City Recital Hall, Sydney
07 May 2015
During her term, as Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth helped instigate paid parental leave, started a national discussion about pregnancy discrimination, campaigned against domestic violence, revealed the abuse of women in the Australian Defence Force and has created the Male Champions of Change, a group of 25 leading CEOs who have pledged to gender equality in their companies. She has also championed gender equality on the international stage and was recently recognized for this by Hillary Clinton.
In a frank conversation with Anne, Elizabeth Broderick reflected on her time in the role, the changes made and the changes still to be made to advance gender equity. She discussed the impact that domestic violence has not only on the lives of the victims and their families but the wider community and how it is an issue that we all have to confront. Broderick called domestic violence “the most significant gender equality issue in the world”.
Elizabeth and Anne were later joined on stage by two of the Male Champions of Change, Alan Joyce CEO of Qantas and Kevin McCann, Chairman of Macquarie Group. They answered a range of unscripted, forthright and often deeply thoughtful questions from the audience.
Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner with Male Champions of Change Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas Airways, and Kevin McCann, Chairman of the Macquarie Group
City Recital Hall, Angel Place, Sydney
Thursday 7 May 2015
Anne Summers: Well good evening, everybody. Welcome to this conversation event with Elizabeth Broderick, Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. I pay my respects to their elders past and present. This is, was, and always will be Aboriginal land. I’d like to thank the custodians for allowing us to share it with them.
Tonight’s conversation is the sixth in my series of conversation events which began about 18 months ago at the Sydney Opera House with a conversation with Julia Gillard, former prime minister. Since then, I’ve spoken with Tim Flannery, Cate Blanchett, General David Morrison, Adam Goodes and now tonight, Elizabeth Broderick.
I choose the people for these conversations because they are all incredible people who have done amazing things, and have something to say about the work they do. The reason I choose these people is not just because of the work they do themselves, because of what they add to the Australian story. So I would hope that at the end of this evening when we leave here, we will not only have learnt more about Elizabeth Broderick and the work that she does but we will have also learnt something about ourselves.
We wouldn’t be here this evening, if it were not for a piece of legislation. I know, it’s not often you get hundreds of people gathered in a place like this to talk about a law but we would not be here if it were not for the Sex Discrimination Act, which was passed by the Australian parliament and came into force on 1 August 1984.
It might be a little bit hard, particularly for younger people in the audience, to understand what Australia used to be like before we had federal anti-discrimination laws. When it used to be perfectly legal to advertise jobs for men only or jobs for women only, when it used to be perfectly legal to advertise differential salaries according to sex for the same job, when it used to be lawful to discriminate on all sorts of grounds against people just on the basis of their sex or their marital status or because they were pregnant.
We know that no law is perfect and the whole world hasn’t changed yet – and Elizabeth and I will be talking tonight about some of the things that still need to be done for us to achieve equality. The difference now is that those infringements are actually against the law, so this has changed the way in which we think about things. We have redress. We have ways of complaining if we are treated unfairly, if we’re discriminated against.
I just wanted to draw attention to a couple of people who are here tonight who had a very intense involvement in this legislation. First of all, Chris Ronalds SC who’s a Sydney barrister. Where are you sitting, Chris? Chris drafted the legislation, the Sex Discrimination Act. Back in the days of the Hawke government when you wanted to pass good pro-women, anti-discrimination legislation, what did you do? You got the best feminist lawyer in Australia, and you hired her if you were at the Office of the Status of Women as I was, though I came on board after Chris had already started her work.
She was responsible for the legislation, which of course has since been amended and some of the exemptions have been removed and the law has changed in all sorts of ways but its very solid basis was provided by Chris’s drafting.
Secondly, I would like to acknowledge Professor Gillian Triggs, who is the president of the Human Rights Commission, who is also with us tonight. [applause] Among her many credentials and the things to admire her for, Gillian is actually the boss of the Sex Discrimination Act and I guess you can say is Liz Broderick’s boss. If you make a complaint under the Act, it ultimately goes to her for decision.
The other thing about the Sex Discrimination Act which is incredibly important is that it established the position of Sex Discrimination Commissioner. We’re here tonight to speak with the current incumbent, Liz Broderick, who is only the sixth person to have been appointed in the 31 years since this legislation was passed. She’s held the position for eight years. When she retires on 4 September this year, she will have held this position longer than any of her predecessors. She’s done an amazing job.
I think we’re all here because we admire her. We want to hear more about what she’s done, what her ideas are about where we’re at and where we’re going. And we want to thank her for what she’s done.
So please welcome on stage, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick.
Welcome, Liz, and thank you very much for agreeing to be part of this conversation this evening.
I’m going to start my question with a few weeks ago, you were in New York, and you’re in the room when Hillary Clinton said; “There’s never been a better time in history to be born female.” I’m just wondering, do you agree with her?
Elizabeth Broderick: Absolutely, absolutely. I think sometimes that when we look and we say, oh, the progress of change is so very slow, we forget about it in a historical context. When I just look at my grandmother, the life my grandmother had compared to the life my daughter can have today, I just think and I stand in awe of the accomplishments of largely women that have got us to where we are today. So absolutely, I think there’s no better time to be born a woman in the world today.
And I do want to say while I can get it in as well. I’m so honoured to be interviewed by Anne, who is one of Australia’s really most influential gender equality advocates.
Anne Summers: This is not meant to be a love fest, okay?
Elizabeth Broderick: It will be. I just also want to mention one other thing. We’ve got Susan Halliday, previous Sex Discrimination Commissioner in the audience.
Anne Summers: Fantastic. Fabulous.
Elizabeth Broderick: Thank you, Susan.
Anne Summers: I think looking at the optimism that was the assumption of Hillary Clinton’s statement and you’ve just backed that up, I just want to first in this conversation, and we’re going to talk for about 40, 45 minutes and then we’re going to invite two of the Male Champions of Change from Liz’s organization to join us on stage and then we will have half an hour of audience Q&A at the end. That’s the way it will work. We’re just going to start off by talking a little bit internationally.
I spoke to Quentin Bryce [Australia’s first female Governor-General and a former Sex Discrimination Commissioner herself] the other day when I was talking with people for the profile of you that I wrote for my magazine, Anne Summers Reports. One of the points that Quentin made about you is that you value the role and the importance of international work. She said that she saw you as being in the tradition that other great Australian women like Jessie Street and Elizabeth Evatt for the work that you do. And I think as everybody probably would want to know that apart from the UN work that Liz does, she’s also an advisor to NATO and she’s on an advisory committee for the World Bank.
What I’d just like to put to you is that against the optimism contained in that statement of Hillary Clinton’s is the fact that in the past 20 years, there has not been a UN World Conference on Women. In the previous 20 years, there were four. Since Beijing, there has not been another conference. One of the reasons is that we’re too scared to have it because we know that some of the achievements of Beijing would most likely be rolled back, particularly when it comes to women’s reproductive freedom. So, how do you maintain that optimism that you have in the face of that situation?
Elizabeth Broderick: You’re absolutely right. That was one of the really depressing things just going back, looking at how far we’ve come from Beijing Platform for Action at the Fourth Women’s Conference. What we worked out is there has been progress. There’s been progress in the number of women in primary school education. In fact, now, boys and girls in primary school across the world, there is equality in primary school education. We’ve got more women stepping up as political leaders. Twenty years ago, 11% of the world’s parliamentarians were women. Today, 22% are.
There is some progress, but the fact is that the ambition of Beijing hasn’t been realized in the world, as yet. I think from where a number of us sit, we just think that to move forward, will take some different approaches.
Anne Summers: It’s also not only not moving forward, isn’t there the fear of moving backwards?
Elizabeth Broderick: There is. As you said, there’s been discussion about whether we should have a fifth world conference across the world, and Australia has been leading in some ways in this. We’ve been saying No. The trouble with having a fifth world conference is that we don’t think we would get the concessions from the governments of the world that we got 20 years ago. So, that’s pretty depressing.
