International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated annually around the world on the 8th of March.

Every year a different theme provides a central platform to focus our conversations, and this year’s United Nations IWD theme is Generation Equality - Realising women’s rights and an equal future.

Generation Equality is a call to action to join forces across generations, to create a world where every girl and woman has equal opportunities to fulfil their full potential.

                                    - United Nations Women

Tying in with this year’s theme, we’ve asked people to share their thoughts on empowering women in the workplace, and we’re showcasing a wealth of ideas from across generations below.

Gender inequality exists and continues to negatively impact retirement outcomes for women across Australia. Gaps in retirement savings stem from many factors not just from a gap in pay, but also systemic issues, inequality in role types, unaddressed unconscious biases, and a lack of confidence in women leading to not applying for, or not being considered for management or leadership positions.

As a recognised WGEA Employer of Choice for Gender Equality, and one of only 119 recipients in 2020,  we are proud to support not just our own workforce, but also individuals and employers across Australia in their efforts to level the playing field for women of all generations.

Empowering women in the workplace

Reflections from experts and senior business leaders

“Empowering women in the workplace” was launched last year on “Equal Pay Day” (28 August) – the date symbolising an extra 59 days women need to work since the end of the financial year to earn the same as men.

In this series, we asked a panel of experts and business leaders for some of the ways they address barriers for women in the workplace.

Empowering women in the workplace

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Giving both women and men the same opportunity to prosper in the workplace can invigorate organisational culture, drive creative thinking, and positively influence your brand, ultimately driving a positive impact on the bottom line.

Empowering women in the workplace should be a critical priority for all Australian employers. It’s the right thing to do, and it makes business sense.

Thoughts from our talented colleagues

When we asked our colleagues to share the best tips they have received, or would like to give, on empowering women in the workplace, their ideas were so great and varied we wanted to share as many as possible.

Watch the video and read more pearls of wisdom below.

Head of Organisational Development

Don't expect development to happen to you, or mentors/coaches to find you - go and find them. Ask for opportunities and development, put your hand up. And just try - step out of what is comfortable or easy and just have a go - this is when you truly learn.

Deanne Stewart, CEO

Don’t forget that to be effective in your role it’s about:

  1. Credibility (being great at your job)
  2. Connections (taking time to establish strong, trusted relationships up/down and across the organisation)
  3. Confidence (having courage, backing yourself, and being aware of your presence)

Women are often great at #1 But may not focus as much on #2 and #3, so, don’t try and “fit in” to a corporate culture. Make sure that you are working for an organisation where the values and culture fit you! 

Portfolio Manager - Retirement Strategy

Someone once said to my much younger self. “Stop apologising already! You’re great. Just own it.” It was exactly what I needed to hear, and I often think back to it. Other wisdom that had an impact on me:

  • ask lots of questions. You’re not supposed to know everything, you’re supposed to learn
  • put your hand up and seek out opportunities, they don’t just fall in your lap
  • it’s not realistic or efficient to do everything to perfection
  • be kind to yourself and patient. Careers are long and the destination isn’t nearly as important as how much you enjoy the journey
  • if an opportunity scares the hell out of you, it’s probably just the next skill you need to learn
  • where you can, make choices in your partnership that help you both to share the load. Much easier (and more fun) to juggle all those balls between two, than to try and do it all yourself.
  • sleep deprivation and time out of work makes it is easy to feel insecure when you return from maternity leave. But don’t underestimate the skills you’ve learnt during your leave. EQ, empathy, resilience, multi-tasking, adaptability - these are all increasingly valuable attributes. 

Program Manager - Organisational Redesign

BE KIND. Be kind to *yourself* when you don't achieve a goal you were aiming for - reflect, learn and try again! Be kind to *others*, when they don't meet your expectations - they're human too and miscommunication of expectations is often at fault. Talk it out with open ears and work it out together. 

Senior B2B Marketing Manager

Be honest to yourself, and speak your truth (right place and time).
Don't assume, you will likely be wrong - take the time to clarify your understanding.
Empathy unlocks and opens minds and hearts, incredibly helpful in building strong connections. 

Senior Partnerships Manager

The best value savings you will ever make are in your 20's and 30's, so make yourself a priority.
A man is not a plan, have an account in your own name, not joint. It's not a comment on him, it's an affirmation of you.
Say yes more often, even when it scares the bejeebers out of you.
Ask for help, no-one thinks less of you, you don't have to have all the answers.
Play to your strengths. we all have them, but we don't always value them. 

B2B Marketing Manager

Try not to worry about things you can’t control - you can control your mindset and your attitude so focus on this and you’ll have given yourself a good chance at whatever your definition of success is.

Success also doesn’t have to mean being the greatest or the most decorated - happiness and being able to come out the other side of a difficult situation with your heart and mind intact is also a pretty good definition of success.

Quality Team Leader, Member Service Centre

Every woman is a superwoman. Just own your superpower!
Don’t waste time looking back unless it is used to propel you forwards.
Sometimes you need reminding that you pay your own bills hence you need to toughen up!
Kindness is a virtue that keeps paying. 

Regional Manager Financial Advice

There are some things that everyone should consider:

  • Know how much you have in your super account and check your statement to see the balance and to understand what insurance cover you have.
  • Add a little extra to super throughout your working life to help compensate for lost contributions during any time away from the workforce.
  • Consolidate your super if you have more than one account.
  • Take advantage of any tax benefits including making extra pre-tax contributions.
  • Get a ‘super health check’ from a qualified financial planner.

Financial Planner

I’m a big fan of just being yourself and not trying to act like one of the blokes just to try & fit in and to build up a support network of likeminded women both within the company and outside.

If you can see it, you can be it. In some workplaces there aren’t always a lot of senior women leaders to look up to. Wherever possible, employers should have internal networking programs, female-focussed leadership courses and mentoring programs for aspiring female colleagues. This will help them to connect with other more senior women in leadership to network, share experiences and get career advice.

This International Women’s Day, as an employer, mentor, colleague, friend or family member, have you considered what you can do to better empower the women around you?