rape in the fields imageI speak to so many young women in the corporate world that continue to tell me there is no issue with equality and that they don’t see any discrimination in their workplace. Often times, what they say to me is actually a reinforcement of discrimination directed at women and they don’t even recognize what they have said.  These women are isolated from the real world in their comfy cosy corporate jobs and high paid salaries and seem to have little connection to the real world of struggling to pay bills, living on a parents pension and having little support or people to turn to in times of need.  In many cases and I can tell you from my experience and the experience of others that unforeseen circumstances (including Domestic Violence) can plunge you into a position of vulnerability that decreases your level of influence and decision making ability.  Once there it is extremely hard to get yourself back on top, even with an education, good contacts and some financial security

A recent article by PBS‘ Frontline, “Rape in the Fields (of America)”, 25 June 2013 talks about the issues that many female farm workers in America have to deal with on a daily basis just to earn a living.  Many are subjected to rape, sexual innuendo and violence whilst they are trying to go about the working day.  These are hard working low income workers who are trying to improve the lot for their families, yet have to struggle against workplace abuse that many young women in Australia  have no concept of, and let’s hope, never have to confront.  There is a saying that some people are more equal than others and this certainly is the case for women, even when comparing yourself to another women for example, the circumstances are often so different that you wonder if you are on the same planet.

Just because it’s not happening to you, doesn’t mean that it isn’t happening.  If your life took a change for the worst wouldn’t you want someone aware of the injustices to help you fight for your freedom?

See the full post here

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/social-issues/rape-in-the-fields/female-workers-face-rape-harassment-in-u-s-agriculture-industry/

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Don’t think its not happening just because you are OK

What did Julia do for us?


English: Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gil...

Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard at a Q & A Session in Rooty Hill, New South Wales (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The recent events with the Australian Leadership of the Labour Party and the events that overturned Julia Gillard as Prime Minister has meant almost everyone I meet wants to know what I think about it.  This probably has something to do with the fact that I am a gender consultant and studying sociology, but really, I think that it goes far deeper than that.  I think this seemingly small ripple in the workings of a political party and our Parliament has caused a greater ripple in the minds of many women and men.  They know that there was something very wrong with the way our first female Prime Minister was treated, and they way she was treated was not the same as the previous Prime Minister Rudd was treated throughout his term and at his demise.  Yes, Gillard may have usurped Kevin Rudd when she came into power, but she hardly played on the fact that he was a man at the time.  He also didn’t have to deal with questions about his partner’s sexual preferences from smart arsed radio announcers wanting to take a swipe at a female leader.

The leadership spill and the various issues around gender during the Gillard Prime Ministership highlight the very same issues that many women face but often can’t articulate.  Ms Gillard’s leadership and calm resolve served to highlight the issue of gender and sexism more clearly than ever before.  It has put Australia on the world stage as a country that still discriminates against gender.

Recently I was in Madrid speaking about Gender Economics and both women and men likened Australia to the masculine culture of Spain where women still suffer blatant discrimination.  Not something that most Australian’s would ever think about, and most would dispute this with open laughter, but we are not as equal in Australia as we think.  We like to think that in Australia, everyone has a ‘fair go’ and we treat ‘our mates’ with fairness, but here is the thing.  We don’t treat all men equally and we very often don’t treat women as equal to men.  Unless you are someone that fits the criteria of a ‘mate’, which generally speaking, is a man, you don’t fit into the world of ‘mateship’ and a ‘fair go’ for everyone.

What happened to Julia has happened to many women.  It has happened to me only last year in the corporate world.  Most women just can’t explain what has happened to them, but they know it isn’t right and it doesn’t feel good and it isn’t fair.  What’s more, it’s no good for society in general to have large tracks of the population treated so badly, yet when they speak up about the abuse or the unfairness are treated as if they are the problem.  We saw this with Julia – she was accused of ‘playing the gender card’ when she spoke out.  I am here to tell you that men have played the gender card for centuries and just don’t like it when it is highlighted to them.