Part of that is in many regions and coming back to Hillary Clinton’s comment, there’s no question that in Australia, if you’re born a female today, it’s better than any other time in history, but let’s remember that in some of the other regions of the world, some of the regions that are seeing moves back to religious fundamentalist ideologies which are excluding of women, that’s not necessarily their situation. In some ways, we talk about the Arab Winter rather than the Arab Spring in the United Nations because in many nations, it has put women’s rights back about 100 years.
Anne Summers: That’s a pretty grim assessment.
Elizabeth Broderick: It’s a pretty grim assessment but I have to say we’re at a really exciting point I think for gender equality across the world, because there was a commitment this year to an acceleration of Beijing, some of those ideals of Beijing. More importantly, as we look at what will replace the Millennium Development Goals which expire in September 2015, we have a new post-2015 Development Framework, which will include a number of what they’re calling Sustainable Development Goals. There will be at least one which will be stand-alone on gender equality, but gender equality will be integrated into every other goal. That’s pretty much being signed on to by 193 countries across the world.
I am optimistic but having said that, there’s so much work to do.
Anne Summers: There is. Just coming back to Hillary Clinton, one of the things that I find interesting about her is that she’s almost unexpectedly become a leader on gender issues, a global leader. I guess it started in Beijing when she made the very famous declaration that women’s rights are human rights. Then, in September 2012 when she ran a big APEC Women and the Economy Conference and she made what I thought was a very important speech there and she made a very important distinction, and one which I’ve relied upon a lot in my own writing, between “progress” and “success”.
What I thought was so interesting about that was that she gave us a framework for trying to make sense of the fact that lots of great things have been achieved and we’ve made a lot of progress but we’re not there yet, and that we could hold those two thoughts simultaneously. That was a very important theoretical construction I thought.
Thirdly, she as US Secretary of State made women’s economic empowerment a global policy goal of US foreign policy. Now that she’s a presidential candidate and a potential president of the United States she’s using women’s empowerment as one of her principal campaign issues. We’ve never seen anything like this before in the States. How do you feel this is going to impact in America – you spent a lot of time there – but also around the world?
Elizabeth Broderick: I think Hillary Clinton firstly stepping up and running once again as a president, and we’ll remember that she had a previous run at it but wasn’t successful. As she said when she stood down in favor of Obama, she said there are 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling, which I thought is a great speech if you get an opportunity to see it. She’s a great role model for me in that she has connected the empowerment of women with peace in the world. She understands that when we invest in women, we invest in communities and societies. We build strong economies. We propel the world. Actually that’s good for everyone. In fact, everyone lifts.
I think if she does win as President of the United States, not only will it transform the US, it will be transformational across the world.
When we think about it, even bringing it back to Australia, when Julia Gillard stepped up as our first female Prime Minister, young women across this nation could see what’s possible because I think we can’t be what we can’t see. Just being there, her being there would be a strong message to many young women across the world that we can participate at the most senior levels, at the highest levels. So I think that’s very exciting.
Anne Summers: Conversely if she loses, where does that leave us?
Elizabeth Broderick: Well, we need to go on a campaign. I met with the campaign manager when I was over in New York.
Anne Summers: Is that your next job, Liz?
Elizabeth Broderick: I don’t know. We will see on that. They were telling me Hillary is running a strong campaign around gender and what are the ideas and they wanted to have a good conversation about that. You’re right. If she doesn’t win, what does that message say? Particularly given that this is her second run at it.
I think as she says, we set goals. Sometimes for whatever reason, we don’t meet them. But it’s the fact that you pick yourself back up and you go for it again. You know what? We stand on the shoulders of so many great feminists, and you included, but feminists who actually have run into so many obstacles but went on to campaign for a better world for both men and women. I’m happy to stand on the shoulders of those who picked themselves back up. I’m sure that’s what’ll happen, but she will win.
Anne Summers: Well why spend all that money on campaigning and polling.
Let’s just move the conversation now back to Australia and to the areas that you’ve had direct responsibility for over the past eight years. You recently produced a report on pregnancy discrimination and I remember I was talking to Susan Ryan, again, for the profile I was writing of you. Susan Ryan of course was the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on the Status of Women in the Hawke government. She’s the one who introduced the sex discrimination legislation so she’s in so many ways the mother of this legislation. She said to me that she was absolutely shocked by your report because she said this stuff has been against the law for 30 years and yet it’s still happening and it’s happening even more than perhaps it used to.
What do you make of the fact that we have a law that says you can’t do it but they do anyway?
Elizabeth Broderick: You’re right. The law is strong in this area, but the fact is in Australia today we now know that one in two women will experience some form of discrimination, either when they tell their manager they’re pregnant, when they go on parental leave, or when they attempt to come back in some form of flexible work arrangement. That could be just either discrimination could take the form of demeaning attitudes about pregnant women, Oh there’s baby brain back in the office again! right through to the women that I met, this was in 2014, who said that they were confronted with the response which was, Well, it’s your choice, the job or the baby. I have to say I met a number of women where that had gone to a really tragic endpoint.
Anne Summers: What do you mean by tragic?
Elizabeth Broderick: Women would terminate a pregnancy to keep their job. This is in Australia in 2014. Susan is right. We’ve had the law but clearly the law is not enough. When we’ve delved into it, what we do know that often the discrimination, it’s not necessarily men discriminating against women. Often it’s women who are telling other women really, well, you can’t take that long parental leave. You need to be back here. It’s a very complex picture. Some of the worst stories I heard were where women were the managers. Sometimes they were women with children. What we do know is …
Anne Summers: Who hadn’t had the benefits of protection.
Elizabeth Broderick: They hadn’t had the benefits so: What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you do it?
Anne Summers: I thought your report and the speech that you gave when you launched it, I thought were very … You made some very profound observations. Something that I’ve noticed as being a theme throughout your working life because when you were a young lawyer at Blake Dawson Waldron as it was, Ashurst now, that when you first became pregnant and you had to basically figure out a way to keep your job and have the baby. I think you said two of your female colleagues were pregnant at the same time so there were three of you organizing it. For you, it’s been a very practical issue but it’s also the core issue for women, isn’t it? Because most women will want to try to have children and have a job. And if we can’t make this work, can we make anything work?
It is in some ways … I know we’re going to be talking about some other issues soon that are perhaps even more urgent… but this is one of those core matters that we have to get right if we’re going to have any chance of equality. Would you agree with that?
Elizabeth Broderick: Absolutely. I think absolutely. Part of it is this is not really just a women’s issue. Really the nub of it is the better sharing of paid and unpaid work between men and women. Because I always say if I could only do one thing to promote gender equality in Australia, it would be the better sharing of paid and unpaid work between men and women. Whether you’re a woman or a man …
Anne Summers: Why is that the one thing?
Elizabeth Broderick: Because if we had better sharing, say, of unpaid work and caring, it would mean men would be able to be more involved in the life of their children and their families, and women would have more time to also build their experience in paid work and their economic independence. In fact, everything would lift. In fact, the gender pay gap would narrow. It would have a lot of benefits.
The really I think important thing is that work and care should not sit at opposite ends of one hard choice. Caring for is most important work any of us do every day, it’s the ultimate expression of our humanity. We have to have workplaces where people can both work and care. I’m really excited about some of the developments that I’m seeing in this area, Anne. Having said that, we’ve been a long time trying to move this agenda on.
Anne Summers: You could say the same thing about sexual harassment, which has also been unlawful in the workplace and elsewhere ever since the Sex Discrimination Act was proclaimed. I think you’ve done three reports and other Sex Discrimination Commissioners before you. It’s probably the most reported on subject, I think, by the commission, yet it still constitutes 20% of all complaints. So what is it about? To me, sexual harassment is clearly an expression of hostility, of telling a woman that she’s not wanted and this is a way of letting her know that she shouldn’t be there. Why has it proved so intractable, so hard to get rid of this culture?
Elizabeth Broderick: Because I think at the heart of it is gender-based stereotypes. I think when we try to change the way we think about women the way we see them at work, that’s quite hard to change that. In fact, interestingly, I ran a focus group a couple of years ago now and it was with young women, about 20 young women under the ages of about 25. They were in their first or second jobs. I’d have to say in that group, more than half, even in their first or second jobs, had had an experience which I would characterize, as sexual harassment.
