Even When Women Kick Butt, Australia’s Boardrooms Still Don’t Get It

Even When Women Kick Butt, Australia’s Boardrooms Still Don’t Get It
SHARE
THIS



At an industry function I recently attended, a young woman – who I guessed was in her 20s – approached me and asked a question. It was the same question I get asked over and over, and I’m sure it was the question I asked at that point in my career, too – “How do you do it all?”

Read my bio – including the bit that says two kids in primary school and a senior full-time position in a leading advertising agency – and on the surface, “How do you do it all?” means “Explain to me how you juggle work along with the demands of two young boys”. I could talk about how I manage the minutes in my day and I’m sure it would be a helpful answer to a fair question.

people-mimhaysom-hero[1]

However, if I assume, instead, that I’m being asked to share what my journey has been like throughout my career:to get to a place where I have a senior leadership role in a mostly male-dominated industry, manage to have kids along the way, keep a seat at the table, have pay equity with my male colleagues and maintain a healthy family life, then it’s a great question.

The fact the question keeps getting asked raises two obvious points. One: that so far nobody, including myself, can deliver a reliable, repeatable pathway to achieving “it all”; and two: the data continues to support the fact that – even if women do manage to get close to ‘doing it all’ – the gender pay gap is still widening; meaning that in our supposedly enlightened times, women are still less likely to earn as much as their male counterparts.

Even when women do kick butt, Australia’s boardrooms still don’t get it

The number of women sitting on Australia’s top corporate boards has more than doubled in the past four years, but is still only at 17.6% (according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors). This is an appalling number. Especially in light of the evidence that having women on board is good for the bottom line. A study by the Reibey Institute showed Australian companies with women directors delivered 8.7% higher returns on equity over a five-year period than those run by all-male boards. Bolstering the argument, reports from the US (Catalyst ‘The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation of Boards.’) show markedly higher financial performance for companies with more women board directors: Return on Equity (53% above those with less female board members), Return on Sales (42%) and Return on Invested Capital (66%).

Entrenched thinking: Women, even at the top of ladder, will settle for less on the pay front

And here’s the worst. Women who do manage to successfully climb the ladder and make it near or to the top, are rewarded with a pay cheque that is as much as 45% lower than their male counterpart. (Workplace Gender Equity Agency – WGEA – Report 2015). This is an issue that is so systematically entrenched in the Australian workplace that WGEA holds workshops with titles like ‘Pay equity advanced: advanced strategy and analysis for pay equity’.

Yes, we can flood the world with workshops, but data shows that the gender pay gap is widening, with latest ABS (Australian Bureau of Statistics) figures putting the gender pay gap in Australia at a record high of 18.8%.

Is there something women aren’t doing at the pay negotiation table that men are?

This is the difficult – the WGEA calls it the ‘double bind’ that women experience when it comes to negotiating pay.

Attempts by women to assertively argue their value are viewed more harshly than when a man exhibits the same behavior, which results in women being less likely to put forward their case for higher pay.”

 

And if you think this is a problem limited to women working their way up the ladder, think again, because it also affects women who’ve supposedly made it all the way to the top such as Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook COO) who observes, “No wonder women don’t negotiate as much as men. It’s like trying to cross a minefield backward in high heels”, referring to the double standards and judgment many women feel comes with negotiating assertively.

How do you solve the problem without asking women to behave like men?

It starts at the top. We constantly hear it’s impossible to change the entrenched culture of an organisation. If the hard work has been done to put in place strategies and actions in our organisations to promote the advancement of women, then the clear, measurable and achievable objectives for management around changing the culture should be a KPI. High performing organisations are committed to not only achieving, but smashing KPI’s.

Reward women who are great performers – that sends an important message right through the organisation. And if there is a massive imbalance of female representation at the board level – then fix it. Get more women on the board. (40% of M&C Saatchi’s leadership team is female).

Share knowledge. I tell my story to anyone who asks. I don’t have a secret sauce – on the contrary – I want to share the benefit of my experience and the outcomes that followed, with as many women as possible. The last thing women need is an adversary in the form of other women in the workplace.

