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Women and Influence
04 July 2013
When it comes to acknowledging women’s achievements publicly, the space is crammed with awards – for business.
That’s an important avenue of recognition, however, the one-dimensional nature of the scene has produced a skewed view of women’s influence.
To redress the balance and fill the void, Westpac and The Australian Financial Review joined together to breathe fresh air into the marketplace with the launch in 2012 of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards. In scope and quality, they are unique.
I’ve been involved with women for more than 20 years in what’s now termed “women’s wealth creation”.
Providing information, education and networking opportunities for women and ensuring finance is accessible to women, supports the growth and development of the world’s largest economy: the “Female Economy”.
What I’ve learned in my role is that women want two things: respect and equality.
I can also safely say: women do a lot more than work, which is why the awards showcase and acknowledge the influence women have – and the major contribution they make – as agents of change in the workplace, personally and in their communities.
Rightly or wrongly, we are the mainstays of family. Our role often extends into our communities where we perform in a volunteer (and sometimes paid) capacity: running school canteen and reading groups, for example, or ferrying kids to Saturday sport, and looking after our parents. (We’re also much more likely to be found working in the not-for-profit sector.)
Our competing responsibilities have both positive and negative effects on our careers, on our abilities to achieve anything resembling work life balance, and on the way in which we are viewed societally.
As one of our 2012 alumni – board member Brenda Shanahan – recently pointed out in an article in the AFR about carers with careers: “Isn’t it time to stop penalising professional and managerial women for having children and start paying parental leave like a workplace entitlement – not a welfare payment?”
For confidence and self worth, as well as for credence and credibility on the wider public stage, acknowledgement of the influence women exert personally, in family and community, and in the workplace, is vitally important.
So, where in the scheme of things are women being publicly acknowledged for the influence they exert outside business?
The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards are the missing link.
Covering 10 categories – Board/Management, Public Policy, Diversity, Business Entrepreneur, Young Leader, Global, Local/Regional, Innovation, Philanthropy, Social Enterprise – the award’s comprehensive coverage of the spaces in which women work, as well as how they exert influence, identifies 10 women in each category, producing 100 outstanding alumnae a year.
We’re already on our way to exponentially increasing that existing alumnae.
Standouts from 2012 received much deserved media coverage and were featured on Westpac’s Ruby Connection, the online networking site for women. They included Board/Management winner, AFL Commissioner Sam Mostyn; Social Enterprise dynamo – and our overall 2012 winner – Jan Owen from Foundation for Young Australians and Young Leader Marita Cheng, the go-ahead robotics engineer and founder of Robogals.
From judging panel and prize pool to the networking opportunities surrounding the awards, I think people have come to expect something extraordinary from brands such as Westpac and The Australian Financial Review, which is why we developed our 100 Women of Influence awards.
Nominate yourself or someone you know and help build the pool of great talent, click here…