It was one young woman, she turned to me and said, “Look. Liz, I know if my uncle does it, it’s not okay but if it’s my boss or my manager does it, then maybe that’s just the way the workplace is and I’ve just got to learn to live with that.” I just think it’s such a depressing … sitting back saying for young women to actually believe that that’s what we have to put up with. No. We absolutely have a right to be free from any form of sexual harassment.
Part of the solution is bystanders, men stepping in when it’s happening because it is a gendered picture. It’s about men’s sexual harassment, largely of women, but men stepping in when there’s demeaning attitudes about women, when there’s the unfunny joker and just saying No, actually, mate, that’s not the way we do things around here, we don’t talk about women like that. There is more work to do …
Anne Summers: In fact, your most recent report or campaign, I think it was Drawing the Line, or Where to Draw the Line. One of the points you made in launching that, and you had the ACTU and I think the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry involved in that as well so you had employers and employees as well as the Commission, people don’t actually necessarily know what sexual harassment is. So there’s all this uncertainty not just about whether you should have to put up with it because he’s your boss but also, is it okay to like somebody at work? Is it okay to flirt with somebody? Maybe a lot of people do make lasting relationships based on associations that have started at work.
Is this an area that’s still very messy?
Elizabeth Broderick: It’s a very grey area, I think. Absolutely. The key to understanding it, is understanding that sexual harassment is about unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. It’s not about consensual flirting or consensual relationships. It’s about unwelcomed conduct. With that campaign that we launched, and the ACTU did a great job stepping up with us, as did ACCI. It was a series of posters and other things just asking, Where do you draw the line? For example, if you come into work on Monday morning and I say, “Anne, did you have a good weekend?” That’s okay. If I go on and say, “Did you get any?” At that point, you’re actually starting to cross the line. That’s where the grey areas are.
I think a national campaign around sexual harassment, working on respectful relationships in schools and other areas are all an important part of removing sexual harassment from Australian workplaces.
Anne Summers: So much of workplace culture, in certain industries especially, but I think in many workplaces, those sorts of conversations are what greases the wheels, this is how people talk.
Elizabeth Broderick: That’s exactly right. It’s the casualisation of conversation. The guy who is the unfunny joker, he tells a lot of sexualized jokes in the workplace and no one steps up to challenge him. Most of the good work that’s being done on sexual harassment now is about encouraging bystanders to step up because we know when the bystander intervenes, the behavior shuts down very quickly.
Having said that, a lot of sexual harassment happens behind closed doors, so it’s about strong and courageous leadership, good reporting and complaints systems. Unfortunately, I think it’s still going to be an issue for my successor as well, sexual harassment. Just as when I talk to Quentin Bryce and others, right from the beginning of the Sex Discrimination Act, this was a major issue in Australia.
Anne Summers: We’re not trying to be too depressed tonight and concentrate only the remaining problems but I think we do need to be realistic. I guess the other very important employment issue that’s also proved very hard to deal with is the gender pay gap, which I think has actually increased since you … not as a result of, of course, not your work.
Elizabeth Broderick: I’ve tried my best.
Anne Summers: In your time as commissioner, it’s now around 17%, 18% and it’s been that way for a very long time. What do we have to do?
Elizabeth Broderick: It’s an intractable issue. It’s complex. It’s hard. There’s no one lever you can move which will solve the gender pay gap because it’s a result of the fact that women are not promoted to the same extent as men, that women are in what we call occupational segregation, so are in lower paid employment. They trade off money for family-friendly work conditions. Not only that. The more senior you become, the research shows that it’s more likely that the gender pay gap is even greater. At senior levels, it could be up to 50%. You’re doing equal or comparable work and you’re being paid 50% less.
Part of the solution I see is for employers to step up and say, Look, one of the values we have in this organization is equality, inclusion and therefore, it’s our responsibility to make sure that we’re paying men and women equally for work of equal or comparable value. We are seeing some employers start to look at it that way because to rely on an individual woman, a woman who needs her job, who needs that income to put her hand up and say, ‘Look, I’m sorry but you’re not paying me the same’. What we know will happen from that is that she over time will be most likely ostracized and known as a troublemaker.
So I do think, once again, we need to be working but also good employers stepping up on this issue.
Anne Summers: In addition to the factors that you’ve mentioned, we do have documented instances where people graduating from university going to their first jobs, particularly in law, women are paid less from a standing start which is completely unlawful, and yet it happens. How do we, first of all, police that and secondly, stop it?
Elizabeth Broderick: At the minute, I suppose the data is quite a blunt instrument because that figure of 18% when you look at different sectors, different areas, there are different pay gaps. Some, government, for example, have a very small pay gap, almost nothing but when you go out to financial services and insurance, it’s one of the largest pay gaps so there is no policing of it at the minute. The argument is, well, the best female talent will go to those organizations that pay equally, but where’s the transparency around that?
Anne Summers: How do you know?
Elizabeth Broderick: In fact, in Europe, a couple of nations in Europe, the countries there, I can’t think exactly which one it is, Portugal actually. Under their law, for one month a year, every organization needs to publish – in a public area, being the reception area usually – the differential pay rates of men and women. How’s that? That’s an idea.
Anne Summers: With names attached? This is one of the problems that we’re all so secretive about. Unless you’re working in a public sector area where the salaries are known. In the private sector, there’s so much jealousy about who gets what …
Elizabeth Broderick: I think transparency would be a step there, but how do you do transparency without all the competitive issues and whatever?
Anne Summers: That’s a big subject. We’re not going to solve it tonight, but I think it’s important that we remember that it’s an ongoing problem.
I now want to move to another area, and I will read back to you a quote of yours. You said this, when we had our interview a few weeks ago: “Men’s violence against women is Australia’s most significant gender equality issue. It’s both a cause and a consequence of gender inequality.”
Liz, this is an extraordinary statement to make, to say that men’s violence against women is the most significant gender equality issue in the country today. Is this something that you came into the job believing or is this the conclusion that you have reached as a result of what you’ve had to deal with and observe over the past eight years? How did you come to make that statement?
Elizabeth Broderick: It’s definitely something that I’ve really started to understand at a much greater level while I’ve been in the role, Anne. I think it’s not just the most significant gender equality issue in Australia. I think it’s the most significant gender equality issue in the world. The reason I say that is that what we do know now is that there are more women living in an intimate relationship characterized by physical violence, which is just one aspect of violence against women, than there are malnourished people in the world. It’s 918 million, almost a billion women today, who are living in intimate relationship characterized by physical violence.
When I bring that back here to Australia, that’s 1.2 million women who are either currently or have recently lived in a violent relationship.
Just think about that. If you go to the Telstra Stadium or whatever, that’s the Telstra Stadium 10, 15 times full of women. In fact, here in New South Wales, last week, we had two women murdered by their intimate partner. We’ve had 34 women murdered by their intimate partner in the first 14 weeks of this year.
If there were 35 people being killed by terrorist attack or falling off a train or whatever, we’d be doing something about it.
Anne Summers: Why aren’t we?
Elizabeth Broderick: Well, I think why we aren’t or haven’t been up until now – because I do think we’re seeing a real shift in this – is because it’s an issue that has lived in the silence, it’s lived in the shadows. We haven’t been able to talk about it. Just to give you an example of that, I know when I went on my listening tour around Australia and I went …
Anne Summers: That was in 2008.
Elizabeth Broderick: That’s right, 2008, and I travelled to so many businesses. I travelled the length and breadth of Australia. When I went into business, I couldn’t even have a conversation about domestic violence. I could speak about sexual harassment. The minute I talked about domestic violence, it was like, whoa, that’s a private matter between him and her.
And now… Just yesterday actually, I gave an address at the National Conference for AIG, the AI Group who are a big employer organization, and the thing that most people wanted to talk to me was about domestic violence as a workplace issue. It’s shifted. It’s absolutely shifted. I think what we’re seeing is that we now have the language to talk about these. We’ve got Rosie Batty out there and how fabulous is she? We’ve got so many great survivors of domestic violence, police commissioners, people coming out – not just to tell their story but to put this issue front and centre on Australia’s agenda.
