Gender Equity

Three signs your progressive organisation might not be as progressive as you think it is

Thoughts on #pinkwash.png

"Bah." "Humbug." "Pink wash!"

No-one sets out to be the squeaky wheel. I certainly don't want to be tarred with the angry woman brush, as prejudice and bias abound against women who are perceived as angry. As a society we dismiss female anger as if it's a sign of being out of control, over emotional or irrational (witchy, whiny or wild).  Whereas, research shows us that angry men are more likely to be perceived as powerful, authoritative and highly credible.  Another double standard to be sure.

But every now and then a woman's got to call a spade a spade.  And today I call "pink wash" to highlight a really common issue.

A few weeks ago I attended a dinner held by a self-proclaimed progressive business organisation. I was under the impression that I had been invited because the organisation had identified that they had a gender diversity problem in the membership and at their events and I was 1. helping make up numbers of women and 2. would be asked for my recommendations at some stage down the track.

Indeed, the organisation does have a gender diversity problem. At the dinner, at a rough guess, there were 250+ men in the room and about 40 women, even with quite a few women like me invited to make up numbers. The pre-dinner foyer area was a veritable sea of grey with male business leaders and politicians.

It was when we entered the dining room that the issue really began to unfold and made me wonder if the self-proclaimed progressive organisation might not be as progressive as they imagined.

Sign #1 - I was seated at a table of all women. Yes, that's right. Despite the hugely obvious gender imbalance in the room, I was seated at the girly table - just like the kids table at Xmas dinner!  In fact, we were all women who had been invited to make up numbers. And yet there we were making up numbers in a corner of our own.  I had imagined I'd be spending the evening having meaty discussions with business and government leaders of both genders. After all, what could be more progressive? However, that was not to be.  Thanks to the conversation at the table, a good time was had by all, but at what cost?

Sign #2 - I turned to comment to my accompanying guest, and she was even more frustrated than me. She exclaimed that it had been the same the previous year, so she (and several of the other women at the table) had given their feedback and recommendations about the perceived archaic segregation of the sexes, and yet their advice had obviously not been listened to. Another missed opportunity.

Sign #3 - Finally, I commented to one of the representatives of the hosting organisation that perhaps integrating the invited women onto other tables might have been a good idea.  She replied that seating us separately had been a deliberate initiative because they wanted to start a separate women's network and were using us as a test case.  Finally, the information I needed to understand. They had an another agenda entirely, possibly a financial one, and this had become a misguided attempt at creating gender equity, but totally missed the inclusion piece of the equation.

And this gets my goat.  

I see many examples of companies spruiking gender equity when in fact they are either chasing the pink dollar or merely doing window dressing:

  • Manufacturers who charge more for products for women than men - in 2016 this sexist surcharge was measured at a whopping 37%.

  • Commercial conference producers who run Women in Leadership Conferences, charge top dollar for attendees, but who don't pay (or offer peanuts) for female speakers.

  • Conference producers and associations who pull their entire conference program together with a token female MC or only one or two female speakers.

  • Banks who announce gender equity targets such as 50:50 by 2030, who run advertising campaigns to highlight gender inequality etc, yet minimal (if any) budget is allocated to actually achieving said targets.  Insider anecdotal evidence from staff suggests that they are far more heavily invested in winning female customers than meeting their internal gender equity targets.

  • Peak bodies, think tanks or firms who publish ground-breaking research and white papers on the benefits of gender equity, and hold themselves out to be leading the way, yet their own structures and cultures demonstrate the very antithesis of diversity and inclusion.

And the list goes on.

The women I speak to and work with are discerning. They've been around long enough to know the difference between actually doing something about gender equity and window dressing, with a side of pink opportunism.

My challenge to men and women everywhere is to call "pinkwash" when you see it -  

  • where organisations who are unintentionally getting it wrong, or

  • those who simply aren't listening, or perhaps

  • those who have an agenda of their own that is counter productive.

The double standards you walk past are the double standards you accept

And to the progressive organisation who invited me to dinner? You've got a branding problem.  Progressive is as progressive does.  In this instance, the term progressive was a noun and not a descriptor.  Whereas a truly progressive company wouldn't need to call themselves progressive, because it would have been obvious throughout the entire evening.
   
YOUR THOUGHTS?   When was the last time you called "pinkwash"?  And what was it for?   Drop me a note and let me know.