Mentoring is the glue holding the whole thing together

I still believe mentoring is the most impactful thing we can do. You have to inspire women coming up the ranks to stick at it, to navigate the minefield, to not imitate the behaviour of their male colleagues, but to define and refine their own unique strengths and approach to building their career. Sometimes the quickest and most effective way from A to B is to ask for directions.

I still have a mentor. He is brilliant, and has unknowingly shaped my career path and given me absolute clarity at critical decision-making moments during my work life. He has actively pushed me into roles I sometimes thought were beyond me, and encouraged me to compare myself to all of my contemporaries, not just the female ones.

If there isn’t a suitable mentor at your organisation, go out and find one

Our Industry bodies such as The Communications Council (‘She says’) and The Marketing Academy provide mentoring forums and opportunities, but while those opportunities are fantastic, they are offered to a select few, and not many agencies have ‘mentoring programs’ in place.

As agency leaders, it is the responsibility of all of us to give support and guidance to the next generation of talent: to help them be brilliant, and to help the females amongst them step up and onto a more level playing field.

Mentoring is absolutely a key KPI, and should be treated as such given the value that doing it well can deliver to the business. If there is no formalised mentoring program within our companies, then we have already failed.

From a business perspective, it is well beyond our best interests to even the playing field. It’s insane not to tackle and change business culture to support women on the way up the corporate ladder. If we don’t, not only do we run the risk of losing great talent along the way, we are accepting the world viewed through the lens of just half its population.

Mim Haysom is managing partner of M&C Saatchi Australia. Yesterday (8 March) was International Women’s Day. To mark the occasion, M&C Saatchi hosted a ‘Women’s Breakfast’  that featured inspirational talks from high-flying female staff and clients and announced the Group’s new mentoring program. 

Latest News

The Trade Desk Founder Talks Connected TV, Netflix’s “Inevitable” Ad Future & More
  • Advertising
  • Technology

The Trade Desk Founder Talks Connected TV, Netflix’s “Inevitable” Ad Future & More

You may have seen him grace the stage earlier this month at Advertising Week in Sydney, and while he was Down Under, Jeff Green was kind enough to chew the fat with B&T. He’s the founder, CEO, and chairman of programmatic behemoth The Trade Desk (TTD), which in its latest earnings update revealed a 57 […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage
  • Media

Clems Syd & Extra GUM Unveil YouTube Digital Stage

YouTube EXTRA Gum has launched EXTRA Support Acts, a program created to support Australia’s up and coming musicians by transforming pre-roll ads on YouTube into a digital support stage. It has been created in partnership with Clemenger BBDO Sydney as creative lead, Universal Music Australia and BRING for talent and music strategy and content, MediaCom and YouTube. The […]

Damien Terakes Joins Havas Media As Client Services Director
  • Advertising
  • Media

Damien Terakes Joins Havas Media As Client Services Director

Havas Media Group has appointed Damien Terakes as client services director. Following multiple new business wins and continued agency growth, the position will see Terakes take on a senior management role across all Havas Media clients in Australia as well as several global accounts. Terakes has built an impressive media career, with more than 30 years’ experience as […]

Cindy Gallop’s Six Principles For Creating Experiences That Connect
  • Marketing

Cindy Gallop’s Six Principles For Creating Experiences That Connect

The inimitable Cindy Gallop returned to Australia this week to give a high-energy, 15-minute presentation at Adobe Symposium on the six key principles for creating experiences that connect.  According to the founder and CEO of MakeLoveNotPorn,  these principles also apply to successful relationships in life as much as business. Without further ado, here they are (in her own words): […]

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings
  • Media

OMD Australia Tops 2018 RECMA Rankings

OMD Australia has taken the top spot for Australia’s Number 1 media agency in size, according to RECMA’s 2018 ‘Overall Activity Volume Rankings’ report released last week. Additionally, the company was named first in profile classification with a dominant profile for the 3rd consecutive year, along with vitality ranking and structure ranking. Furthermore, OMD Australia was also named […]

Former Google Exec Joins HubSpot As APAC Managing Director
  • Technology

Former Google Exec Joins HubSpot As APAC Managing Director

HubSpot has appointed Ex-Googler Shahid Nizami as MD of the Asia Pacific region. In his new role, Shahid will be responsible for HubSpot’s performance across Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, and India and will be based in HubSpot’s Singapore office, working closely with the teams based in both Singapore and Sydney. Before joining HubSpot, Nizami led the […]

Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team
  • Media

Red Agency Bolsters Sydney Team

Judging by the image, it seems Red Agency may have had no staff whatsoever prior to this hiring spree.

