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Woman's journey to leadership - barriers to progress

04 April 2018

Good Housekeeping4

For only the second time in its history The National Press Club of Australia has a female President. She is journalist Sabra Lane. (The first female correspondent to become NPC President was Gay Davidson. She held the position from 1985 to ‘87.)

This year, there will have been eight addresses by women by the time we reach April. (There are 20 scheduled meetings so far this year.) Eight out of 20 is not quite 50/50, but 2018 is still fresh and the NPC tends to do upward of 60 events in a year.

On February 7, this year, Irene Natividad (above), President, Global Summit of Women, spoke on “Are we There Yet? A Global Look at Women’s Journey to Leadership”. The stats she brought to her address left room for hope but were also a sincere wake-up call. We do not have anything near gender parity in many, many areas, and certainly not in leadership. That lack of women in leadership means the path for women leaders remains difficult because, as Irene pointed out in her address, “You can’t role model what you can’t see”.

(As for diversity inside parity, that is an issue she acknowledges still needs to be tackled.)

Delivered with humour and great passion, Irene’s address is available as a transcript from the NPC.

Quoted here from her NPC address is a smattering of the things women can’t see in the world:

Women leading countries - of the 193 nations of the United Nations nine have female leaders. That’s less than 10 percent.

Of small businesses globally, only 30.7 percent are owned by women. In Australia only three percent of venture capitalist funding goes to women owned/run companies.

Of the top 100 ASX listed companies, 10 have female CEOs. In the US, 27 of the 500 largest US companies have female CEOs.

Here, a little of what women can see:

Australia is the only country to have the Male Champions of Change.

The ASX is the only stock exchange to have gender diversity as a listing requirement

40 percent of privately owned companies in the US are owned by women – they generate two trillion dollars annually and hired 9 million people nationally.

Women can bring about change by boycotting companies and changing their bottom line influencing them to change their policies.

Based in Washington, D.C., Irene (among other things) is the force behind the 28-year old Global Summit of Women. Informally called “The Davos for Women” by past participants for the calibre of its attendees and presenters, as well as its mix of business and government leaders, the Summit will be held in Australia for the first time ever. The Summit commences April 26.

Ann Sherry, Executive Chair, Carnival Australia co-chairs the Planning committee with Lyn Lewis-Smith CEO, Business Events Sydney. Ann is also on the International Planning Committee. The Summit will bring together 1000 delegates, 90 speakers, three Heads of State, 20 Ministers from 60 countries and cover topics in women’s leadership development; entrepreneurship; societal and business issues. There will also be opportunities for networking and connecting with industry, government, private and public enterprise, as well as philanthropy and social enterprise.