At Grace Papers, we welcomed the summer break as a time for reflection, relaxation and reconnection. We also took advantage of the quieter period to reimagine our vision for the future of work ensuring that technological advances and workplace transformations advance the agenda of gender equality, in particular for working parents.
Our vision is for a world in which women and men are equally responsible for the most important decisions made; where women can realise their full professional and personal potential without experiencing discrimination; where men can be vulnerable and combine career and care; and a world where work is compatible with the modern lives of families.
As with many terms in the diversity and inclusion vernacular, ‘empowerment’ can be simultaneously overused and misunderstood. But in our work, empowerment is the action at the heart of the social change. Empowerment underpins our vision and requires us all to play our role by:
building awareness of the challenges
crafting a vision for change
articulating the social transformations required to achieve that vision
celebrating the success stories and nurturing that growth.
Celebrating a decade of growth towards gender equality
At the advent of the last decade, we cheered the introduction of legal protections for those with caring responsibilities to seek workplace flexibility and were buoyed by the focus on the director’s responsibilities in advancing gender equality on ASX Boards via ASX Corporate Governance Principles.
We also enthusiastically welcomed the introduction of Australia’s first paid parental leave scheme, and saw a remarkable increase in the education and awareness of pregnancy related discrimination and sexual harassment and assault through the Human Rights Commission’s National Enquiry, Supporting Working Parents – Pregnancy & Return to Work Report and the #MeToo movement respectively.
And as we closed out the decade, our voices got louder and our hope for change strengthened through the #MeToo movement, women’s marches and corporate action on gender equality.
But there’s more work to be done, and we need our leaders to choose growth.
“Half of all diverse employees stated that they see bias as part of their day-to-day work experience. Half said that they don’t believe their companies have the right mechanisms in place to ensure that major decisions (such as who receives promotions and stretch assignments) are free from bias. By contrast, white heterosexual males, who tend to dominate the leadership ranks, were 13 percentage points more likely to say that the day-to-day experience and major decisions are free of bias.”
– Matt Krenz, BCG Partner in HBR
We are impatient for changes to workplace systems that will harness the full professional potential of women, and we must empower workplace cultures to recognise the contributions of carers regardless of gender.
For as long as:
just 5 percent of men take parental leave,
just 6 percent of ASX CEOs are women,
we have a gender pay gap of 14 precent,
1 in 3 Australian women over the age of 15 experience physical violence,
Indigenous women are 32 times as likely to be hospitalised due to family violence as non-Indigenous women, and
1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men experience some form of pregnancy related discrimination,
our work is far from done.
In 2020, we ask for more from our leaders – actions that reflect an understanding that gender equality is both the right thing to do, and makes good business sense.
We all have a role to play
We’re on a mission to change that: to close the gender pay gap; for equal paid parental leave regardless of sex or gender; to eradicate gender based discrimination and to dismantle the power imbalances that continue to enable sexual harassment and to see our Indigenous sisters living free from violence and afforded human agency.
In doing so, we stand on the shoulders of giants – women and men who’ve advocated tirelessly for change, and we learn from the lessons that history can share with us – what worked, what didn’t, and we create the space to continue to reimagine a world that reflects our vision.
Which means we’re here for you – our tribe, our customers and our partners. A sneak preview of the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – each for equal – is a reminder that people are at the heart of social change and each and every one of us has a role to play. As the inimitable and always inspiring women’s rights warrior Wendy McCarthy always reminds me, ‘influence is what we have when we don’t have power’ and through our model of empowerment we want to help each and everyone of you to be the influencer of the change you need to see in the world in order to be the best version of yourself in this life.
A gender lens on bushfire disaster recovery
Finally, and as we head into more challenging weeks for so many communities, I want to acknowledge the very real struggles tearing our communities apart and offer our support to all those affected.
Through the lessons from Black Saturday and other disasters, it’s important that we brace ourselves for what is yet to come and apply a gender lens: we know that in devastation and disaster-recovery, women’s health and security is not only affected by the direct impact of disasters, but also the in
creased risk of domestic violence, child abuse and divorce in the wake of disasters. To that end, we are committed to taking the learnings from history, and working with our partners to prevent the tragedies that have unfolded in the past.
What’s your #2020Vision?
What’s your #2020vision? To us it seems to be a number, a year that commands balance, and to achieve that requires us all to get clear on the values that enable us to balance our heart’s truest desires. With those desires forming your #2020vision, you can then consider how to use your influence to be part of the extraordinary human rights agenda for change we are so proud to be joining you in this year.
So as we head into this new year in earnest, be safe, be mindful, and take some time to visualise how you want your values and vision play out this year. Will your mantra be grounded in growth or safety?
Warmest wishes for 2020,
CEO & Founder