Minister for Women, Prue Goward has invited me to be on the panel of judges for NSW woman of the year awards this year.
Awards like these are really important in helping foster better journeys for businesswomen. I recently had the pleasure of hearing the business journey from a woman who built the path I now walk on - Ita Buttrose. We've come an enormously long way since Ita commenced her career in 1957 (which at 70 years of age, is still going strong). For those of you who aren't familiar with her, here are some of her career highlights:
- Ita started Cleo magazine.
- She had her own magazine, titled Ita.
- Ita is still the youngest person to ever be appointed editor of Women's Weekly, which was during her reign per capita, the largest-selling magazine in the world.
- Ita was appointed Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph in 1981, making her the first female editor of a major metropolitan newspaper in Australia.
- She has been awarded an OBE, OAM and the Centenary Medal.
Trailblazers like Ita broke ground for women in business today in innumerable ways from choosing to go back to work after getting married (yes, after being married, not after having children) to providing Australian women with a frank source of information on female sexuality through Cleo magazine.
Although we've come along way since then, we've still got a great opportunity to make the journey for business women even better. And we need to do this because the numbers show that we're still a long way from where we should be. More than half of Australian university graduates are females, and almost half of the Australian workforce is female. But the Equal Opportunity for Women in the workplace Agency's 2010 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, conducted by Macquarie University, shows:
Women hold only 8.4% of board positions and 8% of Executive Key Management Personnel positions. There are just six female CEOs and five female chairs in the top 200 Australian companies. Even more alarming is that only 4.1% of line roles are occupied by women, those which are largely considered to be the pipeline to the Executive Key Management Personnel and CEO roles. There has been no increase in these figures since 2008. The proportion of companies with no women board directors has increased from 51% in 2008 to 54% in 2010. The proportion of companies with no women Executive Key Management Personnel has declined slightly to 61.9% from 65.1% in 2008. Compared with New Zealand, UK, Canada, US and South Africa, Australia has the lowest percentages of women in the most senior positions.(Note that this report is only carried out every 2 years, so we'll see the next one this year!).
Some of the opportunities to make change come from recognising differences. One of the differences we've discovered is that women the world over are not great at owning their achievements, especially in the workplace. Women will say "I was lucky" or "I had a great team". An award like this is a chance to help make a change in this area by publicly congratulating a woman on her journey and achievements to date.
Entries close at midnight on 23 March 2012 and the award will be presented during the month of May (date yet to be confirmed). If you know an amazing woman or you are an amazing woman, please nominate now! I'd love to see applications from some 22michaels readers :)