Viridian Financial Group celebrates International Women’s Day annually and 2023 was no different! A sea of purple washed over our 27 offices as staff came together over savoury and sweet dishes complemented with bubbly to celebrate the women in our lives as a united team.
Understanding that each one of us can actively support and embrace equity (#EmbraceEquity) within our own sphere of influence, we came together across Australia. Executive Advisor Kathy Havers lead a panel discussion with three women who have endured challenges and celebrated triumphs throughout their highly successful careers; retired Supreme Court Judge Jane Campton, Industrial Relations Practitioner & Mediator Pauline Burke, and Owner of Regional Bus Company and Founder of Kindred Spirits Foundation Rhonda Renwick.
Listening as they shared their stories, it was clear that whilst Jane, Pauline and Rhonda all came from very different career paths and industries, their stories all shared a common sentiment.
As Pauline put it, “Growing up, there wasn’t a role for women in the world.”
There was no equal pay, no maternity leave, no chance to study maths or science. You were a nurse or a teacher. You got married, you had children and became a homemaker.
The remarkable careers these women took on – often whilst being the only female in the room – left us all feeling inspired to dream big, work hard and challenge the status quo.
The session provided real perspective on how far we’ve come and how much the role of women has changed. That’s not to say there isn’t still a long way to go. As Pauline reminded us, Australia is still only ranked number 50 on the global Gender Equality Gap Index. But as Rhonda reminded us all on the day, “If you work together, change can happen.”
#EmbracingEquity Thoughts from Viridian Women
The theme of IWD this year was #EmbraceEquity. Where equality is about giving everyone the same resources or opportunities, equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and their own individual needs. It’s about meeting people where they are.
Some of our female staff shared their thoughts on this year’s theme with me…
“A big lesson for me came after I had my son. Up until then, I felt I was on an equal playing field with my immediate colleagues and I didn’t think this would change while I was on parental leave. Boy, was I wrong! I was barely out of sight for six months and whilst I tried to stay connected, my leader at the time did not lean into that process as well as they could have. Upon my return it was assumed (their own words not mine) that I was no longer interested in a career now that I was a mum – that it would be difficult to balance my responsibilities and I should take my time to ease in slowly. So of course, when an opportunity came up to step up into a leadership role for 3 months, it was given to a male colleague who also had recently became a dad to his third.” – Daria Hansen, Senior Risk Manager, Sydney NSW.
“Recently I was left as the only female on the executive team for a brief period of time and after expressing my concerns was told that I am usually the strongest voice in the room and this would continue regardless of the female to male ratios. It was nice to hear, and although we are still far away from where we should be as sexism and glass ceilings still exist, I believe we are moving in the right direction and companies such as Viridian are working hard to support diversity at all levels.” – Kasia Gascoigne, Chief Risk Officer, Melbourne VIC.
Where to now?
The Australian Government has committed to releasing a report card every International Women’s Day on the status of women to shine a light on where progress is slow and more effort is needed. The 2023 report can be found here.
With the full-time weekly gender pay gap still sitting at 13.3%, women of all ages still spending 9 hours more a week than men on unpaid work and care and 1 in 4 women still experiencing sexual violence in their lifetime, our job in creating a more equitable world for all is far from over.
Let IWD 2023 serve as a focus point and a rallying call for all of us to take action. We can all continue the conversations, challenge gender stereotypes, draw attention to bias and seek out inclusion. Not only can we all embrace equity, we must all embrace equity.
Bridget King is Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Viridian Financial Group.