When research winds up, or the conversation finishes on women and the narrative of systemic bias, when the lights go down on the stage, when the speaker moves away from the radio mic, when the discussion finishes in the boardroom, women return to life as it has been for a very long time. Change is limited, insight is shallow, real bias and its consequences, are only a blink of an eye away for many, if not most.
The reaction to Christine Holgate, or Gladys Berejiklian captures the dilemma painfully and perfectly. On the weekend, a man I love, who is very close to me, mansplained the difference between criminal actions and misogyny in Australian politics in response to Gladys’s resignation.
Everything he said sounded sensible. I couldn’t think of anything to say in response. I couldn’t say ‘In my bones I know you are wrong’. Terrible debating strategy if you value science. Or is it?
Sometimes intuitive insight should be heeded. And mine is – we are a long way from change and awfully close to going backwards at high speed. We don’t really understand what’s going on, do we? We only find the toxic context if we go mining for it and that takes determination and effort. You must want to uncover the truth to find something other than news that validates your own perspective.
In the last 18 months, women have endured twice the rate of unemployment as men, have in large part reverted to traditional unpaid roles, are the subject of increased rates of violence and are disproportionately at the front line of healthcare during the pandemic. And that’s in Australia!
And heaven help you if you look in other places around the world such as Afghanistan where violence has emerged against women in bucketloads, where study subjects for women at university have been limited and all-male cabinets have been established – despite overwhelming evidence that women make incredibly good leaders. Over 135,000 educators and healthcare workers, all women, have not been paid their salaries in Afghanistan since the Taliban took back the country. We think ‘we are not like that’. But maybe we are closer than most people realise.
In March this year, from a total of 50 CEO appointments in ASX 200 companies, since 2017, only three appointees have been women. As recently as 14 days ago, we did a simple Mentimeter in Homeward Bound asking how many women had experienced either direct discrimination in their careers because they were women or had witnessed it happening to other women. 80% said they had.
Women in Afghanistan don’t feel safe to return to work. Many women in Australia don’t feel safe at work.
I repeat, as often as I must, supporting and promoting women, while an act of decency, intelligence, compassion, and equity, is actually a significant contribution to the sustainability of the planet. It is not just that women experience discrimination. It’s not just that they carry the load of care or can be abused verbally and physically.
It’s that we all, by nature as much as nurture, have the capacity to lead collaboratively, inclusively, with a legacy-mindset, trusted with the assets of the commons.
Time is short.
We must beat the drum of change louder and louder and louder.
This is for everyone.
Founder, Speaker, Senior Consultant & Coach
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