A warm celebration and discussion of female empowerment at Cafe Sydney
This International Women’s Day, CreditorWatch is holding celebrations across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane for our clients and esteemed women in the finance and media industries. The Sydney team kicked off the series of events with a lunchtime roundtable at Cafe Sydney on March 8.
In his welcome speech, CreditorWatch CEO Patrick Coghlan said: “This is the first International Women’s Day event for CreditorWatch, but most certainly won’t be the last of initiatives we deliver to champion women in our business and industry.”
Moderated by freelance business journalist, Ali Cain, the group was joined by CreditorWatch staff and special guest speakers to discuss timely topics affecting women in business today, including the gender pay gap, gender balance in leadership positions, and how COVID-19 has changed businesses and workplaces forever.
- Nerida Conisbee, Chief Economist at REA Group
Nerida is the Chief Economist for REA Group and one of the leading property market experts in Australia. Nerida is also a columnist for The Australian and Mansion Magazine, and a regular contributor on Sky News, Channel 7’s Sunrise and ABC News Breakfast.
- Nadine Blayney, Head of Content at AusBiz
Nadine has been covering business and finance news since 2005 when she moved to Australia from her native Canada. In 2007, she was part of the launch team for Sky News, and in 2010, was appointed Head of Content at AusBiz TV.
- Leah Gibbons, Executive Producer at AusBiz
Leah has spent the last decade covering content ranging from business and political news to sport and entertainment across two continents. She is currently Executive Producer at AusBiz and skilled in live broadcast, live event producing, editorial and media relations.
Female underrepresentation in business
According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women earn on average $242.90 per week less than men. This isn’t the only area women aren’t being recognised.
- According to the Panel Pledge, it’s estimated less than 15% of panellists in Australia are women, and less than 12% of experts cited in business newspapers are women.
- WGEA 2019-2020 data shows only 18% of CEOs in Australia are women.
- The Australian Institute of Company Directors states more than a third of ASX200 boards are still at less than 30% women.
Nadine: “It’s surprising the pay gap is still so big. Transparency in business is key in closing the gap.”
Leah: “Communication is key. As strong women, we need to be vocal. Speak up if you are experiencing a pay gap. Don’t be ashamed or worried. Know your worth.”
Nerida: “The government can put a gender pay policy in place, but it all comes down to corporate Australia. You should have a woman on every panel event. The Panel Pledge means different people with different perspectives can share their thoughts. It’s opened up the conversation about a lack of diversity in public forums.”
Fighting for diversity in the workplace
IWD stirs up the debate on whether quotas are needed in Australian corporate business and politics to achieve a gender balance. This works well for European countries like Norway and France where more than 40% of board directors are women.
While quotas would ensure women are fairly represented in the boardroom, is it insulting we need quotas in the first place? Or will they affect the appointment of the right people for the job, based on merit?
Nerida: “Personally, I think quotas make sense. It’s just not beneficial for a company to only have people from the same background.”
Leah: “I have mixed feelings about quotas. They get a bad wrap. It might feel you’re just creating a quota only to meet a goal. But, on the other hand, women are getting overlooked for roles. There would need to be regulation to ensure quotas are being implemented correctly.”
Nadine: “At AusBiz, we think of diversity as a whole, not just a balance of female and male. Diversity is part of the business’s DNA and we’re proud to be female founded and led, so we’re very diverse-conscious.”
ABC News Business reporter and presenter, Sue Lannin, also spoke up at the lunch to discuss the ABC’s recent initiatives to improve representation of women.
“Having Ita Buttrose as our chair has been great, and there are also many women in management within ABC News. Gender representation is also core of our 50:50 Project that strives to develop more content that women find relevant, and boost the contribution of women across our stories,” she said. “I believe quotas are the way to go because it [equal female representation] hasn’t worked voluntarily.”
Final words from wise women
Meaningful discussion was free-flowing over three courses, and some of our guests reflected on their own career and shared their final thoughts on what needs to be changed for the future.
Mitchy Koper, CreditorWatch GM Communications and Marketing: “I have fought for my place in the world. I worked in a very male-dominated industry and it wasn’t easy – sometimes I felt there was no way forward. But there was, and I found my voice. Being a journalist was the best foundation for me.”
Nerida: “There are lots of female economists at university, but they drop out mid-career. How do we help women continue their career from start to finish?”
Leah: “We need to spread the support – from the top to the middle and the bottom, and at home.”
Natalie Ledlin, Solicitor Director at Ledlin Lawyers: “People see me as a role model and I need to live up to that. I’ve always been supported by men, but when it comes to the legal profession, it can be a boys’ club. When it comes to recruitment, we need to change the unconscious bias.”