The inaugural Women in Media forum might be over, but the solutions and ideas that came out of the workshops are still very much alive in the minds of attendees. So we decided to provide a wrap up of all the clever practices that should be implemented within the workplace, thought of by your very own employees, sponsored by OMD.
The day began with a keynote from Nine Entertainment’s director of innovation, partnerships & experience, Lizzie Young, and speaking to B&T, Young said it was important for her to talk about the juggling act for women, male champions of change, and shifting the conversation.
“The solution is threefold, starting with the culture that a company sets and the behaviour of the individuals in that company, both male and female.
“And how it’s dealt with is the other matter. I think enabling that change and enabling the conversation and the development of the generation of the males coming through is also really important.
“Until the pay gap is resolved, until work/life balance is achievable without being compromised, I would agree we still need to do something.
“We need to stop talking about the juggling act. We sound like crazy, harassed clowns. It’s not about that – it’s about how to get balance, and I don’t necessarily think that’s any easier for a guy to achieve.”
On the idea of supporting men who advocate gender equality, Young added, “Who is the guy who is gender blind in media? Why isn’t the ‘male champion of change’ recognised somewhere as a starting point?
“I still think perception is a problem. We’ve got to get rid of that perception that media is a boy’s club because it’s not a reality. It doesn’t exist anymore. And that perception is actually quite damaging. If you’re 24 and have an ambition to work in a media company, do you think those companies aren’t open to you because they’re a boy’s club? I would hope not.
“I hope people realise after this event that ultimately you are in control of your career. I genuinely believe you can have it all but you have to believe that and you’ve got to find a way to make that happen.
“’You can have it all’ means you can have whatever is right for you, your family, and your circumstances.”
The Hackathon portion of the day required the crowd to split into smaller groups and make their way to three different tables, with three different issues to solve. The discussions centred on Women in Leadership, Work/Life Balance and Pay Gaps, and were led by an exceptional collection of table captains, who helped participants build on each other’s ideas to crack the problems.
Here’s our little wrap up of the key takeaways from each topic:
Women in Leadership
> Mentoring programs: Have a network of mentors and mentees that are then matched together based on what mentees are looking for and how mentors can help, using both male and female mentors. For example, B&T could facilitate mentor networking that pairs ‘perfect matches’ for mentors and mentees to give more women in the industry access to senior leaders and gain valuable advice for their careers.
> Change the conversation regarding maternity and paternity leave to an overarching ‘parental leave’ conversation to remove gender from the issue and make it a family issue not a women’s issue. Urge a national family body or organisation, such as Australian Parents Council for example, to create a ‘seal of approval’ that rewards and endorses companies that offer great parental leave schemes, in the same way the Heart Foundation endorses healthier food with the red tick.
> Promote the idea that an equal gender split is just good business sense, and promote/award/celebrate agencies that are winning accolades and reaching record profits as a result of their gender equal workplace, because when you have diversity in your team, it is economically beneficial for everyone involved.
Work / Life Balance
> Lead from the top: Management Perspective
- Offer staggered hours and KPIs based on projects and quality, not quantity.
- Trust your employees to work when they say they’re going to work, and as a result trust them to work from home, work outside of the office, and work their own hours.
- Lead by example, and show staff that it’s ok to leave earlier some days and it’s important to have a life outside of work. If you’re working until 10pm every night, your staff won’t feel comfortable to work more flexible hours.
- Lock the door – close up the office by a certain time and don’t let your staff back in!
> Employee responsibility
- Work as teams to establish personal KPIs that involve you following your passions or doing things you love outside of work. So if Susan wants to do yoga twice a week at 6pm, and her colleagues can see she’s still powering away at 5.45pm, they have a responsibility to “peer pressure” her into going to her yoga class and leaving work on time.
- Learn how you work best, what hours are most productive for you, and then have a conversation with your boss about how to arrange these working conditions.
- Vote with your feet: If you don’t find what you need from your workplace, leave. You will find another employer who respects and appreciates your values in the same way you do.
> Laws & Schools
- We’re so self validated by what we do and our jobs, and everyone always asks, ‘What do you do?’ upon meeting someone. Instead, we need to be asking, ‘Who are you?’ and begin to encourage a new culture of work/life balance from earlier stages, like in school and tertiary education. Schools and families should place more emphasis on what people’s passions are and how they are well-rounded people rather than placing all importance on what they do for a living.
- Henry Ford said workers should have eight hours of work, eight hours of play and eight hours of sleep everyday. We need to go back to this notion.
- Overhaul the way in which career counsellors and advisors in schools offer future advice. Instead of placing so much emphasis on careers in the future, this is where students should be learning how to chase passions, work hard and find a healthy balance.
> Transparency: Force companies to have published benchmarks and salary bands based on different industries that reflect the years of experience, rather than gender or negotiated salaries. Have internal company audits to ensure this process continues and is standardised.
> Use programs to teach the tools and skills needed to empower and enable confident conversation regarding performance and value, which will ideally lead to confident conversations about pay/benefit increases.
> Have paid maternity leave that is government subsidised for businesses i.e. rework the company tax threshold, and have, for example, a three per cent business mandate on maternity or paternity leave.