gender diversity

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 

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The Importance of a Career Strategy for Executive Women

“She believed she could, so she set a goal, then made a plan and worked the plan til she did.”
— A J Blesing

Do you remember Susan Colantuono's TED talk The Missing 33%?  In summary she says that "The Missing 33% of the career success equation for women is not because women don't or can't have business, strategic and financial acumen, but because very few women are clearly told how essential these skills are for reaching the top."

Great advice. Finally. A solution that works. 

And doesn't it feel good to be able to pinpoint the problem of lack of women in leadership to one particular issue?


Of course not. It’s an idea, not a silver bullet.

I don't need to tell you that the issue is much more challenging than merely understanding balance sheets - after all there are many superbly financially savvy female executives out there who still struggle.

Case in point my recent gobsmacking conversation with a well known male Financial Columnist who told me that women weren't good with money and didn't care about money and that he only knew two financially savvy female leaders (paraphrased - and perhaps he had watched Susan's TED talk but got the wrong end of the stick).  

Other issues in this complex area include:

  • exclusion tactics by those already in positions of leadership leaving some women believing it’s not only not possible, but not something they really want anyway

  • fewer opportunities at the top for both men and women (ergo higher competition)

  • lack of female role models in CEO roles (just 7% female CEO's in S&P/ASX200 in 2018) and 

  • the subsequent high levels of scrutiny and potential for backlash for executive women, sometimes culminating in a fall over the Glass Cliff which deters many others from following in her footsteps. Another case in point - the recent débâcle at the ABC. 

ANOTHER Idea - another MISSING 33% 

I've discovered a startling fact.

Most women don't have a clear career strategy. In fact, they've probably never even heard of the need for one.

According to recent research from the Women CEOs Speak Study (Korn Ferry and The Rockefeller Foundation, published August, 2018), "65% of the female CEOs surveyed said they only realised they could become a CEO after someone told them so. With few .... female CEOs to model after, only 12% of women CEOs said they had aspired to a CEO role for “a long time.”

In a nutshell, many executive women, including those already leading, don't aspire to become the boss - they don't aim for the top job, they don't believe it's a real option for them and they don't plan for the possibility of getting there. 

Someone else told them it was possible.

And I'm not surprised.

After talking with literally hundreds of women about their career plans here's what I notice in the narrative that surrounds women and their career - 

  • "I was lucky"

  • "Someone tapped me on the shoulder"

  • "I didn't know it was possible until my boss suggested I apply, and even then I didn't feel ready"

  • "I was in the right place at the right time" 

  • "My career just unfolded"

I recently facilitated a discussion with a room full of female CEOs and Managing Directors in Sydney where all but one said they had no plan to lead or clearly defined career strategy, and that the opportunities just presented themselves or unfolded. Three of them said they were simply lucky.

Passive language. No agency.  

Don't forget that luck is really what happens when planning meets opportunity - and not passive at all.

Let's not just blame women for yet another issue that they get wrong. Executive women have enough to feel guilty about without adding lack of career strategy to the burden.

  • We teach women about work - and how to do that well, rigorously, thoroughly and appropriately

  • We teach women about the importance having an identity outside of work

  • We're forever reinforcing the need for women to have work life balance and the ubiquitous Women in Leadership Conference panel on said topic is testament to that.

  • But what we don't teach young women and girls is about the importance of having a career strategy.  

    Is it that we educate boys differently? Yes, but not that much. However, the informal education of young men and boys, along with the role modelling from so many more male leaders definitely  includes the possibility that the top job might be for them should they want it and plan for it.

The socialisation of women and girls leaves a lot to be desired.   After all, many still believe it’s better to have effortlessly been discovered than to be perceived as having strived, pushed and manoeuvred to get to the top.

Organisations need help defining and following the necessary steps to maintain a proven pipeline of female leadership candidates .....….and women need help identifying the right career approaches to prepare for CEO roles.
— Jane Stephenson, Korn Ferry

However educators, coaches, mentors, sponsors, L&D professionals, talent acquisition and retention specialists all need to keep this in mind and ensure career strategy is part of talent development from the get go.  

Ensure that the talent you recruit or champion knows where they are aiming for and of the importance of having a clear plan for how they might get there.  