Anne Summers: We’re going to come back to the subject of domestic violence as a workplace issue when the Male Champions join us on stage. For now, I just wonder what your feeling is about the way in which we’re handling it at a more general political issue level in Australia today. At the time when, as you say, there’s never been more consciousness of it, the figures have never been worse. We do have that Counting Dead Women website which brings attention to it, which is great. We can’t run away from the facts, from the incidence.
At the same time as the Prime Minister’s lauding it, the Prime Minister is meeting about it, services are being cut back. People, particularly our political leaders, seem to be saying, Well, let’s just work on prevention but we’re not going to worry about services.
How do you judge the way in which the national conversation and the national action on this at the political level is going at the moment?
Elizabeth Broderick: I think at the political level, we did see a pulling back from it, but I think we’ve seen a reengagement in the last few months. You’re absolutely right. The fact is you can’t just work on prevention without continuing to fully fund services. I visit many women’s refuges around this country and the fact is one out of two women every night is turned away from a woman’s refuge, so they are absolutely running full throttle. That means they need to continue to be adequately funded. We’ve seen some funding come back into the women’s refuges, but just to focus on prevention by itself is not enough.
I’d love to see a day where we didn’t need to have women’s refuges, but the fact is from where we sit today, we absolutely do. They’ve never been needed more and they need to be properly funded. Also, the great women – and it is largely women that do that work, in the community sector who do work in the domestic violence – they need to be properly paid as well. [applause]
Anne Summers: Hear! Hear! As I said, we’re going to come back to the subject of violence. Just before we bring in our champions on stage in about five minutes, I want to visit another very big area of accomplishment of yours, Liz, and that is the work you’ve done with the Australian military, with the Defence Force. You of course were brought into this area by Stephen Smith who was the Minister for Defence. I think it was in April 2011 after the so-called Skype scandal at the Australian Defence Force Academy. He asked you to report into that, and also report into the broader military as to the situation in women and what could be done about it.
I guess what I wanted to ask you is not so much your findings – anyone can read your reports, excellent reports on that work, on your Human Rights Commission website. I’m very conscious of two things that came out of that work you did. One is it led to an ongoing program of change in the military, I think, called Pathways to Change, which I think was partly your creation. But more than that, it led to incredible engagement of some of the military leaders and David Morrison, the Chief of the Army, being a classic example. I spoke with him on this stage just a couple of months ago. He said to me that his encounter with you changed his life and made him see things differently.
I’m just wondering whether or not this work changed you in any way.
Elizabeth Broderick: Absolutely. Firstly, it’s been such a privilege to do the work because when I started off, everyone said to me, You know what? You’ll never find out anything. The military will shut down and you won’t find out anything. I have to say it’s been exactly the opposite. I’ve had such incredible unparalleled access to every area of our military, because we went about it in a way where the military leaders and my team, and I’ve got a fabulous team in this area, were able to work together to really build a more inclusive culture. But it has changed me, the military, because it is different work.
How has it changed me? I think it’s made me more confident because my situations you drop into, you know what the rules of the game are. You drop into a boardroom, you know what the rules are. You drop into women’s refuge, a school or whatever, you know how people are going to be. You drop into a submarine for a few days or you drop into … You’re in your Blackhawk flying beyond the wire in Afghanistan to a forward operating base with gunfire and missiles and whatever. You don’t know what the rules are, except to keep your head low in your combat gear.
I think for me, it taught me that I can have confidence that I will be OK in the moment there, that you can be reasonably courageous. I think it’s taught me courage. Also, some of the conversations or situations I found myself in, can be quite hostile because you can imagine, there are a lot of people in the military … not a lot, actually a few, who think that women have no place in Australia’s military.
For example, they’ll say things like, well, Ma’am, if you want to get rid of sexual assault in the military, get rid of all the women. You’re thinking, Oh, actually, I don’t know many women who sexually assault other women, so if I was going to get rid of sexual assault, I’d get rid of all the men. The fact is you have to always be on your toes and that’s the gift of the military back to me.
Having said that, you know what? I have met some of the most impressive Australians I’ve ever met in Australia’s military, really incredible. Lieutenant General David Morrison is one example, but many, many others. It’s been a great gift. I now can sit with discomfort. I know what it’s like to be seasick in a submarine that’s going 60 degrees on the surface. I’ve learned a lot about myself.
Anne Summers: I think it’s very interesting. This work that you’ve done with the Defence Department is really quite remarkable, given… I remember when the Act was first introduced and I was running the Office of the Status of Women at the time and I headed up the Interdepartmental Committee that had to sit down with Defence because the initial legislation exempted the Defence Force from having to employ women in combat or combat-related areas. This meant there were actually fewer women employed by Defence than there had been before the Act. We had to sit down and go through 17,500 job designations to work out which could be done by women. Amazingly few could, as it turned out.
To go from that situation of absolute hostility and the law being on the side of barring women from participating, to progressively reducing that so that you now have no restrictions at all and women can now be employed in all combat positions – not that they are necessarily doing that as jobs but there’s no legal impediment to it anymore – that is a remarkable change in a relatively short period of time.
What I thought was amazing was the young girls that you talked to, the young soldiers who endured such shocking harassment, sexual assault and what have you, that you heard their stories and you decided that one way of using that story really was, this thing that you had of bringing it “from the head to the heart” (as you like to put it) was forcing the chiefs of the military to hear what was happening on their watch with their young soldiers who happen to be female.
Where did you get the idea from to do that?
Elizabeth Broderick: I think it came from the fact that as my team and I travelled around and we’ve been to 60 military bases now, women would hear we were coming on to the base and then they would ask to see us one-on-one. Often, we heard fabulous stories about the military. We also heard enough deeply distressing stories, stories that had never been told before, that, yes, while we could put it in our report and table it, I started to understand that it wasn’t just me that should hear the stories. It should be those who had power to create change in the system that heard the stories. In that way, we could engage them not just through their heads but also through their hearts. We could get a deep emotional engagement.
With that in mind, I flew in women from all over Australia and I asked them to bring a support person and many of them chose to bring their mothers. You’ve got to love those mothers, they were so fantastic to come. So that the chiefs could hear. And it wasn’t about forcing the chiefs, it was about reaching out to them and saying, Look, I want you to come not as a military leader. I want you to come as a human being who cares deeply about the organization, to listen to another human being who loves the military as much as you do, for whom service come at an unacceptable personal cost.
I still remember that first session and I often talk about it. It was a situation where I had David Morrison, because I knew he was someone who would be deeply concerned about this. He was sitting uncomfortably in his chair over there. The mother was nervously escorting her daughter into the room. We had the box of tissues in the middle, and me sitting here thinking, Oh my god, this was a good idea when we thought of it, but how are we going to kick this conversation off?
And actually, it was the young woman, that courageous young woman. She turned to the chief and she said, “Sir, I am so nervous.” He turned to her and he said, “You know what? I’m scared too.” I just thought if you’ve got a military leader and particularly a Chief of Army who’s been and seen so much, if he’s prepared to admit that he’s fearful about what he’s about to hear then we really have a chance at changing here.
I have to say I’ve been so inspired by what I’ve seen in the military because in those sessions, and we ran many of them and they’re still continuing through the DART [Defence Abuse Response Taskforce] process, there’ll be 700 of those sessions. That’s changed the energy in the military. I know from my work in NATO that there’s no other military that thinks as much about the treatment of women, about building an inclusive culture, about ending sexual violence in conflict, than our Australian military. That’s one of the things that makes me really proud. Not only that, how many militaries are in a partnership with a Human Rights Commission?
Anne Summers: Exactly.
Elizabeth Broderick: How many militaries across the world? Show me the militaries…
Anne Summers: How many heads of the military are members of the Male Champions of Change which is my segue point for welcoming to the stage two members of Liz’s group that she’s going to describe to us in a moment how she came to set it up. I’d like you to welcome on stage, Alan Joyce and Kevin McCann.