#womenofimpact #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #pinkwash

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

We are all responsible for gender equality

Life gets better by change Jim Rohn.jpg

What’s the benefit of doing an International Women’s Day 2019 breakfast? Plenty, if recent statistics about gender equality in Australia are any indication of how far we have yet to go.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2018, while Australian women may have achieved parity with men for educational attainment, ranking equal first with a number of other nations, it is not translating to the workplace where we are ranked -

  • 46th in the world for Economic Participation and Opportunity, and worse,

  • 49th for Political Empowerment.


This inequality was brought to light when I recently hosted a table at the #balanceforbetter Rotary Breakfast for International Womens Day 2019 at Crown. The panel was comprised of:

  • Catherine Fox - Journalist, author and presenter

  • Kristen Hilton, Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner

  • Josh Bornstein, Director, Maurice Blackburn

  • Fiona Patten, Founder and leader of the Reason Party and politician

  • Rob Hulls, Director, Centre for Innovative Justice

  • Dr Emma Burrows, Research Fellow

Our table had a wonderful discussion on this topic.

As it turns out, “at the current rate of change true gender equality is predicted to still be 117 years away!”

And yet, there should be no reason for the gender gap to remain. According to the Victorian government website:

  • Australia’s GDP would increase by 11% if the gender employment gap was closed.

  • The Australian economy would gain $8 BILLION if women transitioned from tertiary education into the workforce at the same rate as men.

  • Businesses with at least 30% women in leadership positions are 15% more profitable.


Additionally, “it prevents violence against women and girls. Gender equality makes for a more cohesive society. Countries with greater gender equality are more connected. Their people are healthier and have better wellbeing.”


And as Hilary Clinton said back in 1995, when she was the First Lady, when she delivered a speech at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing

Women’s rights are human rights


So how do we continue the work of closing the gender gap?

In the workplace, “it’s not enough to add a 'diversity and inclusion' policy to your organisation and expect that will be enough to fix problems with representation and culture. That change needs to be supported by those at the top.”

We heard from our expert panel about strategies to reduce the gender gap. For example -

  • In the legal profession, this includes hitting the hip pocket for organisations who don’t meet gender equity targets.

  • In schools, males also need to be included and involved. One speaker reflected that she is invited to speak at a lot of girls schools, but no boys schools. Given that gender balance benefits women and men alike, it’s so important for men to understand as early as possible that imbalance affects them too.

  • It’s not a zero sum game.” Contrary to Scott Morisson’s recent comments, “it’s not at the expense of men and we need to ensure we articulate this better as it will only be through demonstrating to men and boys and involving them early that we can speed this up.”

  • Mothers, aunts” as well as other female roles in the family, “are well placed to influence this and demonstrate gender equality... (to) ensure a better and more cohesive society.”


And these are why events like this breakfast are so important - to inform us, and unite us, to make the change we seek, like the experience of those who attended:

“I get so re-energised and refocused by these things.”

“This spurs me to challenge myself and others to step up more to create change.”

I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot. Together we can do great things.
— Mother Theresa

A big thank you to the my guests who attended and contributed to the sentiment and comments in this article: Therese Chakour-West, Nicola Wilson, Gillian Laging, Diane Barbis, Christine Elmer, Caroline Clarke, Kate Westacott, Kerry-Ann Benton, Sue Neal

YOUR THOUGHTS? What else can we do to bring about gender equality? How can you achieve gender equality in the workforce? Drop me a line at ablesing@amandablesing.com 

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

The day my first book was published

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Two years ago, in March, my first book was published!

I remember how excited I was and overwhelmed with how close it was to International Women's Day #IWD

Since then I've sold almost 1000 copies and still love getting notes from readers telling me how much they enjoyed it.

"Hey Amanda, I couldn't wait to tell you how great your book it is! I couldn't put it down all weekend and I want to buy a copy for all my girlfriends" said one happy reader 😎

With #IWD2019 just past, why not buy a copy to inspire a smart ’n savvy career minded woman in your life?

Step Up, Speak Out, Take Charge - A woman's guide to getting ahead in your career

Available to purchase from Amazon, Koby, Booktopia, Dymocks and even Walmart!

And keep your eye out for book #2 - From Invisible to Invincible - a self promotion handbook for executive women

Available from May 2019 ☺️

#LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #womenofimpact #invisibletoinvincible

My mission is to help women play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Let's show them what crazy can do

Here's to all the "dramatic", "delusional", "nuts", "unhinged", "weird", "hysterical", "crazy" women in my network

Because you're kicking phenomenal goals, breaking glass ceilings, tackling issues and driving change like never before.

