribution of unpaid labour in households e.g. use it or lose it policies to encourage men to take on caring and household responsibilities.
Related to my point above women themselves need to learn to promote themselves and more senior managers need to look further at who can do the job best rather than on those individuals (often men) who are more forthright in coming forward. Soft skills also need to be valued as often (obviously not always) women have better relationship skills, emotional intelligence etc. Recruitment and promotion shouldn't just be about technical skills.
I stopped after three - seems geared towards being a mother.
Having appropriate policy and procedures in place and targeting recruitment practices.
Educational reform. The leading educational institutions in Sydney and Melbourne are single-sex schools. This contributes to the stereotypes and corporate cultures. After four years working in New York returning to Australia was a culture shock of sexism and stereotypical behaviour.
Greater uptake of PAID (or ANY) parental leave by men.
Women themselves putting themselves forward more confidently....pretty much all the successful women have great self-confidence.
Guaranteed equal pay.
Women having more confidence in themselves and putting themselves forward for roles and not giving up.
When returning to work being provided with good support and mentoring to enable a return to the profession to be smooth and allow time for confidence to be gained again.
Progression and promotion opportunities for women who work part-time after having children.
Also need to actively promote/encourage applications from women, then all appointments/promotions made on merit.
Recognition that flexibility does not equate to dumbing down of the position.
"Reprogramming" culture (of men and women) to rework our society's institutions and rules of engagement so that women are comfortable to step up to leadership and progression, rather than compromising themselves through e.g. giving up, being compelled to behave like "mini men" or other negative behaviours.
Again, survey is flawed... I only wanted #1 = Corporate culture change, #2 = Flexible work practices/flexible work hours, #3 Time (generational change) and #4 Other - NOTHING else... Mentoring is not useful to anyone unless there is a bond between the mentor and mentee, etc.
Changes to recruitment practices.
Learning to like and support other women and not sabotage each other.
Visible role models in senior roles and powerful mentors.
Equal earning opportunities for women would make it easier for men to take unpaid parental leave while the family maintained a decent income.
Greater emphasis placed on the differences between female and male leaders and the value add this has for business. This in turn should lead to improved professional respect.
Material number of men taking up flexible work practices to support family responsibilities.
As noted already regarding recruitment processes. I also think equity statistics should be monitored and reported in annual reports and transparently through the organisation e.g. number of women in leadership roles, pay audit results, promotion results, number of part-timers by gender (to try and increase the number of men doing part-time work).
Building support relationships for those working flexible hours - having an upwards delegate to cover times when not available. This person must be happy and willing to be your support partner.
Unconscious bias of someone with another race/culture.
As an early 40s woman with no children there are still significant barriers to advancement. Flexibility gets lots of airplay but in my view the boys' club attitudes make senior management feel like a closed shop to many women, even those able to consistently work the long hours. Eventually you feel like giving up. I am by no means bitter and twisted on this but eventually you resign yourself to the fact this is, in the most part, in many workplaces, the reality.
There needs to be something significant in it - for the necessary changes to take place. The changes need to be cultural and also in the systems and processes that are in place. Men and women need to want to change, to make the necessary changes and to support the changes. It needs to be re-framed as an 'everybody' issue rather than a WOmen in Leadership issue.
More transparent and fairer allocation of work and opportunities.
Women should also want to take more senior roles. This means they need to become more mobile for international assignments. They need to make more time for working longer hours (I believe that any senior executives work more hours than middle managers; it does not really matter if it is a man or woman.) I am a woman in Executive position and I never had flexible work practices. I don't think this is really a key driver. Childcare is a key barrier if this is not in place and affordable.
Ensuring women returning from maternity leave are not forced to 'start again'.
Raising expectations of what women are capable of by women and men leaders.
Processes designed to protect against bias (i.e. in hiring, performance reviews, promotion and pay reviews etc.)
I found that having a sponsor of significant influence within my organisation helped improve equality for me. This sponsor happened to be a woman who could relate to the difficulties I was facing as a working mother of three who has had a disjointed period of work. This sponsor recognised my potential and went in to fight against the conscious or unconscious bias that existed and this has transformed my career.
Recognition by women that they do not have to be able to do the job 100 per cent before they embark on a new project.
Social culture shift away from women having to prove better than male counterparts.
Understanding that women manage differently from men/maybe other women they know. Better succession planning and talent management.
Time - that is, trying to find a good work/life balance is difficult. If I could spend longer at work I probably could move 'up the chain' quicker but my kids' well-being is more important. I think a lot of men see that their kids' day-to-day well-being is predominantly the role of the mum.
Management training on leadership, managing a team, getting the best out of a team and the value of having mixed sex teams.
The absence of an identified commercial imperative at board or executive committee level in enterprises to invest in women as future leaders is a major barrier to overcoming workplace biases, practices and culture. Organisations that identify a commercial imperative invest for their own benefit, and learn over time to repeat unexpected additional benefit. The cycle becomes embedded and sustainable. Arbitrary externally imposed drivers don't change culture or internal ownership unless entity survival is at risk.
Specific organisational targets which are tied to individual performance management and remuneration models. Also more than mentoring - but specific sponsorship and programs for harnessing talent.
One of the key weaknesses I still observe in women is the inability to negotiate for what they want, including salaries and benefits. Men do this easily.
As with my previous answer, all of these issues are a factor which I think have equal weight in their own ways.
Unconscious bias towards gender, race and appearance.
CEOs having an incentive for thinking differently about women. Currently there is none unless they are personally on the wavelength.
Having powerful sponsors to give you opportunities that raise your profile.
Without quotas, I fear we will not see equality in my lifetime. We've been talking about this change for a long time and the change is not fast enough. On a separate note, I don't see flexible work practices as the issue - it is that society continues to function in a less flexible manner (e.g. school hours) for working parents.
Improving the skill level of women and increasing confidence in own ability to cut through and be successful.
Tone from the top turned into actions not platitudes.
Social change - around things like school hours, school holidays, the kinds of things that really defeat women when their children go to school. I think that's far more problematic than access to childcare.
Valuing quality of contribution and not just time spent in the office.
Education about gender bias.
I don't understand why four options related to child rearing.
Mandatory and/or non-mandatory quotas or targets for both men and women equally.
I am a working mother and find the flexible hours, childcare discussion to be a bit of red herring for corporate women who really can't expect to work standard hours if they are serious about their professional careers (everyone works long hours these days). Brisbane is a conservative city and most of the senior men have wives at home - deep down they think this is where women belong - they also don't want a woman messing with their boys' club and knowing just how much money is spent on networking lunches, dinners, etc.
I have been a successful executive leader for several years and I have never experienced sexism until recently. The problem is that senior men (largely CEOs) don't even know that they are being sexist - it is subconscious. For example I was recently told by my CEO that I was "lucky" to have a husband who collected my children. I replied that I thought my husband was "lucky" to have a wife who collected his children. I have also been told that the two women on the executive team could not "act as CEO" in the same period whilst he was away because it would be "too much" so he could only choose one woman and one man! I genuinely believe that these comments were not meant to be sexist but they are an indication of the unconscious sexism that exists in particularly that generation of senior leader.
Real incentives for middle managers to make this work for their staff. They tend not to have 'time' or the ability to make a return to work package flexible. There is no one right model but good case studies are important.
Increase in paid maternity leave entitlements.
More support for women throughout their working career to ensure that they remain working - it should not just be about return to work incentives. It was relatively easy to return to work with childcare close by but has become harder once children are at school and have events etc. which invariably mothers attend.