I’d like to introduce Kevin McCann who is the chairman of the Macquarie group. This is Alan Joyce who is the CEO of Qantas Airways. They are both members of the Male Champions of Change, and they have very generously agreed to take part in the conversation with Liz and myself this evening.
I’m going to start off this section of the conversation by asking Liz: what it was that made you decide that this organization was necessary and how you went about starting it.
Elizabeth Broderick: Thanks, Anne. I suppose you could say I was a bit of a slow learner actually because I came into my role believing that it was women’s activism and women working with other activism that was going to continue to create the change because, let’s face it, it was women who got us to where we are today and I’ve always been very in favor of collective action by women. But I started to understand that, if we rely solely on women to change the status quo, it’s really an illogical approach because in most nations, and Australia is one of them, in fact nearly every nation, it’s not women who hold the levers of power.
If you look at where power sits in nations, it sits in the hands of men. If you look at where power sits in organizations, it sits in the hands of men.
So if we want to create change, we need powerful and decent men stepping up and taking the message of gender equality and women’s leadership to other men. That’s really what’s going to create the change. Not doing it in a way that’s trying to save us or speak for us. No. This is about men stepping up beside us and actually taking responsibility and accountability for moving forward on gender equality.
Anne Summers: I’m going to ask Kevin because Kevin was one of the first people that you approached. You were very early adopter of championing so I’m just wondering, Kevin, what Liz said to you when she approached you that you found … what offers she made you were unable to refuse.
Kevin McCann: Those of us that have worked with Liz know that she’s a very persuasive person. I was in her second cohort. Alan I think was in the first brigade. I got approached after the organization has been set up. She basically said, Look, I know you’ve been working in the women on boards space, but I’d like you to come on a new journey which is women in leadership in corporations and in government. She outlined the facts of the situation in 2010, I think it was, and it was as bad as it was in women on boards in 2008. So she painted a challenge and I stepped up and came on board.
Anne Summers: Perhaps Alan your situation is a bit different. You’re a CEO. You actually directly run an organization, as opposed to Kevin who’s a chairman. By accepting the challenge from Liz to be a Male Champion, you were making a public commitment to change Qantas. Is that the way you interpreted it?
Alan Joyce: That’s right, Anne. I think one of the things, given my background and where I came from in Ireland, working class background, gay man that runs a big organization, diversity for me has been a big passion and I could see the needs and the ability there for us to do these things differently in Qantas. And I’m a big believer in the business case around diversity, tapping into gender diversity in particular and the benefits it can give your company, the benefits it can give society and what that generates.
One of the things, I think you have to meet at whatever company you’re in is understanding what the benchmarks out there are, what other people do, what other people have learned from, learn from other people’s mistakes, learn from other people’s successes.
One of the amazing things that Liz has done is to have got this great group of CEOs. You think of the major companies in Australia, today. We have Telstra, CBA, ANZ, all of the major companies that have had and tried different things and Qantas has tried different things, and get them into a room to say: What’s worked, what hasn’t worked, what can we learn from each other, what can we apply, what can we jointly do, what can we jointly approach? It was hugely powerful. That’s what got me interested in it.
Liz, I can say the same as Kevin, she’s a phenomenal salesperson. She does a great job at saying and creating a vision. She’s a phenomenal leader because she understands how CEOs want to compete. We’re a very competitive bunch as you can imagine.
Anne Summers: Because you’re men.
Alan Joyce: Probably. She figures out how she can make that work to advantage. It’s one of the most phenomenal task focus groups that I’ve been on, and it’s thanks to Liz’s passion, Liz’s drive, and the great collection of people that she’s been able to pull together that I think it’s been as successful as it has been.
Anne Summers: Some people are a bit sceptical about the Male Champions of Change. One of the reasons is because, what you do happens behind closed doors as far as the public is concerned. This is a great opportunity for you to be a little bit more transparent and to perhaps share with this audience. Perhaps Liz you could guide the conversation at this point, because you know more about it than I do. Can you give us some examples of some practical things that have happened in your organizations as a result of your membership?
Kevin McCann: I can start with a few things. The first is that we decided we would influence the ASX [Australian Securities Exchange] to publish diversity statistics which had never been published before. The ASX which had been very reluctant to get involved in what they saw as a social issue which was a bit surprising. Anyway, we persuaded the ASX that this actually was very relevant to the organization. We now publish statistics on diversity in our organization. That’s taking it out of closed doors. We’re now publicly on display as to how many women we’ve got on our boards, our executive committees and our senior ranks of women.
We publish those statistics on an annual basis. People can compare what we’ve done. We moved the needle up by saying, just last year, that we would also spell out targets. People put their targets in different ways. Some do it in numerical metrics. The company that I chair prefers to have what we’re aiming to do and then you can measure our performance on a year-by-year basis. That’s a very visible thing.
What I think Liz has achieved is on all our board agendas. Any major company today, the directors discuss diversity. They challenge management. We look at the statistics and we are working hard to see that we are getting more women in corporate leadership.
Anne Summers: We’re going to in a second move on to the meeting that you all had with Rosie Batty and Kirsty McKellar. Just before we do that, Liz, perhaps you could quickly guide us through the decision that apparently was made at your meeting yesterday about the Panel Pledge and explain that to us.
Elizabeth Broderick: I think one of the things, and you’re right, Kevin and also Alan, is that the men are more bold in the collective, so we’re seeing so many different bold strategies. All Roles Flex is a great example. For the men are changing the starting point of work, David Thodey [CEO of Telstra] started by saying every role in the organization will be available in a flexible work arrangement. That’s a starting point. Then, it’s for the manager to argue why it has to have been done a different way otherwise.
The Panel Pledge was what we talked about yesterday and we said there’s been a couple of instances where the Panel Pledge hasn’t really worked out in the way that we thought.
Anne Summers: Can you explain what the Panel Pledge is?
Elizabeth Broderick: The Panel Pledge is that all the Male Champions have agreed that if women are to progress to higher levels, then they need to be visible. We worked out that the men between them speak at about a thousand events a year from aviation to finance to technology and that every champion, before they speak, would ask the question, say, “I’m a male champion, I want to know what type of gender balance do you have on your speaking panel on your conference?” At least that’s putting it on the agenda, and then the man can decide whether or not he’s prepared to speak. If they come back and say, well, no women, then clearly there are going to be some further questioning and whatever.
We’ve had that in place. What we worked out, and we worked it out yesterday because Ian Narev from CBA said he had agreed to step up and speak at an event. He said, look, I’m a male champion so we need to have good gender balance. When the event came to fruition, the women that they had asked weren’t available and a whole variety of other excuses. We’ve changed it now. We’re saying, well, yes, I’m a male champion. I’ll agree to speak at the event tentatively, and I need some gender balance but I will be confirming with you a few weeks before the event that I will be your anchor speaker or whatever it is. There’s a greater incentive for the conference organizer to really step up on this.
The other thing the men decided was that we would write to every conference organizer, a group letter from the men just saying, look, as male champions, please if you want us to speak at your events, we need to speak at an event which has a level of gender balance.
In that way, that’s really opening up good opportunities now for female speakers to step up, be seen and therefore start to build their profile.
Anne Summers: I’m sorry to cut you off, Alan, but I do want to move on to the violence at the workplace issue and I’m very conscious of the time. Perhaps you could start on that subject. What Liz did was she brought Rosie Batty and Kristy McKellar to a meeting of the Male Champions, and forced you guys basically to listen to stories of abuse in the way that forced David Morrison to listen to stories of abuse in female soldiers.
Elizabeth Broderick: I didn’t force them, Anne. I invited them, lovingly invited them.
Anne Summers: Sorry, invited them. Persuaded them. Alan, could you perhaps give us some idea of what kind of impact that meeting had, those conversations had?
Alan Joyce: I think hearing it firsthand from somebody who has gone through something like that is very stark. It’s very real, and it’s something that you’ll always remember. It’s something that always has a big impact on people, particularly for people who have large female workforces as we do. We know that domestic violence can be a problem and there is a problem in the workplaces, a problem for all of our employees everywhere. For hearing the stories and hearing how it impacted the individuals, hearing how that had an impact on them as individuals and the life and the trap and the environment that they were in, the lack of hope that was there associated with it, it was unbelievable.
