For Accor’s International Women’s day program I was involved in a panel session on the theme #balanceforbetter. Hosted at the Novotel in Creek Street the event saw about 100 employees from Accor properties across Brisbane join together to discuss gender equity and diversity in the workforce.
The panel of five had four women, two Indigenous women and one man. We were invited to discuss our journeys in the workforce, women who inspire us and how we can prevent sexism in the workforce. Whilst we still talk about how much further we have to go, it is important to take stock of how far we have come. To have two Indigenous women on a panel of this calibre is exceptional and a testament to the work that Accor do to strengthen diversity in the workforce.
There was much discussion around maternity and paternity leave in the workforce. It reminds me of when I was getting married and had to resign from my position in public service. I was getting married, not having a lobotomy! It is amazing to think that this was only a couple of decades ago. How fast things have shifted – can you imagine telling your staff to quit because they are getting married?!
The other topic for discussion was how our journeys have shaped our view and why gender equity is still important. For me, growing up a woman’s role was in the kitchen. My mum worked hard in domestic jobs, and that was her aspirations for me too. But I wanted to be a teach or an air hostess – I just loved the hats. Attending uni was not an option, a consideration or a thought pattern. With my first job it defined me, my mum was proud of me in her own way, but not like you see now.
Now we are seeing a wave of strong women, studying later in life, changing career paths, breaking barriers and redefining what is possible. In my role I get to see some incredible female tourism operators, business owners and employees. But there is still a gap.
For my granddaughter, I want her to grow up in a society where she is valued the same as a male, where she earns the same and has the same opportunity – where her merit takes her where she deserves to be.
So where to from here? Well the way I see it we are slowly building a movement in the right direction. But cultural protocol and societal norms are still keeping us in a pattern of behaviour. It’s time to shake things up, to make a conscious effort to ensure equity across our businesses, our operations and our decisions.