Women To Watch: Sheebah’s George McEncroe

Women To Watch: Sheebah’s George McEncroe
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At B&T, We are staunch believers that every woman and her achievements should be celebrated, every day and always.

However, unfortunately, the achievements of women often go unnoticed. That’s why we launched our annual B&T Women in Media Awards – to recognise the amazing accomplishments of women across the marketing, communications and advertising industry.

In honour of our WIM Awards, we’re chatting to industry powerhouses; women we should all be keeping an eye on — women to watch.

Today, we are hearing from Sheebah founder, George McEncroe.

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B&T‘s Women in Media Awards are important because they acknowledge women’s stories and how they are told. The idea that the male view is the human view has long created poor laws, poor infrastructure and unjust economic citizenship. Women telling the story changes the story, the focus and adds a new authority to women’s experiences.

I also think the WIM awards are important because it shines a light on the biggest impediment to equality in the workforce, which is the refusal of our community, and by that I mean our intimate ones such as our families, as well as our schools and childcare centres, to demand that men be accountable for the children they bring into the world. Until men know where the lunch box lids are and the school calls Dad first to say that someone has a fever and needs to be picked up from day care, the enormous unpaid emotional labour that is critical to raising a civil society, falls to women.

I’ve come across plenty of champions of change, but Ken Lay (AO and former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police) is one of the most radical feminists in the world. I have been fortunate to be at several functions with Mr Lay and heard him say things so profoundly true but so consistently denied by men, that I have hardly been able to contain my emotions. At one White Ribbon event I recall him saying “Not every man abuses the woman in his life, but every man who is abusive, honestly believes that every other man does; that’s why we don’t laugh at jokes that discredit women and girls. That’s why holding men to account matters.” For a man who had been in such a conservative profession, who had spent all his life in a very male dominated sector, I think Ken Lay is a most extraordinary unexpected male champion of change.

I wouldn’t be where I am if it weren’t for the incredible and influential people in my life,  including Mrs Rye. She was my grade 4 school teacher and she made me want to be the best version of myself. She was consistently kind, calm and expected us all to be hungry learners. Mrs Rye also had a great back story having once been a nun who left the convent and married a priest. Grade 4 was the most exciting academic year of my life apart from perhaps the year I studied Women in Shakespeare at Monash University.

One final word, and something I think every woman should know because it was the best piece of advice I was ever given: make sure you get paid. For many years I was doing events and writing things or MCing functions and the client would tell me there was “no budget for you sorry.” A friend in the comedy scene told me to start asking questions. So I started asking if the lighting crew was being paid, if the caterers were being paid…then the conversations started to change. Suddenly there was money and if there wasn’t money, as in if everyone was actually giving their skills and resources away, then I didn’t feel taken for granted. Best advice I ever had. It taught me that “afford” is a very elastic term and who asks gets paid.

Financial literacy is overlooked in the education of women. From age 15 girls should be learning about superannuation and interest rates, how to avoid afterpay and other instant gratification junk purchases. I’m much better at getting paid now but it took a long time. I have actually written down phrases for my kids for them to use on the phone to finally get paid by the parents who underpaid them for babysitting. It’s a matter of finding a phrase and repeating it. Reading it out if necessary. But until you can say things like “unreasonable” and “my time” and “that wasn’t my understanding” then it’s really hard to begin the money owed conversation. But authority is like a muscle and the more you use it the bigger it gets. We need to talk money early, not as an end in itself but so that we take charge of it and not the other way around.

To get paid what you are worth you have to have some sense of what you are worth. If you’re not in a very regulated sector that can be hard. But having a frank conversation with your employer and yourself is the first step. How much do you love this job? Are you growing? Is it giving you a wage that seems close to some of the skills that you can see have a set value (say managing people) and then work out the things that are non-negotiable.

The only thing you ever regret is being gutless. Well, it’s one of the only things.

Quickfire question

If you were PM, what law would you change/introduce right now to improve equality?

If I was the PM right now I’d hold a royal commission into the monies owed to custodial parents by former partners who have just stopped paying child support. I’d billions in add family lawyers and forensic accountants to assist anyone who doesn’t have the means to track the money. This is an investment in accountability and in children. It would also stop tax payers carrying the cost of parents who just want to start over.

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