I think it focused the issue in a lot of the CEOs’ minds that, what can we do to be supportive of any of our employees who are going through a similar position? A lot of the companies have employee assistant programs. We’ve got 30,000 people working in Qantas as an example. Every type of problem you can imagine that happens in society would happen in a workforce that big. For having an understanding of what this issue was like, its impact on the individuals brought home and to make sure that we were all looking at all of our employee assistant programs, all of the assistance we were giving to see what’s a robust and what are the type of thing that was needed in order to help.
How do we make sure that we bring this up? Allow people to have the ability to communicate and feel that they can prop their hand and ask for help, because that was the other part, that I think was a bit shocking around this.
Having those real life examples I think just make a big difference in terms of people’s focus on this, and in terms of people’s actions to make things happen and change things in businesses.
Anne Summers: Liz, from your point of view, was it a successful meeting?
Elizabeth Broderick: Absolutely. It had significant impact. You can’t help but be impacted by the personal story.
Anne Summers: Can I just interrupt for a second? You told me this story that Rosie Batty and Kristy, they were telling stories of being impacted at work. It was all about workplace, the impact on being a working woman and experiencing violence.
Elizabeth Broderick: You’re right. Rosie, she was interesting. She said to the men, she said, “Look, prior to Luke’s death,” – her son’s death and her son was murdered by her husband – “…prior to Luke’s death, no one wanted to hear my story of living with violence. Now everybody does.” I think we all took away from that that when women living with violence speak, whether it’s in the workplace or in society, the system doesn’t listen. So what is it that each of us can do?
Kristy was a great one. She talked about the fact she shared an office with another woman. She was running quite a large team. Her husband used to pick up the phone and abuse her down the phone and he did this on this occasion, swearing and whatever and when she put the phone down, the woman beside her said, “Oh, my god. We shouldn’t have to deal with clients like that.” She said, “That was not a client. That was my husband.” At which point, the woman just turned away. She didn’t know what to do with that information. She wasn’t a bad person at all. She was a good person, but a person who didn’t know what to do with that information.
And as we know from the research, the fact is that depending on the response a woman gets when she first discloses in the workplace, that will be determinative of whether she ever discloses again.
So I think these are all the issues that all the Male Champions started to understand at a deeply personal level, and we saw such great activity in terms of paid domestic violence leave which the union movement has done a great job on as well. Policies, the ability to change telephone numbers, change work locations, go to their kids’ schools to make change. We saw a whole lot of activity, not just to support women living with violence but also to try and understand, OK, we’ve got perpetrators in our workplaces as well. What is the intervention that we as business people can actually do there as well?
Anne Summers: What is it?
Elizabeth Broderick: That was understanding. We talked about that because often, you’ll see levels of abuse in the workplace that might just be verbal abuse. Often when you look into greater aspect of that, the fact is that person is being violent back at home as well. Then, we talked about men’s behavioral change programs and things like that. The jury I know is a little bit out on that, but the fact is that we need ways of dealing with both perpetrators and victims and just eliminating the perpetrator from the workplace, which we see often happens, often can lead to a greater incidence of violence in the home. That’s the complexity of the issues, which I think we all understand a lot better now.
Anne Summers: Alan and Kevin are willing to answer questions and of course Liz is. Do we have a question?
Female: Do you see any opportunities for change in one of the biggest employing sectors in Australia which is the SME sector, small- and medium-sized enterprises, where it can be extremely difficult as an individual to negotiate gender equality issues. I was wondering what you may have done over the last eight years in that sector. For the gentlemen on the panel, I wanted to ask where you see opportunities for large organizations or large corporations to achieve change in SMEs that might be suppliers to your businesses.
Elizabeth Broderick: I think in your question there, you’ve actually hit the nail on the head in terms of also using the leverage of the Male Champions down the supply chain. I think we worked out we have got 50,000 suppliers.
Alan Joyce: Take Qantas for example. One of the great initiatives that came out with Male Champions of Change was what we call the supplier multiplier effect, which is saying for all these big companies, you actually are dealing with a lot of small companies around Australia. If we regard diversity as a real important item that could we put that into work procurement policies? We do now have a procurement policy that says diversity is important to Qantas. It’s important to Telstra. It’s important to a lot of these companies. That if you don’t have an approach to diversity, then we will look at that as part of our decision to make our purchase decision.
Think of us as a company. We have a $16 billion purchase power – $4 billion on fuel – but $12 billion and mostly in Australia, mostly with small companies. We alone deal with 30,000 different suppliers, mostly SMEs. So that gets people to pay attention. The reason why we’re doing it is we’re now trying enforce a mentality or an ethos of people. What we believe is that the suppliers that we’re dealing with, if they are embracing diversity, they’re better suppliers. They’re better companies, better businesses. They more represent our customers. They more represent society. They’re probably going to be the people we want to deal with, and that’s why we think that’s important from a business point of view.
Kevin McCann: I’ll just add a footnote to that. That is a very good initiative, but 70% of the Australian economy is SMEs in the service industry. A close family member of mine worked for one of those. I assumed everyone in Australia got parental leave. Well, I discovered to my amazement that if you’re not covered by an award or you’re not working for a corporation that provides parental leave, you don’t get it. Secondly, you’ve got no assurance that you’ll get your job back once you’ve taken the unpaid leave.
I’m afraid there’s a lot of gaps and if it’s a local coffee shop or a local vet practice or some other doctor’s rooms, we haven’t got the leverage to influence their behaviors. I guess that’s probably on our work task list.
Elizabeth Broderick: Yes, just something else to do. You’re right. We now have a national paid parental leave scheme. Irrespective of where you work, you will … If you make the work activity test, you will get paid parental leave.
You’re absolutely right. We have done a number of our reports looking at SMEs. Actually in pregnancy discrimination, you’re better off in a small organization than a large, which I just found counterintuitive, but it speaks to the fact that many small organizations run like extended families. We know where everyone is at. We try and accommodate them. Whereas you can be lost in a large organization, even if it has good family-friendly policies.
Cecilia: My name is Cecilia and I work with the Commonwealth Bank. My question is around women in leadership. We often talk about giving women more visibility or putting them forward for promotion, but what about the psychological component of that and the personal feelings of guilt and the never-ending balance? How do we support women to deal with those kinds of issues within themselves, to have the confidence to be able to stand up and to have that visibility and to put their foot forward?
Elizabeth Broderick: You’re right because it goes to all the conditioning that we have as women: how we see ourselves, our place, our role in caring and all those other things. Also, because in a workplace, we’re not necessarily part of a dominant grouping, we’re the non-dominant so therefore we possibly feel less confident about putting ourselves forward. So I think it is about helping by role modelling. You can’t be what you can’t see, so we need a critical mass of women at the more senior levels because then we believe we can do that. It’s also working with women to build confidence.
The other thing about it is, it’s about changing the system as well. It’s also a system that’s deeply rooted in a male norm, a male way of being, and because women don’t necessarily fit into that, it unintentionally excludes women. So I’m not a big one in favor of fixing women. I actually think we need to fix the system. Women are doing very well as they are, thanks very much, and they’re not men and that’s a whole case for diversity. They are different, and that’s what we should celebrate and rejoice that men and women are different, but we need a system that allows women and men to thrive to the same extent in organizations. I have to say that’s still a work in progress.
Cassandra: Hello. My name is Cassandra Scott and I own my own business. My question is to the panel at large about your thoughts on the financial incentives that women are presented with in the workplace, when they have children and the way that taxation is treated with childcare and nannies and all of the other various options. I wonder what your thoughts were.
Kevin McCann: This is one of my hobbyhorses. I actually made a submission to the Productivity Commission who completely rejected it. I find it incredible that in 2015, women can’t claim childcare as a work expense; the fact is that if you aspire to leadership, you need a home-based childcare. Community childcare just doesn’t work because if you’ve got a leadership role, you are going to be asked by your employer to work from time to time non-flexible hours and you’ve got to be prepared to do that but you do need someone at home to care for your children. That is something we need to do something about, in order to help women get to leadership.