After all, if they don't know where they are going, how will they know when they get there?


Senior level executive women need to ask for support in planning a possible tilt for the top from the moment they're appointed.  It's not over bold, it's simply a strategic play.  Wouldn't you prefer to find out sooner rather than later what the future might hold?

One super talented younger ambitious woman I mentor negotiated her tilt for her new bosses role, prior to her commencement date, with great success. It further enabled her boss to plan his exit strategy and groom her for taking over from the start.

If your career isn't working out for you right now, do something about it. Life's too short to stick in a role going nowhere, with a boss who keeps you playing small, in an organisation that you've out grown.   

You run the risk of becoming a smaller version of yourself and that helps no-one.

So take the time to get back in touch with what's important, where you were heading before you became a square peg in a round hole, and put a plan in action. 

Never forget, don't let perfect be the enemy of the good.

After all, a mediocre plan that you executive is far better than a perfect plan in limbo. And any strategy, even the wrong one, is frequently better than no strategy.

I'd love to know your thoughts - why not have your say?

  • It will only take two minutes and may be just the thing that helps us understand this issue further.

  • Do you attribute your success in your career to luck or planning? 

  • How has your approach worked for you?   

  • Click on the link for this survey to have your say. 

Want help with your career strategy and executive brand?
Why not book in a 30 min one on one  phone call to learn more. 1st in best dressed rules apply.

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Leadership lessons from a hip hop dance competition? You betcha'!

Leadership lessons for #leadingwomen from a hip hop dance competition? You betcha’!

Don’t imitate the men. 

Toni Basil, best known for her multi-million-selling worldwide 1982 hit "Mickey", which reached No 1 in several countries, reminds female hip hop artists to not forget their femininity. 

  • It doesn’t take away your strength
  • You can be as strong as you want
  • I’m talking about women accepting the femininity within them and adding it to their “dance”

Love this as a lesson in leadership for women! 

Gone are the old days of “big hair, big shoulder pads, go hard or go home”.  

And to women reading this - let’s lead like a leading woman not like a man. 

“I haven’t found myself constrained by the male models of leadership because I haven’t found them particularly inspiring, so why copy something you didn’t like?” ~ Ann Sherry AO, Carnival Australia

And Toni Basil?  At 75yo you truly inspire and not just because of your amazing dance moves. For the groovers reading this post? Check out the video - this will make your day.

#business #branding #leadership

(Video - Youtube HHI's "Real Talk”)


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When sexist comments make your blood boil ..... go postal!

Power of outrages for executive women.jpg
When did it become a zero sum game of being good at managing money or good at relationships? I’m pretty good at walking and chewing gum at the same time.

A funny thing happened on the way to Brisbane the other day.  I was sitting on the plane, when a man sat down next to me.  We exchanged details (him: financial columnist, me: executive coach for executive women).  The ensuing conversation (documented below), ended with me feeling frustrated, flabbergasted ..... and angry.

Oh no.  I'm "that angry woman"

The Angry Woman Stereotype

The stereotype of an angry woman is  ...... emotional, out of control, less logical and less credible. We all saw the way that Hillary Clinton was portrayed when she displayed anger.  It's a tough gig to remain credible as a woman when you are known for being angry.

What the Research Says

Researchers from Arizona State University and the University of Illinois at Chicago looked at the differences in the way we perceive angry men or women and highlighted the double standard.

They found that "women's anger worked against them, while men's anger served as a "powerful" tool of persuasion. When the holdout was a male who expressed anger, participants significantly doubted their own opinion, even when they were in the majority. But if the holdout was a woman who expressed anger, she actually had less influence over participants -so much so that it was the only scenario in the study in which participants became more confident in their own opinion that opposed that of the woman."

The alternatives for women are pretty limited - grace and poise under pressure still come to mind.

Then that's it. Nada.

Going Postal

So what recourse did I have? How could I do something, express my outrage yet stay credible? 

So I created a (semi) viral LinkedIn Post. I call it "going postal". 

  • Going Postal - normally refers to out of control anger. Definitely a career limiting move (CLM) for leading women and men.

  • "going postal" (note lower case and yes this is my new definition) - creating a LinkedIn viral Post to drive awareness and change.