It's only crazy until you do it. Fine. Let's show them what crazy can do.

Inspiring video released in the lead up to #iwd2019

Superbly narrated by Serena Williams.

Thanks to Nike - just do it

Thanks also to both Carla Wall and Tessa Irwin MFIA for sending this my way.

Let's show them what crazy can do.

#womenofimpact #leadingwomen #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes

 
Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Do women criticise each other more?

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Do women criticise each other?

I've hesitated to publish this blog because I don't want to contribute to the myths, misinformation and misogyny that already exists for women with leadership aspirations.

  • "She's a nag" - nope, she's the Chief Risk Officer

  • "She's a gold digger" - well she works in a gold mine, so yes, but not for the reasons you're inferring

  • "She's a ball-breaker " - yet there is no equivalent term for a tough guy 

Rightly or wrongly, women also have a reputation for criticising or penalising other women - being catty, bitchy, or overtly negative towards their female peers or subordinates. 

But is this true?  Is this perception encouraged simply as an exclusionary tactic, a diversionary blame game, or a way of keeping (other) women in their place?

So I've decided to air the topic, rather than hide from it - to help you make up our own mind about how to react, behave or respond when you hear that women criticise other women, you find yourself in a situation where you are critiquing others for things other than objective performance measures  or perhaps when you are feeling threatened by a more ambitious junior staffer who appears to be challenging you.

Queen Bee Syndrome
Historically, and unfortunately still far too commonly, the traits valued in the rarified air of the C-suite were assertiveness, combativeness and competitiveness. The women who get to the top are rewarded for those more masculine traits.

There was even a name given to the more extreme elements, the Queen Bee Syndrome,whereby some women made their way to the top, then deliberately held other women back.

The phrase was repurposed by a Dutch psychologist, Naomi Ellemers, who examined the lack of senior level women in academia. She had assumed that it was men keeping women out of senior roles.  What she discovered was the few women in senior roles were equally, if not more, exclusionary.  Scarcity of opportunities drove even more competitive and assertive behaviours.

The phrase took, and has possibly become an overused label when dealing with resistance towards our career from women in power. 

I suspect too that we've all had a female boss at some time in our career who we remember as being tough as nails, harder on women than men, and certainly not one to be "throwing back the net" let alone "throwing down the ladder" for other talented women in the organisation.

But was her behaviour more memorable because -

  • She was a female boss and still relatively unique? 

  • Had she become more tough on other women because she didn't want to be seen as favouring other women?

  • She was simply unaware of the impact her behaviours and tactics had on her female staff because no-one had called her out on it?

  • Another option might be that our memorable female boss who didn't favour other women in upper echelons of her work environment, was in survival mode, in a highly competitive, combative and assertive world where everyone was waiting for her to fail?

  • Or a combination of all four?


Add into the mix the stereotype for women to be inclusive, collaborative and supportive - so we hold our female boss to a higher standard than we might do her male peers - and you have a recipe for pejorative name calling even if there are elements of truth in it.  The stereotype effectis a strong driver.

As Madeleine Albright famously said
"There is a special place in hell for women who don't help other women."

We get it. I'm not excusing bullying tactics by any means. But sometimes people are caught in a cycle of stereotypes, expectations, limiting beliefs and fear that keeps them stuck behaving in ways that are distinctly unhelpful to not only other women, but themselves as well.

Studies have indicated that when professional women believe there’s only room at the top for a few, they will bully and undermine their female colleagues and employees. 

Additionally, according to a 2016 study in The Academy of Management Journal, senior-level women who champion younger women are more likely to get negative performance reviews.

Definitely a case of damned when you do, and another damned when you don't.

No-one said it would be easy to get to the top, and once again, no-one was right.

Socialisation 
The socialisation of women and girls is also frequently focused on outward appearance.  I grew up being indoctrinated by Dolly magazine, didn't you? And it's worse for young girls today. This can lead to comparing, judging, and critiquing, often from a perspective of not measuring up.  The dark-side of this is that in tearing others down, we feel we build ourselves up in some way. Yet the reverse is more likely to be true.

The end result is that women who become more visible, find themselves more vulnerable, not just from attacks by men, but also other women. 

Critiquing starts small 
Recently, I participated on a magical, mystery, bus tour with around 20 other entrepreneurs. It was a heap of fun on a hot summers day and we were all being deliberately pushed way out of our comfort zone with new people and new experiences.  

