October 27, 2014 Leave a comment
Susanne talks about her journey to Gender Economics and why she has founded this movement to develop the concepts further.
Speaker, Social Commentator, Consultant Gender Economics
October 27, 2014 Leave a comment
Susanne talks about her journey to Gender Economics and why she has founded this movement to develop the concepts further.
October 23, 2014 Leave a comment
Yes sorry, HR people! Its true, Gender Diversity is NOT a Human Resources issue – it is an organisational opportunity! Yes thats right folks, it is all about the opportunity of opening up your organisation to INNOVATION through DIVERSITY and GENDER BALANCE. So often we think of diversity as just talking about women, but that is not the case. Increasingly cultural diversity is the opportunity to reap the benefits of different perspectives, practices and culture. Overlay this with gender balance and you get even more benefits. A culture that embraces diversity will naturally be more attractive to women, and will most likely benefit your entire staff, the community and the environment as well.
Sure, it is complex, but thats where the real benefits are – in managing COMPLEXITY. Imagine managers that are able to proactively manage across all aspects of a diverse environment. Imagine the opportunities for your business.
So often when I speak to organisations about diversity and gender, and they say the same thing. “We created a Diversity Council, and now we just don’t know where to go from here”. Or, I get the comments that organisations have come to a standstill when it comes to increasing gender balance. That’s often because they have diversity installed in the human resources area of the business, or are relying on HR professionals to solve the challenges of the whole organisation when it comes to the management of complextity. We are taking the wrong approach to this challenge. What is the first thing that gets done in terms of creating programs to attract and retain more women? Generally a Business Case – what for? A Business Case for Women? No one creates a Business Case for Men to work in an organisation. Think about it and that will go some way to uncovering the barriers to change. Change is being managed within the same old paradigms that created the ‘Business Case” in the first place. A justification to spend or to commence an activity, but diversity should not need a justification. Innovation doesn’t need to be justified when it happens, but it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. An environment that embraces and promotes an organisational capability of Innovation and Diversity has been created by the entire organisation. Sure HR is involved and often a lead player, but unless the change in culture is embraced by senior management and promoted as the new culture, nothing will happen, or it won’t be sustainable. Worse still, it may be seen as a failure and this is what is happening with many diversity programs. They start, they create the Diversity Council and then they stall.
The Diversity Program Review Framework, the DPRF can help your organisation to identify areas where innovation and performance can be improved by embracing diversity. Many of the recommendations developed for organisations through this process are already paying dividends and giving those organisations a ‘competitive edge’. This is a business opportunity, not a HR issue.
If you would like more information about the DPRF, and how your organisation can be assessed for a DPRF International Award, head to our website or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com for more details.
October 20, 2014 Leave a comment
This article by WENLEI MA news.com.au 28 August 2014, talks about the experiences of many pregnant employees who, once they are pregnant are ‘frozen out’ of general office day to day activities. Sometimes this is by just one person, in some cases it is that person’s manager and in some cases it is a freezing out by a number of people. What generally happens in that these women feel awful during one of the happiest times of their lives. Sadly, many of the women referred to in this article are high achievers who went through such an appalling experience whilst pregnant at work that they no longer wanted to return to the workplace.
So two things struck me about this article;
Firstly, it seems that this type of behaviour is common and is a tactic used by managers to either ‘get rid’ of the woman involved or to send her a message that they are displeased. They think that they have been inconvenienced by the potential time off required for that employee to have the baby.