So often as women when we cite ‘sexism’ we start a discussion that quickly turns against the women who has highlighted it and I believe this is largely because we don’t equip them with the history, the knowledge and the means to fully address the onslaught of crap that comes back at them.  I constantly find that just the mere mention that a Facebook comment is derogatory or sexist results in reams of discussions from men calling my whole being into question.  Talk about emotional!  Some of the stuff that gets thrown at you is just so irrational and emotional it is amazing, but point that out and you are then called a ‘feminist’ like it is the worst thing a person could be called.  These men try to belittle you with the “come on, it’s a joke”, or “you must be a very bitter person”, or whatever else they can think of that might just shift the contents of their sexism to the person it was aimed at instead of looking at what they said in the first place.

What happened to me and to Julia is what is happening to women everywhere.  Whilst we are getting on with the job, there is a glamorous man swanning around making a name for himself.  I know in my own situation, I was so busy trying to get the program I was hired to get back on track that I had little time to put the brakes on one of the men in the team who was busily making a name for himself and in the processes caused more work than was needed.  This is a pack mentality, glamour attracts and in many cases, it attracts others who stand on the side of the glamorous instead of the one’s doing the work.  Ultimately, just like Julia one of the glamour man’s cohorts took over my job.  I knew what he was up to, it was easy to see – the trouble is that those in leadership don’t see what is actually going on and so glamour wins out in preference to substance and action.  In the corporate world, you can’t cite the gender card, you can’t be seen to discriminate, but there are other ways that sexism can bring you down.  These people stick together; they wage a war of glamour, of sparkle with a publicity machine that the big banks would envy.  In short, they are not worried about how the work is done, they are worried about how they are seen whilst the work is done, and usually this work is done by others.  They use terms like ‘she’ like it is abusive language, saying it in the same way that Tony Abbott would refer to Julia Gillard – when he would refer to the Prime Minister he would use the word ‘she’ like it was a swear word – it had an edge to it.  When ‘she’ is said this way it says I don’t respect you, I am annoyed at you for being here, it says how dare you challenge my status as a man.  They feel that their higher status as a man is threatened and they don’t like it.  If you challenge this view like Julia and I did, then expect hostility and repercussions.  I am glad that I stood up and didn’t take this treatment lying down.  Like Julia I spoke up, I made them hear what they didn’t want to hear and the repercussion was that I lost the job but I am so much better for it.

Not all men behave like this of course, and I think that more and more men are aware of the way their own belief systems and gendered expectations can affect the way that they view women.  These deep underlying beliefs and pictures of gendered stereotypes and what society expects of our gendered roles can cause them to go along with the results of sexist, demeaning and aggressive behaviour without thinking and so the sexist discourse continues.

This process can be damaging to women and ultimately it is damaging to those men.  For many women treated this way, it damages them in a way that makes them stand aside, shut up, stop trying and fade into the background.  For those of us that fight back, we get hostility and endless accusations and comments that the sexist comments are more a figment of our own imagination than the views of the male that has made the comments.  It doesn’t matter the tone of the context of the comment, if a women is offended – then call it what you like, she is offended and has every right to be offended.  She doesn’t need to justify why and she certainly shouldn’t need to defend herself against speaking up.  In some cases the actual word is fine, just like Abbott and the use of the ‘she’ word for Gillard, the damaging part is the tone and context in which the word is used and that’s why so many women have been offended by Ms Gillard’s treatment.  Its a mixture of tone, context and the continuousness of the attacks.  Each attack on its own my seem trivial and for many women this is difficult to articulate when it is laughed off so easily by the person delivering the offending comment.

So what has Julia done for us?  She demonstrated strength of character under the constant barrage of extremely difficult gender attacks, but more importantly, the spotlight has been shone on the level of personal assaults as a result of her gender and the sheer number of them over an extended period which has provided us with a huge amount of evidence that can now be researched.

We need to create a dialog that informs women and gives them the tools for a rational discourse on issues that they experience as a result of their gender and give them the information that allows them to respond rationally and with clear evidence when inequality raises its head.  I believe that this dialog will help men to understand what is happening and will lead us to a greater understanding of the behaviours that marginalise and disadvantage some in our community.  Ultimately, this will lead to social change that will benefit all in the community because the focus is on inclusion rather than exclusion and privilege.

FOOTNOTE;

I am organizing the 2014 Global Conference on Gender Economics which aims to work through the issues combining academic research and corporate, business and government case studies to get a dialogue on a rational approach to addressing the many issues of policy that have an underlying gender bias.

