Interview with guest speaker: Jade Collins30 January 2019
We recently interviewed Jade Collins, Director of Femeconomy and guest speaker at our 2019 International Women’s Day luncheons. Here, Jade answers some questions about IWD and what it means to her.
The theme for International Women’s Day in 2019 is balance for better. What do you identify as the most important area that professionals and companies alike could be developing that will work towards greater balance?
There are two areas that are interlinked: unconscious (and conscious) bias and the male breadwinner cultural stereotype. It’s up to every individual to recognise that we all have inherent bias, to start to reflect on what yours are, how they developed and challenge ourselves to be more inclusive. Unconscious bias means women are less likely to be promoted to leadership roles.
Dismantling and rethinking the male breadwinner model can be achieved through job design. Currently our legacy organisational structures are designed around factory work, and a time when men worked and women (who could afford to) stayed home to run the household.
The model, and our community expectation, hasn’t changed to recognise women’s vastly increased workforce participation, nor to accommodate dual career couples or people with caring responsibilities, other life commitments or interests. For people to achieve balance – at work and at home – it is critical that work is designed with this balance in mind.
Our caring models are still culturally entrenched with women as unpaid carers, and men largely excluded. If we designed organisations to allow for both genders to take on caring responsibilities, that’s a great start. It needs to be genuinely encouraged and role modelled at a leadership level to succeed, like any system wide change.
Leaders who are serious about driving inclusive organisational cultures recognise gender diversity as a strategic advantage.
Femeconomy is about empowering individuals to make better choices. What can resources professionals do today that will have a positive impact on equality in the future?
Femeconomy is about using purse power to accelerate gender equality. Each of us can act every day, as individuals and professionals to use our purchasing and procurement decisions to accelerate gender equality.
Femeconomy approved brands have at least 30% women on the board of directors or a minimum of 50% female ownership. Research shows 30% of women on the Board of Directors is the proportion when critical mass is reached to create change. In a group setting, the voices of the minority group become heard in their own right, rather than simply representing the minority. Organisations with 30% or more of women on the Board of Directors are also more profitable.
Companies can use 30% female leadership as part of their supplier criteria. They can set the procurement benchmark for other companies to create opportunities for female leadership and in turn, increase their own profitability.
As individual consumers, we habitually shop with 10 brands. Think about your top 10 brands. Your groceries. Your petrol. Your insurance. Your clothes. Check your top 10 brands are Femeconomy approved, and if some aren’t, decide to switch brands. By choosing female led brands, you can advance gender equality with every purchase.
What would be your advice for resources professionals trying to drive change conversations in their workplace?
Firstly, to enlist support. It’s crucial to have the support of senior leaders in order to drive meaningful and sustainable organisational change. Secondly, to understand the compelling business case. Research the facts, know the current numbers in your own business, in comparison with external industry and international benchmarks, and be able to present the case for change.
There are many examples of bright spots within the resources industry where companies have taken on the challenge of increasing their gender equality, inclusion and diversity.
Thirdly, gender equality is not a zero sum, or ‘them and us’ proposition. It’s about women and men both having gender equality. Everyone benefits.
If you were asked to reflect on your own experiences in the workforce and the female role models in your life, both professionally and personally, why would you say International Women’s Day is important to you?
International Women’s Day (IWD) is an important day to me because it provides the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the contribution that women make to every facet of our global society, in work settings and across the community. Women’s stories often go untold, and IWD is an opportunity to remedy this imbalance.
It’s a catalyst to spark crucial conversations about how we can advance gender equality faster. No country in the world has achieved gender equality, and IWD provides us with a day globally to hone in on how we can further our progress.
It’s a chance to recognise the women on whose shoulders we stand today, who have – often at great personal cost – fought for our generation of women to enjoy many of the rights we now take for granted, and to remember that women in many other parts of the world are still struggling to achieve these same freedoms.
It’s a day to galvanise our resolve to achieve gender equality in our lifetime.