Secondly, the issue of how this treatment affects the women is also interesting. This is most concerning and it is something that I have certainly seen before and not just with pregnant women. I have also experienced this behaviour from a male boss when I had challenged him on my renumeration package. Originally it was agreed that it would be increased in the first three months of employment and it was not tied to performance, but when the time rolled around he conveniently ‘forgot’ to speak to me about it. This meant that I had to tackle him on the subject, but instead of him just working through it with me or perhaps instigating a performance review, he decided to take offence that I had the gaul to ask for what was agreed and proceeded to stop speaking to me!! Yes you heard right. My manager decided that he would stop speaking to me and try to ignore me as much as possible and at the time I was a senior manager with most of the staff reporting to me. Can you believe it! Well I can because since then I have heard a number of women tell me that same sort of story about their experience with their boss or organisation. Often these women were, like me asking for what they were entitled to, others had disagreed or challenged their male manager and were now facing retribution for doing so. Strangely much of this behaviour is readily accepted in men but seen as ‘bossy’ or ‘aggressive’ in women. Why? because we are not behaving in the way that these men expect us to.
Unlike many women, I stuck it out and made a point of speaking to my manager and crashing through the wall of silence and the associated bad feelings that being shut out gives you. Unfortunately many, if not most women don’t. They leave the workplace preferring to create their own consulting companies or similar and we lose them from the corporate world all together. Again, sadly many of the men that I have spoken to about this issue tell me that ‘clearly they (the women) were not cut out for it (the work) in the first place’. This is the legacy that we are leaving by ‘opting out’. Some of us need to remain and tuff it out if we are to ever see a change because the exodus of women often just demonstrates to male managers that women are just not committed and likely to leave at the first sign that things are getting uncomfortable. Of course in a ‘mans world’, toughness, grit and determination agains the odds is seen as something to be respected and admired, and yes their experiences are invariably different, but no more important than what we expect many female managers to go through in the face of discrimination that can boarder on hostility and persecution.
Women don’t leave the corporate environment because it is too tough, they leave because they just don’t see the point in sticking around in toxic environments and being treated badly. Many women want to make a different to the world and this type of situation just holds them up, so they leave to pursue another way of achieving the same goal. Many leave because they just get sick of butting up against the masculinised way that are organisations are structured. Often this is at odds with a women’s aspirations, but not her ability.
We need to change the way that we do corporations, we need to pull them apart and put them back together in a way that recognises diversity and difference. I don’t mean just at a surface level. I mean that we need to start completely rethinking almost everything we know and think about in terms of the way that our corporations work and are managed. Changing behaviours is one thing but I think to make this change sustainable we need to also look at the underlying assumptions that we have on how we are rewarded, what we think of as value, what is performance and how do these things fit together to create a fully functioning environment that is not largely hostile to one gender. At the moment women are still working in environments where most functions, rules, policies, structures and even the business models used to create our strategies are largely masculine – or at least have been developed by and perpetuated by a largely male group, because women have not been involved until fairly recent history.
So unfortunately, Gender Discrimination is still rife in Australian Companies and pregnant women will continue to struggle until we address some of the underlying issues.
October 15, 2014 Leave a comment
I was listening to the National Press Club discussion about Superannuation today with a panel including John Brogden, former politician and now Chief Exec of the Financial Services Council. Brogden is expected to head up AICD in early 2015 and he said that “looking forward twenty years, when the head of AMP for example has $200 million of super funds to invest, he and others like him, will be listened to”. They will be listened to by the investment market, by ‘mums and dads’ and no doubt by government. With the $ value of managed funds expected to grow, what those companies invest in, or want to invest your super funds in will make a difference. Not just to your super nest egg, but to your life and the lives of your family. These ‘super’ funds will become even greater influencers to government policy, and the market economy than they are now.
If that is not scary enough, now think about who might be the key influencer in that company? No doubt the CEO or Chair of the Board. What is the gender, cultural and age diversity mix of the board and what sort of company culture have they developed? Do they have an interest in sustainability, do they have an interest in gender equity and equality, are they an inclusive company? Or, like many current organisations, the decision makers remain majority male. Yes sure, they may have a great understanding of the benefit of diversity, they may even be pro women, but if board gender diversity numbers of women continue to decline, we could be in for some startling outcomes over the next twenty years as raised by Brogden.
