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What pushes your buttons?

Last week my favorite newspaper column featured a story of how one bank is tackling its gender imbalance at the top.  A head of diversity and inclusion has been appointed and a forum for 300 of the bank’s executive women was convened to signal a commitment to change the bank’s gender profile.  Sounds like good news, right?  So why was I so riled to read the article?

Part of it was to do with my general skepticism of the media.  Through research and the forums I facilitate, I’ve developed a deep understanding of the various women’s programs taking place in different organisations.  By my research and estimates, this places the bank in question at least a decade behind two of its major competitors when it comes to inclusion and the advancement of women.  So why – I questioned – was a laggard being held out as the benchmark?

Go beneath the waterline though, and a bigger driver was my own personal experience and observations of the culture and internal workings of this organisation.  You see before I was a SheEO, I spent 15 years working in finance and consulting and I’ve worked in one capacity or another inside most financial services organisations in Australia.  In this particular organisation, as recently as last year, I’ve observed a blokey culture that is far from gender inclusive.  I’ve was spoken over in meetings, my opinions were discounted as being too different and I received commitment from team members in meetings that were abandoned shortly thereafter.  Once I was even privy to a leadership debate in which the gender mix at senior levels (or lack thereof) was attributed to the failure of the few female executives to succession plan with other women.  Never mind that about 90% of the executives were male; it was clearly the fault of the other 10% who had failed to advance their sisters!!  Needless to say, I’m not working with that client any longer.

So although it’s good news that this Bank is finally acting, it’s long overdue by anyone’s measure.

But it really got me thinking:  is gender equity a key factor for women in evaluating employment options?  I asked a recruiter friend of mine who specialises in executive placements, and she thought not.  She said that – particularly for senior roles – women asked more questions about their remuneration than the organisation’s reputation for supporting women.

So I wonder, to what extent is the advancement of women in an organisation an employment driver for you?  Have you left a job because of chauvinistic attitudes and workplace culture?  Or have you considered it?  Would you truly rate one organisation over another because of the way they look after their women?

I believe these questions hold the key to our ability to influence culture and attitudes towards women within organisations.  So please click here to go to our “tick a box” survey and tell me what pushes your buttons.  Or post your comments here on the SheEO Blog.


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