Jane Anderson, Influencer and blogging expert, in a recent blog talks about staying above the line.  

  • Below the line = criticising, negative, using fear.

  • Above the line =. drawing attention and proposing a positive solution
    So my definition of "going postal" also includes an element of positivity.

So what got my dander up? 

Read the blog below - then head over to LinkedIn and tag a financially savvy woman somewhere! 

The above the line action? After a week, I'll be emailing my flight buddy with a list of fabulously financially savvy women for him to refer to in his next column! 

Let's kick this stereotype to the curb (yet again).

Read on .... and be prepared to be flabbergasted  ...

I was shocked  by a sexist comment yesterday on a flight. “#Women simply can’t manage money as well as men”, he said. 

This wasn't just any sexist guy, it was  #Financial columnist for a well known publication 

“Women don’t care about money - they care more about people“ he went onto say.

WTF??? 🤯 

A total insult to most of the women in my circle of friends and colleagues if not all women everywhere! 

You’d think I was back in the 1950's   

I can't even excuse his age because my grandma (even older than he) was AWESOME at #financialmanagement. 

I nearly had an apoplexy! 

Bias and stereotypes are rampant in our business world. And with so few women visibly leading the financial space, it’s no wonder. 

It’s far easer to accept the old narrative and stereotyped norms as a version of the truth. Hang out with enough people who think the same as you, and you’ll end up with a bad case of confirmation bias to boot! 

Three financially savvy women I admire -

  • Sally Krawcheck, Ellevest

  • Christine Lagarde, IMF - and closer to home

  • Gail Kelly, 1st female CEO of a major Australian bank

 >> COMMENT - Which women do you know who are AWESOME at finances and who care about #finance and #people?  TAG a financially savvy woman somewhere.

Let’s kick this stereotype to the curb (yet again).    

R.E.S.P.E.C.T. (vale Aretha)  

HAVE YOUR SAY - Don't forget to tag in the comments on LinkedIn (or send me the names) of fabulously financially savvy women. I'll be sending my new friend a list.

#feminineambitionrocks #womenofimpact #linkedInlove

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Sexist attitudes still exist in 2018 - 10 worst explanations

I’m utterly gob-smacked that these attitudes exist in 2018

“We have one woman already on the board, so we are done — it is someone else’s turn”

“All the ‘good’ women have already been snapped up”

“Most women don’t want the hassle or pressure of sitting on a board”

They were part of a list of the 10 worst explanations given to a team questioning chairs & CEOs of the 350 biggest publicly listed companies in Britain over low numbers of women serving on British boards, according to a NYT article on 31 May

“As you read this list of excuses, you might think it’s 1918 not 2018. It reads like a script from comedy parody but it’s true” ~ Amanda Mackenzie, CEO, Business in the Community

If you’re in Oz thinking that we’re different, think again, with high profile male chairs recently expressing similar sentiments

“You hear some of the blokes complaining – but we are in the midst of a social revolution; now they have to compete against 100% of the population, not 50% ~ Ilana Atlas, Coca-Cola Amatil Chair

Comments do not reflect research on the issue. Increasing numbers of investors are pushing for greater gender diversity on the boards. Watch this space.….

Read further: 


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How men can help women flourish in the workplace

Organisations that don’t have women on the leadership team are plain and simply leaving money on the table and yet many women still struggle to make it through the talent pipeline to the top. Male managers can help but many don't know what to do differently while avoiding criticism from others and having their own career penalised.

As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others
— Bill Gates

If men are interested in helping female talent to flourish more effectively, there are some easy practices to champion and adopt that will help.  Here are six ideas to keep handy, that truly make a difference.

1. Ensure that women get a voice at the table, instead of being spoken over, dismissed or bypassed.    In a 2014 study from George Washington University we learned that when men were talking with women, they interrupted 33% more often than when they were talking with men. So instead of being part of the problem, establish systems that break the cycle. Why not deploy a fair airtime to share in meetings policy so everyone has a voice? And if a woman does speak up, but her idea is dismissed or brushed over, systematically draw attention back to the idea with a "Great idea Gloria, could you explain more?"  Note to female readers: you can do this for each other too (Julie Bishop style).