In twenty years our reliance on superannuation to fund our retirement will increase significantly and with larger and larger amounts of the elderly and pre retirement (50-65 year olds) already struggling, the impact could be dire. How will the current lack of women in senior leadership and boards play out in this scenario twenty years into the future?
Are you scared? You should be. Unless we can see more diversity in our top companies, and quickly, then we have the potential to have decisions made that benefit the few with the exclusion of the many. This is why it is vitally important that we encourage our girls and young women to invest now, to understand the investment cycle and plan for their future. Don’t leave the influencing decisions to others.
With rumblings in the Australia Super Industry and government about different ways to structure super and how and what super funds might invest in, it is important that we understand what is going on and what the ramifications might be for the future. For example, some of the rumblings mentioned in todays Press Club Event by Chief Executive of Industry Super Australia, David Whiteley were; investing 5% of super in public infrastructure, or not making super contributions compulsory for low income earners because well, “they will always be on benefits anyway”. Note this is not necessarily Whiteley’s view, he was merely demonstrating the potential issues when large amounts of money are involved and then mixed with value judgements, bias and in some cases downright discrimination or stupidity.
The potential to degrade the lives of others by limiting diverse opinions on some of these boards could be real. The resultant economic impact could be gendered if we don’t do something about the gender pay gap and gap in superannuation savings between men and women now. Think about where the money and influencers are? They are normally heads of state, CEOs or owners of large corporations, the banking and finance industry, or leaders in industry segments all trying to do the best for their shareholders. With the increasing amount of money accumulating in superannuation, we are seeing another major influencer being created.
Thinking forward and looking under the surface of what is happening and pointing out the gendered implications is what Gender Economics is all about. Contact us at The Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation for more information about innovative board strategy, research on economic decision making and creating a diverse high performance culture.
September 23, 2014 Leave a comment
By Emily Bencic
Susanne Moore is founder and Executive Chair of the Centre for Gender Economics and Innovation, Sydney, which aims to improve women’s contribution to the economy and help women achieve their leadership potential. The Centre works with industry groups, government agencies, educators and business to deliver consulting services and research outcomes.
With a diverse background in business, finance, administration, government and IT (all male-dominated industries!), Susanne came to realise that what was being done for women was not working. She observed that we had been doing the same things with the same conversation for as long as she could remember and it just did notseem to be shifting anything in terms of gender balance, greater equity for women and an increase in a woman’s ability to influence economic and political agendas. The conversation around gender balance needs to focus less on flexibility in our workplaces and talk instead, about the business advantages of having a balanced workforce, including gender balance, and how this impacts organisational profitability.
What is your background?
I founded and managed a multi million dollar consulting company that specialisedin Business Transformation, Project Management and Outsourced environments for fourteen years until closing it in 2010 to pursue other interests. We had a number of major clients, including AMEX, IAG, Sydney Water and Kasikorn Bank, Thailand and provided consulting across Asia Pacific. My consulting specialty was the re-negotiation of contract relationships that had gone sour, mentoring and support of our clients senior executives and the reinvigoration of client projects that had to be recovered. Prior to this I worked for both government and corporate in Finance and Administration and managed a number of high profile projects.
After commencing a degree in Sociology and Business Management in 2011, I started to develop the concept of Gender Economics and Diversity Economics and how changing the way that we present the facts can change how our organisations think about, and relate to women. At a macro and governmental level this translates to economic policy and, I believe greater profitability and innovation in our organisations. Sadly, Australia is slow to realise these concepts, but Gender Economics as a field of study and as a mechanism to create real and measurable change is increasingly being talked about, most recently with UN Women in New York.
I am not your average person and do not easily relate to women so it is surprising that I have taken this path in some ways. As an Entrepreneur I have had a number of ups and downs, with big financial successes and also the lows of not enough and the struggle to find the next opportunity.
I have also had a successful retail and wholesale gift business, ran numerous news agencies with my ex-husband and even had a market stall selling soap on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland.
