Cathie Reid, co-founder of Icon Group said she felt most Australians “would like to feel we are significantly ahead of developing countries in closing the gender gap.” “The fact is, in developing countries they don’t have the time or inclination to ignore half of the talent pool,” she said. “That is what is driving that gap between emerging economies and long-term established economies.”
Cathie says economies such as Australia have “established levels of bias” which needed to be proactively broken, while emerging economies were faced more with an issue of staffing its new economic growth. “If we are waiting for change to happen because we think it should, nothing will change,” she said. “We are still dealing with structures that have been in place for 150 years around the role of men and women in business. In emerging nations, that are building their systems from scratch, it would be insane for them to ignore half the workforce and only look at men.”
Cathie says one way to help bridge the gender gap is the use of quotas for women in the workplace and in positions of seniority. “If a woman is on a board or in a position because of a quota, while no-one wants to be the token anything, it is still a woman in a position she would not otherwise be in,” she said. “Once we get women in the room, they will add value and then it will seem ludicrous that they had to get their on a quota.”
Cathie says the #PressforProgress campaign has been a step in the right direction for gender equality in Queensland. “A campaign like this on social media allows for thoughts to be gathered and looked at collectively rather than having them all over the place. And, as importantly, it leaves room for men to be a part of the conversation and if we want to see sustainable change, we need to include men. They have the power and they need to be active participants in this discussion and movement.”
Read Robin Francis’ views on the Gender Pay Gap, here.