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Calling on all the good guys out there – we need your help!

Last week I attended the Women in Banking & Finance luncheon in Sydney as a guest of Pottinger where The Hon Joe Hockey, Shadow Treasurer, spoke about climbing mountains – personal, professional and physical (last year Hockey climbed Mt Kilimanjaro raising $1.5m in the process for the Humpty Dumpty Foundation)

Hockey’s wife, Melissa Babbage – who is a senior executive with Deutsche Bank – was in the audience and Hockey also spoke of the mountains she’s climbed to get ahead in her career, and of the challenges of combining parenting (they have 3 young children) with two high profile careers.

In sharing some of these stories, Hockey proved that he’s a good guy – that is, he’s a bloke who understands the issues women face in advancing in their careers.  Many men do.  I’m wondering how much credit we give the good guys though – and if we could work with them more closely to get the support we need to negotiate workplaces and roles that enable us to meet all our life goals.
 
We all know the stat – just 8% of executive and board positions are held by women. Which means that 92% are men. 92! Put like that, it becomes screamingly obvious that we must must must engage men to get ahead in our careers.
 
When I reflect on my career, the majority of the people who have stuck with me and introduced me to power players and opened up opportunities for me have been good guys. And the further up the ranks you get, the greater the majority of men, the more critical it is to find these good guys and secure their help in meeting our goals.
 
This quarter for the first time we’ve opened up Ascend registrations to men too, and are inviting our members and attendees to ‘bring a bloke’ with them. Whether it’s a co-worker, a compliance officer, a gender diversity officer or an employer, we want the good guys there so they can get an insight into the challenges women face day to day in forging ahead in their careers.

Ascend is a unique event where women make up the majority, set the agenda and work on the areas they have identified are important for them to develop.  The good guys that are attending have their sights firmly fixed on getting the balance right at the top – which means finding and keeping the best women on their teams.
 
And just in case you were wondering why on earth a man might step into a room of united powerful, brilliant women I asked one of the men why he was attending. Andy Turnbull is the CEO of Sports Hydrant, and is involved in leading the push to raise the profile of women’s sport. When I asked him why he was coming along, he said:
 
“’The Ascend program is designed by women, for women, and based on feedback from women. At the Sports Hydrant we are trying to raise the profile of women’s sport. Sport was designed by men, for men and is usually based on feedback from men. I need to learn from my target market not the people who are running something completely different.”
 
Doesn’t that sound familiar? If you know someone else who is involved in leading an industry designed by men, for men and shaped by male feedback (so most business) then invite them along – I reckon if we can find a way to all work together, we’ll have more chance of cracking the code on this important issue for every business.

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