SEE THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW HERE – Connected Women
September 23, 2014 Leave a comment
If haven’t already seen this – you must! She nails the description of feminism as simply ‘equality for both men and women’, (yes, this is the theory). She talks about the ‘inadvertent feminists’ that saw her only as an equal. She points out that “men don’t have the benefit of equality also”, and finally she asks these questions; “If not me, WHO?”, If not now, WHEN?” Do yourself a favour and listen. If you are a gender diversity fence sitter or a CEO that doesn’t see the benefits of gender balance and equal pay, then listen to this.
September 18, 2014 Leave a comment
I am keen to understand what the average spend is on Diversity programs and how this spend relates to other organisational priorities. From my experience so far, it seems that there is commonly an amount spent on setting up the Diversity Board and then very often the program stalls. I am continually dismayed at the rhetoric that says that organisations are keen to increase gender balance, yet the amount spent on the activity is very low and in some cases equal to the amount an organisation may spend on a day at the football for their clients as a marketing activity.
Many organisations don’t have an ongoing Diversity Budget so after the set up of the Diversity Board stalls, it is difficult to gain approval for any further activity. Clearly if any activity is not set up for success, then it is likely to fail and I constantly hear the same comments from senior managers who just don’t understand why they can’t successfully attract and retain women. These comments are typically; “we have given them (women) leadership training, we have provided them (women) mentoring, and we have done unconscious bias training”. They then look at me puzzled as if they have done everything in their power to fix the problem, yet women just don’t respond. It is so much more complex than this, but that is for another post!
If I can collect some simple $ metrics then I can start to build an argument about the value of gender balance to organisations in relation to their spend on the activity. My guess is that most are spending very little and then wonder why they are not getting any tangible results. Many of the programs that I assess currently are not set up for success in the same way that we would set up and IT program – again this could be due to a lack of commitment and funding or just a lack of experience and knowledge about setting up a program.
PLEASE DO THIS QUICK 5 QUESTION SURVEY
Can you please take part in this simple 5 question survey as part of my ongoing research into the effectiveness of organisational diversity programs and their real importance to organisations. https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/Diversity-spend
July 17, 2014 Leave a comment
Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY
How often have you said, “I’m sorry”, “I can’t” or “I must” and felt the pressure of expectation on your shoulders. You might have felt burdened and unmotivated, confused or even angry. This is one of the biggest performance issues that hold us and our staff back but you can change your inner game and start to change the conversations with yourself that influence your beliefs and ultimately, your life.
During my Diversity Assessments and Gender Consulting, I often find that some women and men are almost held hostage by their own beliefs about themselves and the role that they think they need to fulfil in society. These beliefs do affect the way that we behave, they affect the way that we think of ourselves and this can translate into the way that we treat others, particularly our expectations of what other people should be doing. When we add traditional stereotypes to our judgements, these behaviours and beliefs can sabotage us. Sometimes you might feel like you can’t go forward and you can’t go back, you don’t know what decision to make and you feel totally worn out by ‘pushing against’ the norm, trying to get what you feel you deserve.
In speaking to hundreds of women over the last couple of years, I have found that we often fall into our gendered stereotypes even when we are actively working against them! I often hear statements that in effect, relegate the person into the very stereotype that they are trying to escape. I think that this is because we have been socialised we don’t even realise where our thoughts are coming from and this can lead to internal conflict. In our private lives this can manifest in all sorts of ways, but in our workplaces this can manifest as a lack of motivation, confusion and a degradation of performance.
I’m here to tell you that this is an organisational issue, not just a personal issue.