 

GENDER EQUALITY ESSENTIAL TO INCREASING ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY


Can you imagine a world where each morning you wake up and face a day where you find that you are going out into a world that throws obstacles in your way at every turn and when you try to explain those obstacles, you just cannot?  You know they exist, you feel the results of them; you know that some people treat you differently.  Sometimes people talk as if you don’t exist, or worse make light of what you are saying whilst you are standing there as if you aren’t there at all.  You know something is happening that feels like exclusion but when someone asks, you are not able to explain what you mean.  You know you could have a better job, you could have more money and you could feel more in charge of your life but somehow these simple things elude you.  People around you tell you that you should be grateful for what you have and that you should not worry.  You are so lucky and other people wish that they were just like you, but you feel that every day you are fighting against issues and inequalities that are sometimes overwhelming.  They drain you and worry you, and ultimately drag you down making you weary and less inclined to speak up again tomorrow.  In fact, the tiredness silences you.

Sadly, this is how many women feel way too often.  It might be that we do way more housework than our partners, and we are just sick of asking them to step up.  Alternatively, that you have put off something important so many times because you feel guilty that you aren’t doing what you should be doing, these thoughts of something better just get pushed to the background yet again, and you feel hopeless.  It is hard because there is a complex array of inequalities that are both seen and unseen and although it seems like some barriers have been removed, in practice they still exist and you feel constrained and not able to live up to your full potential.

It might be because you are just living over the poverty line as a single parent and each day is a struggle.  You feel you don’t have a voice and the more you try to get ahead the harder each day seems to get.  Each year another government policy comes into force that is supposed to ‘help you’, but instead creates even more complex issues for you to overcome, and you get more weary and less inclined to try each time another setback happens.

It might be that we feel we work really hard at our jobs, are highly educated and productive but are continually passed over for promotion year after year when we see the promotion go to someone we know is less productive and less capable.

On the other hand, that you hear on the news that ‘only 17 countries have a female President or Prime Minister and women’s average presence in parliaments across the globe is only 21% of the total ministers.  Recent actual voting data using the Chilean voter model, found that women were less likely to vote for a women than they would for a man’ regardless of policy (Francisco Pino, 2013)[i].  You wonder, “why don’t women support each other?”  All this makes you tired, tired of swimming upstream and fighting against the odds that seem so insurmountable that you think no one could ever win against them.

This is what life is like for many women, even the successful ones.

It is early days and we have centuries of behaviours and societal norms to change before we really see big changes in gender equality.  These behaviours exist for both men and women and can be as simple as the belief by young women that she has to wait for the man to ask her to marry, instead of just asking him.  All this waiting has the effect of silencing women, subordinating them to the backseat of decision-making.  Of marking time until ‘something changes’, and ultimately it prevents many women from getting ‘off the sidelines’[ii] and getting on with it.

In the workplace, many of our organisations are developing gender diversity policies to combat some of these issues.  Some are more successful than others are, but the important thing is that we have begun.  Now we need to really leverage these initiatives and turn theory and rhetoric into economic performance and a more equitable living condition for women and minorities.  I believe that by ‘silencing’ the weary women we are constraining our ability to resolve many of the organisational performance issues that hamper our economies, largely because our organisational leaders don’t hear women’s voices often and loud enough – the voices that provide alternative views and ways of thinking.

Australia has been relatively successful in increasing women’s participation in the workforce, but there is still a long way to go and many prejudices and discriminatory practices lie just beneath the surface.  The new gender indicators introduced by legislation in 2012 by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency WGEA, 2012[iii], previously known as EEO, seeks to unmask some of these underlying and often hidden issues.

“What is important to recognise is that an organisation’s gender culture is hidden behind the dominate rhetoric of equality, (Benschop and Doorewaad, 1998; Tienari et al., Ainsworth et al. (2009) in North-Samadizic (2011)[iv].  For example, in an analysis of reports to Australia’s EEO regulatory body, Ainsworth et al. (2009) demonstrated how organisations are blind to gender through unstated male norms that suppress gender differences“.  North-Samadizic (2011).  They gave the example of organisations stating in reports that gender is irrelevant or insignificant to the hiring and promotions process.”  Therefore, gender structure, gender identity and gender symbolisism can limit equality if it is present in the ‘gendered subtexts of organisational rhetoric’ (Taska 2011).