Most of my fellow passengers were smart, entrepreneurial women, possibly even a more competitive by the very nature of their work.  

On this tour I experience that "aha" moment.  It was the end of a long, adventurous day and I heard from the seat behind me, two of the women beginning to critique other women on the sidewalk for their appearance.  

And let me reiterate, we were all tired so less aware or mindful of our behaviours.

I blew a mental gasket, then called out the behaviour.

Eleanor Roosevelt may have said “You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realised how seldom they do.”  But perhaps she hadn’t hung out in a bus with a group of other women trying to stand out or compete with each other!!

Unfortunately this criticising others appearance is not unusual and no-one sees it as a problem. For women in public life, the constant critiquing of their appearance, mannerisms and other personal attributes is a way of life, and this is from supporters, not necessarily Trolls. 

It’s a socially acceptable habit we all indulge in. A hobby.  And I wonder what it will take for us to stop.


Why is this a problem? 

  • It’s a temporary distraction -  if women are busy criticising each other for seemingly trivial things, we aren’t focused on where the action is really at

  • It might temporarily make you feel good about yourself - but long term, it damages your own confidence as you wonder if others will be critiquing you when you take a stand or stand out for any reason.

  • It causes unnecessary friction and slows things down - if you're serious about your career and taking it to the next level, or you have an agenda you'd like to drive in your organisation, but you're then sidetracked by worries about what other people will think of you, you'll definitely take longer to launch.

  • It can trigger shame - women on the end of unnecessary criticism of a personal nature often feel embarrassment, guilt or shame

Guilt is just as powerful, but its influence is positive, while shame’s is destructive. Shame erodes our courage and fuels disengagement.Brene Brown
— Brene Brown

It takes courage to remain ambitious and even more courage to lead.

When we criticise others or hold others back, we are damaging ourselves and ultimately undermining our own efforts to stand out from the crowd and be noticed.

Let’s stop with the criticising and competitiveness with other women already, and simply get on with the business of creating work environments that support and champion the endeavours, perspectives and unique talents of both men and women as well.

YOUR THOUGHTS?  Fact or fiction? How do you deal with feelings of scarcity and high competition on your way to the top job?  Have you found women to be more or less supportive the higher up the food chain you go?  And what strategies to you have that help you cope?
Drop me a note ablesing@amandablesing.com 

My mission is to help women to play a much bigger game – change the world if you will – and do so with big ideas, big vision and big, audacious bucket loads of confidence.

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Self Promotion Sucks – but it doesn’t have to

Self Promotion Sucks.jpg

Self promotion sucks – especially for executive women

We’ve been socialised

No one becomes an industry leader overnight. Start with one self-promotion strategy at a time. You’ll be surprised at how things blossom from the smallest effort in the right direction.
— Michaela Chung
  • not to big note ourselves, yet owning and sharing your expertise is a key to a successful career

  • that if we do stand out, it’s should be for looking good, gracious or glamorous and never raise a sweat, yet the key to kicking BHAGs is to put yourself out there.

The social penalty for women who self promote and get it wrong, can be debilitating.

We’re all attuned to it because we’ve been hearing criticisms and advice about standing out or fitting in for most of our lives.

I run my own business

I have to self promote daily in order to stay successful.

I struggle as much as the next person, especially when I’m tired or feeling vulnerable.

And the biggest lesson I’ve learned in this journey?

Take the self out of self promotion

Instead focus on your why, a sense of purpose or a cause.

Not only will you find it far easier, but you won’t be criticised as much either.

And for the thousands who put themselves out there every day in the face of possible criticism or rejection?

I respect you.

We’re setting the scene for generations who come after to tackle things differently.

#selfpromotionmatters #leadership #executivebranding

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

Is it possible to lead and be “nice” at the same time? More on Nice Girl leadership

Is it possible to lead and be “nice” at the same time?

Dr. Lois Frankel wrote a book on this topic back in the early 2000's, but did we all get the wrong end of the stick by simply focusing on the book title? "Nice Girls Can't Get the Corner Office"

Reflections on “nice girl” leadership for those struggling to carve to a leadership brand that’s congruent and authentic - not just brash, bolshy and competitive because you’ve been told you need to be that way. 

After all organisations don't need more of the same style. Diversity works because of diversity - of thought, ideas, styles and perspectives.