2. Don't be afraid of mentoring women. Did you know that women are 54% less likely to have a sponsor and 24% less likely to get advice from senior leaders?  The latest research from LeanIn and McKinsey sheds quite a bit of light on informal mentoring. 

According the WSJ article Don't Avoid Women, Mentor Them "Mentors show women the ropes and help us navigate office politics. They introduce us to decision-makers who help us get high-profile assignments. So much of what gets you noticed at work is who you know and who sings your praises." 

If you are worried about taking a female colleague to drinks or dinner, suggest a breakfast or coffee meeting instead. 

3. Include women in informal networking situations - one of the biggest issues I'm asked about by women in masculine dominated industries is "What should I do when all the guys do is want to go to the football, play golf, go cycling or to the bar after work?"  

Never assume that women don't want to do those things, or that all men want to do those things either. Make sure that there are a range of informal networkings situations where everyone is included.

One of my female clients who works in a male dominated industry sometimes finds out AFTER the fact that the guys all went to the football on Saturday and she didn't get an invite. She loves football and also knows they talk about work at those events. Make sure everyone gets the invite and knows they are truly welcome.

4. Never assume - there is an old saying that "assumption make an ass out of UME".  As per the above, never assume that someone wouldn't want to travel due to family reasons or responsibilities. Never assume that someone wouldn't want to commute.  Just because you wouldn't want something doesn't mean that others wouldn't want it. You never know what's going on in someone's life and they may just have a work around that's a better solution.  Ask or offer anyway.

5. Don't be afraid to question practices that do lead to exclusion - such as business travel. Australians have a love affair with business travel. We're addicted to it. But does it drive better performance? During the GFC many organisations in Australia put severe limitations on travel with great effect.  It's not just women who may have problems being away from home when they have child care or family responsibilities. Many men want to participate more in this as well.  While your frequent flyer balance might not look so good, your workplace and business results are likely to be better with more inclusive policies anyway.

6. Stand up for what's right - If a visiting speaker or consultant cracks a sexist joke - don't feel obliged to laugh and be sure to let them know the those sorts of comments are not appropriate in this workplace. 

In summary, the practices suggested above are good for all. Women are equally as socialised, biased and prone to stereotyped assumptions as men. I encourage female managers and leaders to implement some or all of these ideas as well.


There is no Mars and Venus, but in fact we are allies here on planet earth and our interests are the same.
— Michael Kimmel

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Have you drawn your line in the sand? Sexist comments perpetuating the cycle

“We’re going to pay [insert male name] more because he is a man and needs it more than you.”
“Let’s give the' little woman' something to do to keep her busy.”
“I prefer to employ women, because they’re cheaper.”

These are all comments I’ve had said to me over the years.

Shocking I know.

Some might argue that they were ‘of the times’

However the last was shared with me in 2017!

Were the people saying these things bad people?

Not necessarily.

Simply misguided & mistaken.

These comments are insidious.

They did damage then & they do damage now.

Plus are symptoms of a far bigger issue still at play.

Women & women’s work is still under-valued.

And when women move in & become more dominant in an industry, the salary drops.

Yet, the tide is turning.

With globalisation & technological innovation comes increased speed, competition & new problems to be solved with DIFFERENT thinking.

Social media is providing a platform, along with increased awareness & education.

Drawing a line in the sand.jpg

Iceland is leading the way too.

Condescension is part of the problem. 

Laughing at sexist jokes is no longer OK.

Employing women because they’re cheaper is exploitation.

And if you aren’t careful, that little woman will be too smart to want to work for you anyway.

My line is drawn in the sand. Right here, right now.

Where and when is yours?

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Why you need to put your blinkers on and stop comparing yourself to others

It’s not who you think you are that holds you back, it’s who you think you’re not.
— Teresa Ho

Recently I've been chatting with a range of people about comparing, judging and critiquing - particularly when we judge ourselves and find ourselves lacking in some way. 

In fact, it's the human condition. We all do it. But women are far more tough on themselves than men.