That is; although these organisations purport to have equality, assessments show there remains a bias’ in recruitment processes and within cultural behaviours themselves.  Gender Symbolism and subtexts, both verbal and behavioural convey a set of ‘meanings’ that can maintain gender inequalities by quietly working to prevent change in environments where women are seen as the ‘other’.  This plays into stranger theories where white male masculinity is the norm and the term ‘woman’ can hold less value that the term ‘man’.

Imagine this instead.

Now imagine a world where all the seen and unseen barriers to women’s success are removed and think about the incredible potential that is now unleashed.  With economies struggling all over the globe, isn’t it about time we smashed through these barriers and took advantage of this potential.  If women were a commodity (and sometimes they are seen as that), or assets in a storeroom any business would seek to improve that assets performance instead of marginalising it and leaving it to underperform.  We don’t see women as a natural and valuable resource.  We often see them as expendable as collateral damage in war or simply there to support others or provide menial labour, and worse we see them as a cost to society and our organisations because of their biology.  This valuable biology carries the promise of new life, the birthing of children without which there would be no need for discussions about performance, economics and politics because simply, there would be no humankind.

Why do we let the enormous potential of half this valuable population languish?

Just think for a moment what it would be like to be freed of the expectations of physical beauty and the never-ending focus on sexiness and youth and instead we welcomed experience and substance.  Imagine if it was just as easy for women to excel in their jobs and for female entrepreneurs to have the same access to capital as their male counterparts do because they are more able to tap into existing networks where capital raising is common.  Imagine a world where stay at home parents were valued, able to nurture their families without the threat of poverty or losing valuable job experience at every turn.  Imagine a world where we no longer referred to ‘the burden of childcare” and instead this cost was factored in across society because it is seen as valuable.

Our economies would benefit from new industries and new ways of thinking instead of the current system that fails us at regular intervals because it is built on the boom and bust mentality of status, greed and power instead of sustainability and common sense.  The finance sector takes pride in being able to predict the next bull or bear market instead of planning on sustainability and inclusion.

In short, gender equality is essential to increasing economic sustainability, increasing organisational performance and breathing new life into the way we think, work and live.

What a world it is going to be!

DOWNLOAD THE PAPER HERE


[i] PINO (2013), “Is there Gender Bias Among Voters?  Evidence from the Chilean Congressional Elections” White Paper VI Cosme-FEDEA Annual Workshop on Gender Economics, Madrid Spain

[ii] Off the Sidelines, a movement by US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand http://www.offthesidelines.org/home

[iii] EEO, Equal Opportunity for Women, now known as Workplace Gender Equality Agency, http://www.wgea.gov.au/

[iv] Andrea North-Samardizic, Lucy Taksa, (2011), “the impact of gender culture on women’s career trajectories: an Australian case study”, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion: An International Journal, Vol. 30 Iss: 3 pp. 196-216

Would you like to find out more about the Diversity Program Review Framework?


Research ComponentsIf you have been following my blog you will know that I am in the midst of a research project into the “Profit Impact of Organisational Gender Diversity Programs” and as part of that research I have developed the Diversity Program Review Framework.  If you would like to find out more about this framework, please click on the link above in the menu or go to the new website here.

Thanks for your support.

Susanne

AWRA Recognised Program™, Australian Women in Resources Alliance uses the Diversity Program Review Framework


AMMA-logoThe Australian Women in Resources Alliance (AWRA) is an industry-led initiative dedicated to helping employers attract, retain and reap the rewards of women in resources workplaces. AWRA is jointly funded by the Australian Government through the National Resource Sector Workforce Strategy and the resource industry employer group AMMA, with leadership from industry bodies and employers across Australia. The AWRA Program is delivering a range of projects to inform and support employers and one of those programs is the AWRA Recognised Program™ which recognises AMMA industry members as a Preferred Employer of Women against a assessment using my Diversity Program Review Framework™ as a basis.

To be able to utilise an AWRA stamp, organisations must undergo an assessment of their workplace policies, procedures and, most importantly practices, to assess the organisation’s capability maturity against best practice management of workplace (gender) diversity.