Elizabeth Broderick: Watch the [federal government’s] Families Package when it comes out. Let’s see where the government goes with it. We’ll see details of it released over the next little while. I think it will include regulated in-home care which is what Kevin is talking about. There’s still a strong place for family-based childcare, community-based childcare, those types of things. But you’re right, it needs to be financially attractive for women to return to work, and, to be honest, if you’ve got three kids unless you’ve got the CEO’s job, it’s not really financially viable to be stepping back up. They’re the issues that I think are in the mix. I think we’ll see some movement on that over the next few weeks.
Sophie: Hi. My name is Sophie and I’m a student in Glenaeon Rudolf Steiner School doing my HSC. For my Personal Interest Project, which is about 4,000 words, I’m investigating, How do youth perceive feminism? In particular, I was wondering if Anne and Elizabeth have noticed at all if online harassment has gotten worse or harassment in general in conjunction with being a feminist, has gotten worse due to the internet, or whether it’s more profound now, if they know anything about that.
Elizabeth Broderick: You know what? We need a feminist internet, I think. That’s one where it’s safe for everyone but particularly, it’s safe for women. But you’re right, I think there’s so much that’s great about the internet in terms of empowering women. When I go into the United Nations, the World Bank and I speak to women from African nations about mobile technology, they have access to services that they never would have before. The mobile phone now is now a store of value for most women. They have their own money, everything is on their mobile phone. There’s so much that’s positive.
The other side of it is that technology, and particularly mobile technology, is a new medium for harassment and violence against women. If you talk to anyone here who’s in the domestic violence sector, what we do know now is that technology is being used to control women, to track women. If you put into Google ‘Stalk my wife’, you get millions of hits. It’s an experience I think that many women talk to me about in refuges. They might even find a safe place to live and be from their ex-partners but, within a few minutes, their partner is walking in front of their house. How did that happen? Well, it happened because GPS technology is in the kid’s toys. It’s on the car. It is a double-edged sword.
The other issue around it is of course that the number of mobile phones held by women as opposed to men is much fewer. In fact if I look at developing nations alone, 200 million less mobiles are in the hands of women than men and not only that, the ones that are in the hands of women are not fully functioning internet accessible mobiles.
It’s a mixed picture, but I think we should step up and claim the internet. Use it in a way which is based on feminist principles and particularly those principles of respect.
Sophie: Thank you very much.
Michelle: My name is Michelle. I work for PWC. I was wondering if you have any thoughts on the issue in the gender pay gap where most of the traditionally women’s roles in caring industries like teaching, childcare, age care, are lower paid and how we start to change that so that the pay gap changes.
Alan Joyce: That’s a difficult one. We have the same problem I suppose, when you think of the airline and the range of different roles that you have from pilots who get paid a lot compared to what cabin crew get paid and compared to what customer service people get paid. I think the secret for us is to making sure that women in each of the individual categories are getting paid the same as the male equivalent. We monitor that in particular. We find that the gap is very small. It’s within a couple of percentage points. The secret is to encourage more diversity in those jobs that there is a bigger market and a big pay for it.
We’ve recently appointed the first female chief pilot in Australia’s history, Chief Pilot for Jetstar. She’s a great advocate, encouraging females to become pilots. Our percentage of female pilots is very small. Our percentage of female cabin crew is very large. On average, it looks like we’re paying women a lot less. In each category, we’re not. The secret is to encourage women to have the aspiration to want to do some of these jobs in which there is high technical competence levels and a high pay associated with it.
Having role models like a chief pilot out there, similarly in engineering, we had our best apprentice of the year two years ago was a female and she’s going around the schools to get young girls interested in engineering, so they can become engineers in an organization. I think that’s the way we break that down.
Elizabeth Broderick: Plus, we need more men in caring roles, in a sense, because you’re absolutely right, it’s about the historical undervaluation of women’s work. That’s why caring roles, teaching, nursing, community sector work is all paid less. If we really change that balance, we need, as Alan says, more women in more technical roles, more men in more caring roles. We need to lift it up so we don’t have the occupational segregation that exists in Australia today.
Anne Summers: Which is encapsulated in the expression, ‘woman doctor, male nurse’. You don’t say ‘woman pilot’. You don’t say ‘male engineer’. In certain jobs, certainly in the caring professions, if a woman does a job that’s normally done by a man, we make a big deal out of it. I think we should stop doing that.
Anna: Hi. I’m Anna and I go to St. Scholastica’s in Glebe. I’m a boarder from rural New South Wales from a very small town. I was just wondering if you believe these conversations need to happen in rural Australia where the stigma and the culture of sexist attitudes are still very evident, and are still largely happening behind closed doors.
Kevin McCann: I could make a comment on that. I’m proud to say that the Macquarie Group has a very large agricultural division and the leader of that division is a woman. She has decided to establish her headquarters outside Sydney. She’s going to Orange for, I forget whether it’s livestock or agriculture, and she’s going to Albury for whatever, one of each in each city. I think that’s the way we can change attitudes. She’s got obviously a pretty dominant male workforce. A lot of her investors would be males from offshore, but I think by that kind of initiative, we’re demonstrating that women can take roles in rural life.
Elizabeth Broderick: You’re absolutely right. I agree with Kevin, but I also agree with you. We should be stamping out sexism wherever we see it. We do that, as part of what Kevin says, is by seeing women in every geography in Australia at decision-making levels. So whether it’s in agriculture, livestock, whatever in rural areas that powerful positions in the community will be held by women, equally with men. I meet many women when I go into rural areas. Often they have moved to a rural property because their husbands have … The property has been handed down to their husband. They might have a PhD or whatever but they can’t find appropriate employment in that community and area.
I think it is about using technology again to open up opportunities for women to step up in their careers irrespective of where they’re located. Also, it’s incumbent on all of us to call out sexism and sexist behaviour, not in a confrontational way, but in a way that helps people understand that sexist attitudes constrain everyone. They limit all our opportunities. We don’t want them to be part of our education system for boys and girls either. Good on you and that’s a job that you can do in your community as well. Good on you.
Teela: My name is Teela. I would like to thank Anne first for her acknowledgment of country. I’m a descendant of the Wiradjuri and Wailwan people. My question is for you, Liz. It relates to the intersectionality of race and gender. You haven’t spoken about it much tonight but in terms of where we need to go for Indigenous women, who make up 34% of the incarceration rate, of those women 80% of those in prison are young Indigenous mums. Since 2008 in the state of Western Australia, the incarceration rate of Indigenous women has increased by 576%.
I want to know, in terms of us changing the system, what do you think from your experience, what you’ve seen: How do we change it? Where do you see the change needing to be made in terms of getting our women into jobs and being – you know – the first Indigenous CEO of Qantas?
Elizabeth Broderick: Absolutely. Good on you. You’re up for that. Good on you because you make the very valid point that not all women come from the same base. We’re starting from different points. When we look at discrimination, we don’t travel just as a woman. We’re either an Aboriginal woman or … Maybe you’re a woman with a disability. What we do know when you look at the data and the research data that often it’s much more difficult when you have intersectional discrimination to actually find particularly work opportunities and work promotions, as you say.
One of the things that I think has been really exciting, I’ve done a lot of work with Aboriginal women. It’s been one of the great joys of being the Sex Discrimination Commissioner both here in Australia … sorry, here in Sydney, but also working with fabulous Aboriginal women in different communities. Particularly I’ve done a lot of work in the Fitzroy Valley with 52 communities around there.
Education is a starting point, I think. Some of the programs that I’m excited about is Jack Bancroft’s program AIM, which is helping to work with Indigenous students and other university students, mentoring programs, programs which show just what the potential is. Not only that. Where those people who can open up pathways for Indigenous and particularly Indigenous women, can step up and do that. There’s great program like Big Sister and other programs like that as well.
I think there needs to be more of those programs, but I think it starts with strong, young women like you stepping up and saying, You know what, this is what I want and how can you help me get there? Good on you for stepping up. Thank you.