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey
  • Media

Nine Appoints Editor For 9Honey

B&T's editor coincidentally spilled honey on his shirt while typing this. And by typing, we mean copy and pasting.

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less   
  • Advertising
  • Media

Y&R Sydney Scores Best&Less  

Y&R wins Best&Less amid rumours the clothing shop its changing name to 'Somewhat OK&Reasonably cheap'.

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Judy Sahay

B&T's Women in Media profiles are like a wave washing over you. Even more so if an actual wave washes over you.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)
  • Marketing
  • Opinion

How B2B Companies Can Use Their Customer Data More Effectively (And Why They Need To)

In this opinion piece, SalesPreso co-founder and CMO Joel Thomson (pictured below) explains how B2B companies can use their data more effectively and deliver a personalised customer experience that matches their B2C counterparts. From the Cambridge Analytica scandal to the EU’s recent GDPR legislation, this year has prompted individuals all over the world to consider […]

Opinion

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine
M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • Media

M&C Saatchi Launches THIS Film Studio

Not one to rest on its laurels, M&C Saatchi unveils new production studio it hasn't called 'Not One To Rest On Laurels'.

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’
  • Advertising
  • Technology

Creative Agency Launches Project Management Tool ‘Hassl’

Yesterday at TedX Melbourne the team behind award-winning, Melbourne-based agency Your Creative launched their new tech venture Hassl, the project management platform taking on Trello and the likes. With the belief there was a better design solution to project management, the platform has been developed over the last two years in collaboration with their clients. […]

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly
  • Media

ABC Axes Tom Ballard’s Tonightly

It's one of the ABC's edgier, controversial shows, but Tom Ballard's proven too edgy and controversial for ABC chiefs.

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership
  • Advertising
  • Media

Taboola Strengthens APAC Programmatic Offering With New Partnership

Global discovery platform Taboola has announced a strategic partnership with Wider Planet, Korea’s largest demand-side and data management platform. The partnership builds on Taboola’s programmatic efforts in Asia-Pacific, and will bring together Korea’s largest demand platform for agencies and brands to provide access to Taboola’s global audience through premium publisher placements. The partnership means advertisers […]

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients
  • Marketing

The Haus Picks Up Two New Clients

The Haus announces two new client wins. Admittedly, not as good as winning three, but far better than losing four.

businessman using tablet PC and information communication technology concept. IoT(Internet of Things). GUI(graphical user interface). paperless office.
  • Marketing
  • Technology

Smartly: The Future Of Martech Is Automated

Automated ad buying platform, Smartly was at the centre of the tech innovation stage at the Online Retailer conference 2018. Smartly head of ANZ Marta Bonzanini (pictured below) discussed the integral role automation plays in the future of marketers and creatives. “If an ad is not performing as well as planned, you probably have some […]

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games
  • Technology

Messenger Launches Video Chat AR Games

For the moments when we can’t be together IRL, Messenger video chat helps you connect in real-time with the people you care about most. Chatting face-to-face live makes all the difference when you have exciting news to share, you need a study buddy for a big test, or you simply want to pass the time […]

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo
  • Media

Sphere Wins Stockdale And Leggo

Sphere snares Stockdale & Leggo business, which is a real estate group & not a simmer sauce as first reported on B&T.

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation
  • Technology

Aussie AgTech Start-Up Leads Global Farming Innovation

With Aussie farmers facing so many challenges, could the answer be Blockchain technology? Ranking top 10 at this year’s Overseas Talent Entrepreneurial Conference (OTEC), pitching against 32 other start-ups from around the world, Aussie start-up Agunity are leading AgTech innovation. Having won the right to represent Australia during Investible’s nation-wide pitch competition, AgUnity took to […]

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci
  • Media

Women In Media Profile: Carolyn Bollaci

Facebook's Carolyn Bollaci is the latest to sup at B&T's truth serum we prefer to call our Women in Media profiles.

by B&T Magazine

B&T Magazine