The assessment to become AWRA Recognised™ is based on a rigorous and recognised model of diversity capability, and goes beyond traditional “HR-centric” metrics to assess more broad business dimensions with clear links to organisational profitability and sustainability.

The assessment outcome provides concise feedback on an organisation’s current diversity strategy, and together with the capability maturity model, helps organisations to plan the changes necessary to reap the rewards of a gender diverse workforce whilst taking into account the different stages of the organisations journey toward best practice.

The Diversity Program Review Framework™ that underpins the AWRA Recognised Program™ allows us to baseline gender diversity program’s for future monitoring and reporting against the WGEA gender indicators.

I am very pleased to have this opportunity to complete a ‘slim version’ of the overarching framework as part of the AWRA Recognised Program™.  The data collected from resultant assessments will form a rich source of research data for my overarching research project.

REFERENCES

Australian Mines and Metals Associationhttp://www.amma.org.au/

Channel 9 Australia puts complainers through to a recorded message!


I have rung Channel 9 now twice to complain firstly about Days of Our Lives being replaced with The Block without notice and the second time to complain about the way the first call was handled.  

The first time I called, without any notice I was immediately transferred to a recorded message about Days being replaced by the Block as soon as I mentioned Days of Our Lives,  In fact I am not sure I even got the whole thing out!  I was actually ringing to tell them that it would have been nice to have had some notice after yesterday’s how, although I recognise that they might have last minute changes.

I rang again to complain about the way my first call was handled – so disrespectful, and on the second call the girl on the other end was really annoyed. Such a lack of care for your loyal audience to just put this on without notice and to then treat people who wish to complain with a recorded message is disgusting. I suppose you think it is just a bunch of little old ladies at home watching so it doesn’t matter?  You might think that those of us that watch the odd bit of Days during the day are losers anyway so why does it matter?  Well for me, after working really hard all day, my brain needed some urgent down time and I thought a cup of tea and the mind numbing Days would do the trick so on goes the tellie.

Channel 7 tried this tactic to introduce new shows during times when they had built up a following with another show and it is really disgusting.  I think that they did it during “Desperate Housewife‘s” to introduce the next show.  I don’t even know what the next one was now as all this tactic does for me to stops me watching the new show on principal.

The big issue for me here is that the mechanism to complain via telephone (or get information) was not open to me.  The second girl spoke over the top of me, didn’t want to let me finish and kept threatening to put me on hold, telling me to get to the point!  As soon as she answered this was what I was trying to get out.  “Don’t transfer me to the automated message when (interrupts and I start again), I mention Days of Our life (interrupts and tells me to get to the point!), but the way that my call was” (she says here is the address for complaints and starts telling me without waiting for me to get a pen), and then, she says ” I will put you on hold!”.  At that point I hung up and contacted Free TV Australia.

What is most upsetting in all of this is that you can’t get to speak to one of our major broadcasters about their customer service – not to mention their programing decisions.  Disgusting.

So here we have a major media influencer in Channel 9, and they are so hard to get to someone with a compliant that it really says to me that they have little regard for regulation or their audience.  What other business would treat you like this and get away with it?

Go here to complain using the Free TV Australia website.

The History of arbitration and Industrial Relations in Australia’s Gender Wage Gap


Australia’s history of arbitration and industrial relations has evolved since the days of the Master Servant relationship between employer and employee of the mid 1800’s This paper will discuss the opposing perspectives of each and question if Industrial Relations be seen as a manipulative form of management control with arbitration as the governance layer of social change. It will look at the level of political intervention of these systems evident between employers, employees and third parties such as unions, and state governments.

Since 1907, an arbitration system that sets minimum wages was favoured by the social democrats with the result being the Arbitration Courts and Wage Boards of the 1890’s. The early courts were used to settle industrial disputes with binding agreements, whereas the Wage Boards brought together representative groups of employers and employees under an independent Chair. The idea was to agree minimum wages and conditions for workers that employers could implement. The early Wage Boards had no power to intervene in strike action which was the dominate form of industrial action in early Australia. After the 1890’s there was an increased desire for a faster conflict resolution remedy than the traditional ‘strike’ and ‘lock out’ mentality. Both Arbitration and Industrial Relations were designed to ‘de-politicise’ employment relations, but there were lingering concerns that politicians would continue to interfere with the democratic politics of these systems. (MacIntyre 1985) .