Anne Summers: I’ve got a problem. We’ve got a lot of people wanting to ask questions and we’ve got five minutes left. Trying to be fair to everybody, I would just ask if you quickly as your question and when you ask all the questions then we’ll do our best to respond to the questions that have been raised. I hope you think that’s a fair way of doing it. I’m thrilled there are so many people who want to ask questions and such involvement, but we cannot go over time. Please ask your question. Make it as brief as possible and we’ll respond to them en masse.
Female: At the start of this year, I made the decision to start working for myself because I was sick of the pay gap, despite being only 26. I just wanted to know: How can we reach out and empower those women who are self-employed when they’re not necessarily in a boardroom or in a corporation?
Female: After the treatment of Julia Gillard, what do you think needs to occur to encourage another woman to run for PM? Thank you.
Female: Do you believe the current government reflects a misogynistic attitude which is hindering the development towards creating gender equality?
Ella: Hi. I’m Ella. I’m a year-7 student. I was just wondering, how you were talking about how you explained things to all the work members in different groups of people? Would you explain these things to kids? If so, how would you do that?
Phoebe: Hi. I’m Phoebe. I’m from the Central Coast. Similarly I find myself in my Year 11 economics class often ostracized by the snide comment directed at me or on the sly by both male teachers and the students because it’s a male-dominant subject. You guys were talking about the workplace. How do you find that it is being launched on the school environment? Is anything being done to prevent early discrimination to prevent it from happening later on in life and also helping to strengthen the confidence of young women like myself?
Nikki: Hi. My name is Nikki. I’ve personally been harassed due to my gender in my past two jobs, both by men and women. What’s your advice for women experiencing shame and guilt in relation to that experience and how do we actually make both those men and women accountable for their actions?
Ashnesia: Hi. My name is Ashnesia. I’m actually from a medical research background. I just had a quick question: I just recently read that in the Victorian government, they’ve got a plan to have equality of women and men. By 2018, they want to make it 50/50 in both government boards and also councils. I just wanted to get your opinion on what you thought of that happening in New South Wales, not only in the government setting but would that happen in businesses, larger companies like Qantas? Do you see that happening as well?
Jen: Hi. My name is Jen. The establishment of organizations such as Male Champions of Change and HeforShe campaign, has resulted in the promotion of male feminism. Do you believe that this works towards the restructuring of the anti-male stigma attached to feminism?
Olivia: Hi. I’m Olivia and I’m a student from St. Scholastica’s College in Glebe again. I’d like to ask, how do we stop the stigma around the word ‘feminist ‘within youth?
Anne Summers: Last question.
Lana: Hi. I’m Lana. I’m actually kind of going off on what all the students said. I’m a teacher at a co-ed school. I’m dealing with the same thing basically, noticing a lot of sexism, within the schoolyard and not getting a lot of support from my senior staff on how to deal with this. I’m wondering if you guys have any tips for all teachers who want to deal with this.
Anne Summers: If I can try to distil a large number of really incredible questions, and I think it really shows the level of engagement and interest and desire for change, which is very, very heartening. I think there are a couple of common threads to the questions. One is: it’s happened to me. What do I do about it? How do we make the people who do it accountable? How do we stop it at a young age in schools? How do we stop kids learning sexist behavior? How do we make it more acceptable for men to identify with feminism? And are strategies, such as quotas like Victorian government has adopted for boards and the judiciary, interestingly? Are they good strategies? I hope I covered most of the ground.
Elizabeth Broderick: What about entrepreneurs, how to deal with females in the workforce?
Anne Summers: We’ve only literally got about two minutes left. If part of answering … dealing with the problem is identifying it, at least we’ve reached that step. Liz, would you like to make a global comment about what you have heard?
Elizabeth Broderick: My first comment would be they are amazing questions and I have no doubt that the future of the feminist movement and the future of Australia is in such capable hands when I hear questions like that from incredible women. That’s my first observation.
My second, if I maybe just move to the feminism questions. Yes, there is some … I think for many young women who talk to me that they don’t identify with the word feminism. They identify with the feminist principles. Do you believe that you should have control over your own body? Do you believe that you should be paid equally? Do you believe that you should be able to live without violence? Do you believe that you should be able to work and care? They’re all the things that the feminist movement is about.
I think if you believe in those things, it doesn’t matter whether you describe yourself as a feminist or not. You are living by feminist ideals.
When it comes back to the point about men and feminism, one thing that’s been really clear to me is that, yes, since Beijing, we’ve made great progress in terms of, as I said, primary school education, women’s access to healthcare, some more women at parliamentary level but the closer we get to economic power, the greater the forces of exclusion are. Indeed, if we want to keep making progress, we need some disruptive and controversial strategies. We very much need to see men as equal partners with us, in creating a more gender equal world.
I absolutely agree that men coming on board and subscribing to the feminist principles, not coming on board as a separate men’s industry sitting over here but actually sitting within the side the women’s movement, the feminist movement, is absolutely critical to us moving forward, I think not just here in Australia and globally. They’re the comments on feminism. I don’t know whether I can do it very quickly …
Kevin McCann: I’ll be very quick. I want to live in a country that’s inclusive. I don’t want to live in a country where women can’t achieve their full potential. I want women leaders in my business and I welcome you with open arms. Don’t be put off by the discrimination of getting in economics. We want all the good economics students we can get irrespective of gender.
Anne Summers: Alan, 50% quotas at Qantas.
Alan Joyce: First of all, I have to say I think they were fantastic questions as well and the passion and the drive to get things changed I think is held by the young people in this room that want to see that change in the country. I’m not a big fan of quotas. I think they’re the worst thing that you could do because I do think it should be on merit. I have to say if there were quotas on individual categories, it would allow people that are sexist, homophobic to say that’s the reason that person got the job, is because of quota. It wasn’t because of ability. I think that would be the worst thing for the cause that anybody could do.
Elizabeth Broderick: For the record. I’m in favour of quotas but no, I take your point.
Anne Summers: We’re going to need another half hour to discuss this. That’s actually the subject of another conversation.
Alan Joyce: I was going to say one other thing for the lady who says she wants to be the first Indigenous CEO of Qantas. I think Qantas is one of the best meritocracies you can imagine. A gay Irish man is the CEO of Qantas means that one day, there will be an Indigenous woman that will be the CEO of Qantas, and I think that’s a great fit.
Anne Summers: I’m very, very sorry to be the person to have to cut this off. I regret very much that we are constrained by the timetable. We’ve already gone a bit late. I just want to really thank everybody so much for being here. Thank you to the wonderful audience. I want to thank our sponsors, EY and Qantas. These events are very expensive to put on and we couldn’t do it without your help, so thank you very much.
I really want to thank our Male Champions, Alan Joyce and Kevin McCann for being brave enough to come here tonight. I want to thank Elizabeth Broderick for everything she has done for women and for Australia and for the world over the past eight years. I particularly want to thank her for what she’s done for me by giving her time and her talent to this conversation and to the interview she gave me a few weeks ago. These events raise money for my magazine, Anne Summers Reports. If you haven’t seen it, just Google it. You’ll see a very long profile of Liz in the current issue that I hope you’ll find interesting. I think Liz found it a bit surprising. She read a few things she didn’t know.
This is the way we do these conversations. They’re intrinsically great in themselves but they are there to raise money for what I hope is very good journalism. The speakers in these conversations do not ask for nor are they given a fee. As a way of expressing appreciation for their time and the generosity, Liz, we’ll make a donation to a cause that you think is important.
Liz and I discussed this on the phone this morning. What she has asked us to do, and we will do of course, is we will make a donation to Rosie Batty, a personal donation, not to her foundation. The Australian of the Year job does not come with a salary. It’s a job because of who she is and how incredibly effective an advocate she is for the cause of violence against women. She is in such constant demand that she is talking all the time and not earning any money as a result because she can’t work because of the demands of the job. I think Liz has set a very important example by … This is a donation to her personally to support her work. I will encourage anybody here who feels the same way to do the same. We will be making a generous donation to Rosie Batty.
I’d like you to join us in thanking Elizabeth, Kevin and Alan.
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