A recent UK study found that;

  • Women criticise themselves at least 8 times per day and that number is increasing,
  • 42% of women admitted to never complimenting themselves, 
  • 46% women said they criticise themselves at least once before 9:30am
  • The top five areas of criticism were weight, appearance, career, finances and relationships. (Weight Watchers UK 2016)


Studies also show that women under rate their own performance across many disciplines ranging from people management right through to more technical expertise. 

The problem for organisations wanting to promote women becomes more obvious when the same studies demonstrate that some men tend to overestimate theirs. (Geoff Trickey, UK, 2016)

So why does underestimating matter?

While self awareness is an admirable leadership trait, underestimation keeps you second guessing and missing out - and self flagellation with self awareness will simply get in the way of any progress.

Whether we are putting ourselves forward for a promotion, asking for a raise or pitching to win a big contract, it's far harder to back yourself and sell the value of you and your idea, if you are secretly doubting yourself.  

And while I don't want to diminish the role of bias and discrimination in keeping women out of leadership roles, being your own harshest critic is going to make it even harder for you to see your own potential objectively or accurately.

More stats

One statistic that sticks in my mind from a report entitled The Unstereoptyped Mindset is this -

  • 77% of men believe that a man is the best person to lead in a high stakes project
  • 55% of women believe the same.

And I'm fairly confident that the feminine tendency to compare herself, and find herself wanting,  contributes to this.

Women could use a little of the shameless confidence men take for granted.
— Annabel Crabb
Make the Friday Formula part of your non-negotiable weekly routine.

Make the Friday Formula part of your non-negotiable weekly routine.

The fix?

  • Put your blinkers on, and just get on with the work you really want to do.
  • Stop looking at how successful other people are on LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram - and start focusing on yourself and your plan in real life.
  • Stop comparing yourself to a future idealised version of what might be possible, and start being in the moment and celebrating today.
  • And stop criticising others for the same. If you must judge - critique the project, the policy or the process, not the person. 

Change your mind

You've probably heard of neuroplasticity where your brain begins to change depending on how you think. Well start thinking good things about yourself and change your brain positively.

I recommend the Friday Formula for consistently and routinely documenting evidence of your own wins and achievements (EVERY Friday, never fail from now on until the end of eternity) -

  • What your achievement was this week
  • The benefit you delivered (quantify or qualify) 
  • The core expertise used to deliver that achievement

Then celebrate how grounded and great this makes you feel with trusted friends, colleagues or ambition support network.  Then as soon as you're done celebrating, get on with the business of making a bigger difference again.

Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition
#success #career #visibility #standout #leadership  #executivewomen #careerfutureproofing

Need help with backing yourself more effectively? Book in for a 45 min phone call to see if one of my programs will help.


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Will fixing the gender salary gap close the gender gap?

Wow! Great topic and one I'm happy to explore because it's such a complex issue.  And in June 2017 I got to take part in the AIM Great Debate in Canberra on this very topic.

And while the issue is serious because of the very real impact it has on women and families more broadly, the format was fun which enabled us to go far and wide in creating compelling arguments.

AIM Great Debate Canberra 23 June 2017 - Virginia Haussegger AM, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Alex Sloan, Dr Saraid Billiard, Arabella Close and moi!

AIM Great Debate Canberra 23 June 2017 - Virginia Haussegger AM, Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Alex Sloan, Dr Saraid Billiard, Arabella Close and moi!

My fellow debaters are listed to the right and thanks to Jane Caro for hosting with humour, a light touch and commentary to fill in the gaps between arguments.

Closing the gender salary gap won't close the gender gap

I was on team negative so we argued that closing the gender salary gap would not close the gender gap, because discrimination comes in many forms, and while salary is one significant area, it's not the only one. 

Yes, I taught the audience how to adopt a manspreading pose - to take up more space and appear more powerful

Yes, I taught the audience how to adopt a manspreading pose - to take up more space and appear more powerful

I explored issues such as power and influence as other arenas where discrimination occur regularly which aren't always closed by money - as evidenced by some of my senior level clients who are frequently the highest paid person in the room, yet still fend off power plays, discriminatory comments and dismissal because of their gender, rather than being accepted for the contribution they are making to the value of the organisation. Sad but true. And to lighten the mood I got to talk about my four pet peevs - mansplaining, bropropriation, manterruptions and ...... manspreading. (More on that in a future post).