Around this time (1907), the President of the Arbitration Court, Henry Borne Higgins devised the “living wage’ that was based on what he determined to be the minimum amount required for a man with a wife and 3 children to live ‘frugally’. Mr Justice Higgins based his calculations on his expectation that all adults would marry, and that men were always the primary wage earners. Women supporting families through desertion or their husband’s death were only paid the equivalent of a single females wage instead of that equivalent to the “living wage”, and this caused extreme hardship for many families with a female breadwinner. Single females wage already half that of a single man’s in most cases although there were, some exceptions for women employed in agricultural roles. This inequality would be the start of unequal pay between men and women in Australia that continues today with women’s earnings less than men’s for the same work, often leaving many women in poverty. “The patriarchal phraseology reveals the underlying fear: the market threatened not just the sanctity of the home but the earning capacity and authority of its male head” (MacIntyre 1985: pg58).

DOWNLOAD THE WHITEPAPER HERE

 

Susanne Moore Speaker at the 2012 Australian Sourcing Summit, Sydney


I will be speaking at the Sourcing Summit in Sydney on 15 and 16 August 2012.  If you are interested in recruitment, sourcing or diversity, then this is the event for you!

HERE IS AN OVERVIEW OF THE EVENT FROM THE 2012 Australian SOURCING SUMMIT WEBSITE (www.sosu.com.au)

“Bringing together sourcing innovators from Australia, New Zealand and USA, the 2012 Sourcing Summit will highlight the important role of sourcing in the region. The Summit will provide attendees with the opportunity to learn from thought leaders, practitioners and organisations who are deeply involved in the local industry and are at the forefront of sourcing excellence.

A wide range of sourcing issues and the latest trends will be addressed by a panel of speakers representing in-house sourcing teams, RPOs, agencies, executive search firms, and companies ranging in size from single entrepreneurs to some of the biggest employer brands in Australia. Whether you are a sourcer, researcher, recruiter or HR professional, there is something for everyone at the summit.”

I will be moderating the final session on the second day.  This is a panel discussion on Diversity Sourcing.  Some information on the session is below.

DIVERSITY SOURCING – A NEW PARADIGM FOR SOURCERS

4:15-5:00 PM, PANEL DISCUSSION: FIONA KRAUTIL, DIVERSITY KNOWHOW, JUDE-MARTIN, DIVERISTY-IS.COM, VICHEL GOEL, MICROSOFT, SUZANNE MOORE, SUZANNEMOORE.COM
Diversity matters, more so in an increasingly connected world without borders. But how can organisations stay true to corporate policies and still deliver results? What are the pros and cons? What is an effective pathway to diversity nirvana?

Three things to learn:
– Why diversity sourcing strategies matters
Policy and process roadmaps for diversity sourcing
– Customising sourcing functions based on diversity principles

The summit will also be in Brisbane on the 21 August 2012.

DOWNLOAD A COPY OF THE PRESENTATION HERE

Is the ‘mummy culture’ undermining feminism?


I don’t know if I am the only one that has noticed, but there seems to be a distinct rise in what I would call “the mummy culture’ amongst young mothers, at least in Australia.  They look fantastic, exercise regularly, cook up a storm,  have a man’s man for a partner, they can be stay at home mums or career women.  What ever way they all seem to have some things in common.

They follow each other in packs on Facebook and twitter posting and tweeting numerous photographs of their little ‘bundles of joy’ for all to see.  Their world seems to revolve completely around raising their children but, I think, in a slightly different way to they way women of older generations raised their children.  Here are a couple of characteristics that I have noticed;

  • They are the of the ‘new traditionalist‘ model, think “Bree’ from “Desperate Housewives‘;
  • They spend time perfecting female gender stereotypes.  They like cooking, cleaning, looking after the family and basically being the ‘perfect mumma’.

I am interested in doing some research on this to see if it really is a new phenomenon, so please take part in this poll to voice your opinion.  Are these ‘mummas’ undermining the work of feminists or are they just capitialising on the ‘choice’ that feminism has given them?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to the poll.