No more "big hair, big shoulder pads, go hard or go home".  

Have the confidence to lead leading authentically.

#LeadLikeaLeadingWoman

#WomenOfImpact

#LeadingWomen

#NiceGirlLeadership

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #leadership  #executivewomen #careerfutureproofing

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

What can you do in just 2 minutes that will help you be more successful?

Tiny Two Minute Tools .jpg

Time to work far smarter?

You bet. 

You've heard of

  • 20 Min Tabata Protocols - designed to help Japanese Olympic speed skaters increase their fitness in very short period of time

  • 7 Min Workout - as popularised by the New York Times. Same principle as above. Intensity, short duration and frequency = more likely to do it.

  • 4 Hour Work Week, Body & Chef - thanks Tim Ferriss for helping us focus on the Minimum Effective Dose - not too little, not too much, but just right.

  • Pomodoro Technique - focus for shorter periods of time, so you can stay focused for longer. An oxymoron if I ever heard one! But it works. 


And now I give you Bo Forbes (neuroscientist, psychologist and yoga teacher) and her Tiny, Two Minute Tools - two minute specific activities you can (and are more likely to) do, more frequently (because they're super easy) to shift the dial on your health and wellbeing. 

Her research initially proved that a daily 20 minute yoga practice delivered far more benefit than 90 minute classes twice per week.

It went on to demonstrate that, despite their diminutive title, Tiny, Two Minute Tools punch above their weight on both health, hormones and happiness. 

But Amanda!  You don't write a fitness blog. Why are you sharing this?

Because the way that you do anything is the way you do everything.

Because the plan that you do, is better than the perfect plan that sits in the cupboard and never sees the light of day.

Because I feel for every executive woman who is trying to have it allbe it all, and create a career that really counts but who gets to the end of the year and is exhausted and wonders if it's worthwhile.

Because we all do it!  We work hard at something until we don't (or can't) because it's no longer working. 

Because I was disappointed to read this startling statistic from former Australian Prime Minister The Hon. Julia Gillard in a speech she gave at University of Adelaide in September 2018.

"The number of women in senior management globally has risen just 1% point in 10 years” 


Just 1%. 

We've been working hard at gender equity for years. It's time for both men and women to work far smarter. 

As Albert Einstein is widely quoted as saying 
“Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.

Because the Tiny, Two Minute Tool is a metaphor for paradigm shift, and instead of trying to fix all companies everywhere so we get overwhelmed and don't bother, let's start in our own backyard with things that don't seem threatening and are easy to put in place and do more frequently.

Let's find an equivalent of the Tiny, Two Minute Tool and implement it in our own careers in 2019.

Perhaps 2019 is the year of being far smarter about how we tackle gender equity and feminine empowerment collectively and our own careers individually. 

So what will you do differently moving forward?

Drop me an email if you have a big idea, that might benefit from baby steps. I'd love to hear.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolutionrocks #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition 

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months

What does Peppa the Pig have to do with a Legal Awards ceremony?

Gabrielle_Guthrie_Amanda_Blesing Women_in_Law_Awards.jpg

Heaps if you are one of the #winning #women doing the #juggle as they deliver excellence in Australian legal services! 

Celebrating and recognising excellence and achievement from women in any industry is a powerful driver towards gender equity.

Absolutely chuffed to support @Gabrielle Guthrie as she was named #Finalist in the Sole Practitioner Category at the Women In Law Awards hosted by Lawyers Weekly at the Sofitel last night. So proud of her results and achievements in just two years of establishing her own practice providing accessible, specialist environment and planning law advice. Phenomenal woman. Phenomenal lawyer. Phenomenal result

The 21 acceptance speeches represented all the richness, value and #diversity that working women provide to society with many reflecting that despite the juggle they were still able to deliver substantive change or results for clients. 

One of the winners shared a vulnerable moment that her Award nomination video accidentally included the Peppa the Pig soundtrack as she juggled childcare duties, work responsibilities and a looming Award nomination deadline. Despite this (or maybe because of this!!!), she won her category (you can’t keep amazing talent down) but it was a great story that highlights the juggle that many women deal with to stay ahead of the curve. The audience loved it.

Kudos to all the 180 finalists in the room and to the 20 women who were named as #winners. 

Keep inspiring others.

Special shout out to the other finalists at my table including Lesley Symons and Harmers Workplace Lawyers

#winningwomen #womenofimpact #leadingwomeninspirechange

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months