My fellow panelist Arabella Close, shared her experiences in educating high school students on bias and gender stereotypes and how she sees that gender stereotyping and fixed ideas start young and are hard to move. Her closing argument "the salary gap is just a symptom, not the cause" was an absolute winner, reminding us that one woman is killed each week in Australia as a result of domestic violence.

I am a feminist because it bothers me that a woman gets killed by her male partner every single week, and somehow that doesn’t qualify as a tools-down national crisis even though if a man got killed by a shark every week we’d probably arrange to have the ocean drained.
— Annabel Crabb

Virginia Hausegger AM rebutted and closed on our team's behalf with hard data about representation of women in parliament and leadership more broadly, along with compelling evidence that it's not just about the money so let's not imagine that if we get rid of the salary gap, the other issues will simply go away.

And team negative won!

Other arguments included:

  • Women in STEM as a minority

  • Ingrained attitudes towards women

  • Pink jobs for girls, blue jobs for boys

  • Feminised industries and lower pay in feminised industries

  • The cost of being female - yes our grocery basket is 7% more expensive at the supermarket

  • The tax on feminine hygiene products

  • Abortion laws in Australia

While a comedy style lunch debate on the gender salary gap probably didn't do justice to the complexity of the topic, it did allow for a really broad range of issues to be introduced.

Thanks to the team at AIM Australia for hosting the debate! Thanks to a highly engaged Canberra audience who made it all worthwhile. And thanks to our opposing team members who kept us competitive and ensured the arguments were rigorous and well thought out. 

And let's be honest, winners will only be grinners when the gender gap (including the gender salary gap) is closed.

AIM Great Debate Canberra w Amanda Blesing.JPG


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Vive la révolution! #ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition

#success #career #visibility #standout #leadership#executivewomen #careerfutureproofing

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The rise of the fempreneur both inside and outside of your organisation

The most important factor in determining whether you will succeed isn’t your gender, it’s you. Be open to opportunity and take risks. In fact, take the worst, the messiest, the most challenging assignment that you can find, and then take control.
— Angela Braly, CEO, WellPoint

We live in extremely exciting times with the numbers of women pursuing entrepreneurial ventures on the rise. Did you know that .....    

“Women-owned entities in the formal sector represent approximately 37 percent of enterprises globally — a market worthy of attention by businesses and policy makers alike. While aggregated data is often challenging to find, the recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) found 126 million women starting or running businesses, and 98 million operating established (over three and a half years) businesses. That’s 224 million women impacting the global economy — and this survey counts only 67 of the 188 countries recognized by the World Bank.”
Anoop Saxena, Founder & CEO, Womenora

In fact, 35-55-year-old female entrepreneurs are the biggest demographic, according to Drew Hendricks on Inc Magazine.

So what does this have to do with executive women?


The rise of the female entrepreneur is not limited to small business.  In fact throughout business, government and corporate there is a significant increase in the number of women establishing expert status as both infopreneurs (those who trade in information and ideas) and intrapreneurs (those who innovate, take risks and create new ways of doing things inside corporates). Each of these are aspects of entrepreneurialism, ergo, the feminine entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well in many areas of our society.

While creating, innovating and tailoring products and services specifically for women is smart in the entrepreneurial world I wonder if in fact it’s not so smart when it comes to the gender diversity and helping women lead.

When women speak to women’s only audiences, we’re preaching to the converted. We’re also not addressing or shining a light on the issues that frequently hold women back to the people who are best positioned to do anything about it.

One area where we can make a big difference - conference planning

Over the course of my own career, I’ve booked and briefed more speakers than you can poke a stick at. I always made a point to ask speaker bureaus and brokers for female speakers for technical conferences whether they were legal, insurance, policy or consumer affairs conferences or roundtables.

One thing I remember, that despite asking for female speakers on technical topics, I’d be told that audiences preferred male speakers ( ….. yawn .....right ....).

Something else I noticed was that there was definitely a shift in the last 10 or so years, as more female speakers came on board - however they were all speaking on female empowerment topics. (Hand on heart, I fit the bill as well.)

Why are these issues a problem?

The first is that the speaker gatekeeper was perhaps not as aware of gender diversity and inclusion principles as you might expect.  Don't believe the hype. Mixed gender audiences also love female speakers.