I believe that we won’t truly see greater women’s participation in leadership until we start to work on our inner game. For example, many of the young intelligent women that I speak to, tell me things like, “I have to take time off to have a baby”, or “My kids”, or “I have to”, or “I can’t”. They sometimes feel burdened and concerned about their job and how they will be perceived by others if they return, or if they don’t return to work. Its like you can’t win either way. When I talk to them about having a baby and how their organisation might support them, I ask them why they think they must take the time off and not their husband or partner. I point out that in actuality, they could have the baby and return to work almost immediately. They look at me strangely because they believe without a doubt that the child rearing, and particularly the early child rearing is their job. They must take the full burden of it, and to consider anything else is unheard of. If we are being perfectly fair, the child’s father could take over virtually straight away. Many new mothers don’t breast feed, so you could argue that it is only the time to recover from the birth that needs to be taken into account. Of course most mothers want to stay at home, and their are lots of studies that suggest that this is the best course of action, but in what paradigm is that? Don’t you wonder what lens and value system was in place when these studies were done, and what was the level of choice of those women at the time? Did they feel that they could really be honest and say that their career was really important or did they feel the enormous pressure of motherhood to be perfect and happy with this new life? How much of this pressure was self imposed?
We can challenge how we think about ourselves and reconsider our beliefs about ourselves, but in order to do this we need to look at our identity, what it means to us and how it is reflected by and affected by society and other people.
What might you achieve if you challenged the established norms of society? Check out our latest Working Session, “Be a Game Changer by changing your Inner Game – EMPOWERED IDENTITY”
July 12, 2014 Leave a comment
Originally posted on Changing Women:
This is an interesting one, why was I seen as upset by a couple of women when complaining about a service this week and not plain annoyed? I’m sure if I was a man, my complaint would have been seen as me being annoyed or even angry, but you don’t hear that a man is upset when he is complaining about something?
View original 592 more words
May 13, 2014 Leave a comment
The increasing social issue of teenagers that get blind drunk on our streets as a entertainment pursuit is alarming but is there a message in the behaviour that we as adults just aren’t getting. The behaviour is a form of recognition and belonging, and I think a form of protest against contemporary society and its values, many of which indicate a double standard. You would think that a young girl passed out on the ground with her skirt up around her waist would be shameful, but its not in this new social accepted-ness that sees our youth drunk and disorderly. Part of the badge of honour is to have your photo taken by someone else to prove that you have managed to ‘enjoy’ yourself so much and have drunk so much alcohol that you have now passed out on the street, exposing yourself to all sorts of danger in the name of fun. Somehow this act has turned to recognition and maybe even a protest of difference. They are challenging our idea of shame and turning it into a badge of honour that gives them membership to a group of ‘strangers’ to society. The group of those protesting and wanting to be recognised for their own difference and identity.
From my reading of Gaita (2002) and his distinction between guilt and shame, I think that it is shame that is most powerful. I found the most interesting was the discussion about the Holocaust where unbelievable pain and suffering experienced by so many. It’s almost like we can easily keep functioning as humans with just guilt, but when we add shame to the mix, a realisation of what we have done and how it has affected others comes apparent and I think that this is ‘shame’. As Nora Levin ‘put it’, some of the prose was written with ‘bleeding eyes’ (pg 277), an extreme outpouring of pain as a result of trauma. Sure, the perpetrators may have felt guilty – and been found guilty of crimes but it is only when they understand “this kind of truth and reality” with an ‘informed heart’, do they understand and feel shame.
I certainly think that Gaita is onto something by linking together shame and recognition. It seems that the pathway to the acknowledgement of ‘shame’ is through a process of an ‘informed heart’, more than an acceptance of culpability or guilt. It goes to the core of a person and enlists deep and powerful feelings that must awaken‘recognition’ of the issue whether that is damage to someone or something else, or damage to oneself by actions.
Honneth, Axel (1995), ‘Personal Identity and Disrespect: The Violation of the Body, the Denial of Rights, and the Denigration of Ways of Life’ in Axel Honneth and Charles Taylor,The Struggle for Recognition: The Moral Grammar of Social Conflict, Polity Press.
Gaita, Raimond (2002), ‘Guilt, Shame and Collective Responsibility’ in Michelle Gratten (ed) Reconciliation, Melbourne, Black Inc.