My Interview with Connected Women as “Woman of the Week”

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.


Emma Watson UN speech 21 September, 2014

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.

Diversity Spend in Relation to (perceived) Value – 5 QUESTION SURVEY

Innovation_LGlogoI 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.


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.


“I’m sorry”, “I can’t”, “I must” – lets change that inner voice

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”

She’s Upset but he’s Annoyed – more language talk

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?

Recently, I found this happened to me during a conversation with three women at my Daughters school where I was complaining about the difficulty getting a response from the accounts area to check the school fee bill.   I was complaining about the service and the lack of ability of someone to take a message and return a call.  Instead of my complaint being relayed correctly, or even half correctly to the person in charge, the first thing that they said to me when getting on the phone to me…

View original 592 more words

The link between shame and recognition, teenage drunkenness and difference

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.

The Benefits of Diversity to perspective and decision making

I think that this quote from a book by Friedman that talks about friendship and moral growth can be easily applied to how greater gender balance and cultural diversity can make a difference to organisational decisions.  If you take out the word, moral, this quote highlights how diversity can give those in our organisations autonomy to make the right choices and decisions, based on a wider range of inputs.

“The greater the diversity of perspectives one can adopt for assessing rules, values, principals and character, the greater the degree of one’s autonomy in making moral choices” (Friedman 1993, pg.; 202)


Friedman, Marilyn (1993), ‘Friendship and Moral Growth’, What Are Friends For?’ in Feminist Perspectives on Personal Relationships and Moral Theory. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, pp. 187-207.

Equal Pay Day 3rd September 2013 – Vox Pops WEB

Mining, Engineering, Finance and IT all have something in common when it comes to encouraging girls into the field.

In my work in the mining industry doing Diversity Assessments I have found that there is some commonality in the way this industry and IT have to work towards encouraging girls to enter.  Focus on the skills of the future and not the skills of the past.  Engineering provides the pathway to future development and sustainability and this appeals to women.  Studies in female investment show that women are more discerning when making decisions, looking closely at the details, they are interested in longevity and an organizations ability to support environmental sustainability.  They also like to ‘give back’ through investment and this research can be applied to the mining industry.   Information technology provides the skills to live in contemporary society where decisions and influence are done via technology.  Therefore they are ‘must have’s’, its not about telling girls that maths and science is cool.  Its about reframing the proposition so it makes sense to girls.

Are you programmed to support?

Pretty Woman

Pretty Woman

Many women have been socialised over decades in a female gender role which encourages them to be supportive, not to speak up and to defer to a male decision maker.  We are encouraged to be pretty, attractive, sexy and basically looked at and admired so it is hardly surprising that many women don’t know how to move past this stereotype and create new behaviours and expectations for themselves that allow them to more past some of the limitations of our traditional gendered roles.

In the workplace this can reduce their effectiveness, and may hinder their ability for promotion.  This is often more evident in non managerial roles where the role dictates that you are a supporter and not a leader.  In my Gender and Diversity work, I often hear managers say that women are given every opportunity to ‘step up’ but they just don’t and I think that some of this is due to that socialisation and the women’s own idea of what is expected of her.  Just providing the opportunities won’t be enough, we also need to change entrenched behaviours, our own self identity and our own expectations of ourselves as women to really make the change so diversity programs need to be aware of this when they are designed.  Unfortunately it is a longer road than many CEO’s will fund, but the pay offs in the long run are worth it for those that can make the leap.


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