In my time, four of the audience favourites included Amanda McKenzie (a member of the youth climate coalition), Major Matina Jewell (on leading in a crisis), Avril Henry (on leadership more broadly) and Jane Caro (on consumer emotion), who each received rave reviews from men and women alike.

Secondly, if women keep preaching to the converted and to those who are already feeling marginalised, others inside organisations and industry, who may in fact hold more power to do something about it, never hear about the issues in the first place.

And finally, we keep perpetuating the cycle that aligns masculine voice with leadership and expert status. When we don't hear women speaking on leadership and expertise more broadly, men AND women don't see it was a viable option.

Reframe for a challenge

This week I was delighted to accept the opportunity to emcee the Project Management Institute Australian Conference in Sydney. Yes, it is a peak body event, showcasing innovative ideas, best practice and establishing benchmarks and standards for industry. Yes, it’s important that women are seen and heard on such conference programs and panels in areas that showcase expertise and leadership. And no, I didn’t insist on hosting the sessions designed to empower women.  

I'm delighted to emcee and create arguments and linkages, that help those women and men in the project management profession to create more effective pathways to leadership.  

Embrace your inner Expert and accept the challenge

It's got me thinking. As a result, I issue a challenge -        

  • To female executives, experts and speakers, whether you're trading in information, business transformation or creating new realities - to step outside of the narrow band of women's only topics and to tailor content for mixed gender audiences.        
  • To speaker brokers, bureaus, conference planners and conference planning committees - to program with gender diversity front of mind, but to look beyond gender. Don't simply program women on female empowerment topics and men for leading in a crisis topics. Consider fempreneurs and experts in the mix for technical and generic leadership topics, and consider male speakers for topics stereo-typically aligned with the feminine such as emotional intelligence and communication.  


Because if we are going to move the dial on gender diversity, then we need to create a seat at the leadership table, not just at the table for women.  And until we change the landscape and establish a new normal for expert status, smart and highly visible women still run the risk of remaining in the margins.  And having feminine voice heard and accepted as part of this new normal is not just great for business, but great for men and women as well.

Go on and embrace your inner expert. You know you want to!

Feminine Leadership Super Powers + Fempreneur Expert Status = Priceless

Remember - smart and savvy truly is the name of this game! Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution #feminineambition #executivebrand

Email me if you have a fempreneur expert status success story you want to share with me.

Or get in touch if you need a help with unpacking and selling your expert status brand more skilfully.


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email 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 key to inclusion in the gender diversity & inclusion game ....

We've all heard of the terms diversity and inclusion. But what do they really mean? Let me put it into context. 

Remember back to when you were a kid in school. Specifically when you were out on the oval suffering through being picked by the cool and sporty spice kids to be on the team (unless you were the cool and sporty kid yourself of course!).

I hear you!  I wasn't into team sports as a kid so that made me a lousy pick despite being relatively athletic and highly coordinated.  And it meant that I regularly had to suffer the indignity of wondering if this was the week when I'd face the humiliation of missing out or being last.

Diversity in this context would be the sporting captain picking a team of people with different strengths and weaknesses so that the team played better overall.  Not just going with those he or she liked, but understanding that this was for the benefit of the team's longer term performance so selecting for skills and attributes that were different to bolster the team overall..

Inclusion would have been to ensure that each of the skill sets and attributes selected for were equally valued  (the goal shooter no more or less valued than the centre or the wing defence). That even the kid chosen last felt as though they were part of the cool brigade, a valued contributor and equally able to participate in the direction of the team as anyone else. Late to the party didn't mean valued less.

In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.
— Sheryl Sandberg

In a business environment?

Diversity and inclusion in a business setting are not really different in my mind, except that the cool kids are still ruling the roost and the inclusion piece is still a long way off.

Yet there is mounting evidence purely for the business benefits of the cause including recent research demonstrating that companies with at least 30% female leadership adding as much as 6% to net margins. (Peterson Institute for International Economics 2017)

Diversity - where you have different types of people working in an organisation. In the gender diversity movement it means organisations who have an even spread of men and women throughout, at all levels. Equal numbers of women and men in support type functions. Equal numbers women and men in leadership and management type functions.

