Some of Australia’s most eminent women’s advocates will this month explore the structural and cultural barriers to equality in the public and private sector, with a focus on where progress is being made and how diversity leads to better outcomes.
Business and public sector luminaries Wendy McCarthy, Lucy Turnbull, and Amy Brown will join Annabel Crabb for a discussion on September 23 to continue the conversation from Ms Crabb’s recent Ms Represented series on the ABC.
“We are trying to broaden the conversation about what are the structures and cultural settings in place that mean that women get to much more senior roles in the public sector,” said Corrie McLeod, publisher of the event media partner InnovationAus.
“We know participation is roughly equal but when it comes to senior roles, we tend to lose women in the private sector.”
In Australia, women hold less than 15 per cent of chair positions and just 28 per cent of directorships, according to the government’s latest Gender workplace statistics. And some 30 per cent of boards and governing bodies still have no female directors.
By contrast, only 0.4 per cent of boards and governing bodies had no male directors,
Further Australian Government research has found female representation in senior leadership roles not only to reduces the gender pay gap, but also improves company profitability and productivity.
The Counterpoint: Women in Government series explores how the challenges can be addressed by facilitating discussions between senior and influential figures from the public and private sector.
As part of the series, an In Conversation event on September 23 will begin with a fireside chat between Ms Crabb and Rob Le Busque, the regional vice president of the Verizon Business Group, which is a presentation partner of the Counterpoint series.
The chat will explore the making of the ground-breaking Ms Represented series which focused on the women who had disrupted the Australian political landscape.
“The panellists for this forum have had diverse careers across both the public and private sectors and there’s a very important conversation to be had in terms of the comparison of those experiences,” Mr Le Busque said.
“We know diverse groups of people make better decisions, and it’s important to look beyond this to understand how it impacts the formulation of strategy and policy.”
Ms Crabb will then be joined by Wendy McCarthy, Lucy Turnbull, and Amy Brown for a panel discussion and audience Q&A.
Ms McLeod said it is difficult to overstate the contributions of these four female pioneers, who have each held senior leadership roles, cutting new trails for others to follow.
“We’re bringing together a panel of such incredible women that played such a large role in shaping Australia.
Author, businesswoman and activist Wendy McCarthy will share experience from her many senior leadership roles across the public and private sector for more than 50 years.
In 1968, newly pregnant Ms McCarthy and her husband joined the Childbirth Education Association, campaigning for the rights of fathers to be present at the births of their children and abortion law reform. It kickstarted a life of activism and leadership.
Ms McCarthy went on to help set up the progressive Women’s Electoral Lobby in Sydney at a time in Australia when there was no maternity leave and restricted access to contraception.
A giant of Australia’s women’s rights movement, Ms McCarthy also set up her own consulting firm in the mid-90s, advising on leadership and diversity, and went on to sit on multiple boards and was University of Canberra for a decade.
Lucy Turnbull, an urbanist, businesswoman and local government politician brings a unique perspective to the discussion through her own work in the public and private sector, including sitting on several boards and as the first female Lord Mayor of Sydney in the early 2000s
With a background in commercial law and investment banking, Ms Turnbull is now director of a private investment firm and is active in the not-for-profit sector. She continues to campaign on what she describes as a “gender equity chasm” in Australia.
Investment NSW Chief executive officer Amy Brown is a rising leader, offering insight from within the new state agency connecting government with the private sector.
With a background in law, Ms Brown joined the New South Wales Public Sector in 2018 and believes enabling conversations can foster a culture of strong leadership.
The Counterpoint – Women in Government virtual event will be held online from 4pm to 5pm on Thursday 23 September. You can register for the event here. The event is presented by InnovationAus.com in partnership with Verizon Business Group.
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