Inclusion is where the organisation adapts and changes to embrace and value the different thinking, different approaches and different ideas that will result from having more women in senior roles and more men in more enablement/optimisation functions. 

You can invite women to management roles, to the C-suite and to the Board room table. But unless you also create and drive a culture that treats women, their leadership style and their opinions with respect, until womens' contribution is welcomed and valued, and the incumbent is prepared to adapt and relish the opportunity to change and grow - you are quite simply missing the point.

  • Quotas and targets will drive gender diversity.
  • Inclusion is the key that unlocks the benefits (social, cultural, economic & business) that gender diversity brings. 

Both require self awareness, direct links to strategy and future focused leadership, along with role modelling from the top down. And none of us will reap the rewards until the inclusion piece is solved.

And as women are still 'leaning out' at the rate of knots, business, corporate and government are obviously still not getting the formula right.

There is one company in Australia who is doing this extremely well. Aurecon headed by Giam Swiegers is winning hands down in reaping the innovation benefits that diversity AND inclusion bring.  I'd love to see far more.

Feminine leadership superpowers  + inclusion = priceless

Vive la révolution!  #talentrevolution #ambitionrevolution

So has your organisation really embraced the whole 'inclusion' piece?  Or is there still a layer of 'permafrost' in upper middle and lower senior management who haven't got the memo yet? Drop me a line and let me know. 

And reach out if you want help with this.


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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email 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

Enablement functions and the leaky bathtub theory

Many women work in enablement functions inside a business. You know, roles such as sales support, customer support, management support, human resources, marketing support, back end finance or procurement.

Unfortunately these roles are perceived as the opposite of those at the pointy end of the business with direct P&L responsibility. So regrettably, they are typically the first to go with budget cuts, redundancies and efficiency dividends.

Just like trying to fill the bathtub with the plug out, organisations who have diversity targets in place but aren't really focused on cultural change within the organisation to ensure women are included in pointy end business decisions, are losing women at the rate of knots, despite best intentions!

So what can you as an individual do? 

Flick the switch

Flick the switch

  • Flick the switch - from enablement to optimisation. A simple change in language could make all the difference by helping both you and the rest of the business to see yourself and the value of your work differently.  Enablement sounds like a "helper" personal brand, always playing second fiddle.  Optimisation sounds as though it delivers a far better Return On Investment (ROI).
  • Quantify the value and ROI you do deliver - in language and measures the pointy ends of the business understand - regularly, visibly and transparently. After all it costs 4 x more to recruit & train a new staff member than retain and old one. Plus it costs 7 x more to purchase a new customer than retain an old one.

    Keep ready reckoners close to hand, and claim market share where possible for the part your division plays in the success of a project or the business overall where possible. Don't be shy and don't sell yourself short. Back yourself and sell your ideas in ways the business will hear and understand.
  • Dare to challenge the rest of the business to do things differently - instead of simply doing your job well rigorously, thoroughly, properly and appropriately.  Paint a vivid picture of the success that might be possible if the business does get behind your optimisation vision. Paint an even gorier picture of what's in the pipeline for the business if it remains passive or simply focusing on business as usual. Remember, sustainability and relevance are two of the biggest issues facing most organisations today so optimisation is likely to be an ideal solution to both.
  • And remember that one of the biggest benefits of gender diversity is innovation - new ways of solving old problems - new products, new services and new markets. Most businesses aren't inventing new wheels any more. In fact, they're optimising and reinventing variations on old wheels.  And just because it's always been done a certain way before doesn't mean it's got to be like that in the future. So once again, back yourself and your ideas and your willingness to solve things differently.  You and your ideas might just be the secret weapon your organisation needs right now.

In 2015 McKinsey reported that at a minimum $12 trillion could be added to the global GDP by 2025 if we advance women’s equality.  So enablement can't all be bad. It's just the way that others think of it that's skewed. So help them to help you by reframing the perception and taking your newly rebranded 'optimisation' responsibilities seriously.

Feminine leadership superpowers + optimisation = priceless

Vive la révolution!  #ambitionrevolution

Do drop me an email if you've got a great case study or story about how you 'optimised' your business unit!

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Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email 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