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Women in business bringing balance to the workplace

23 November 2015

We’re bringing things into balance. Initiatives such as our Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence and our Equilibrium Program support us to do this. We now have 400 Women of Influence alumni and along with our Ruby members we’re celebrating with the opportunity to be the first to see the new Hollywood movie Suffragette on November 25.

Knowing how many films have been made about the period – especially those touching on The Great War and World War II – I did wonder why it’s taken 100 years to capture such an important part of history. Sadly, if you thought there was nothing more to be ‘active’ about when it comes to women’s rights, you’d be wrong. Gender equality in society and the workplace is far from a foregone conclusion, a yawning cavern between pay equity still exists, and when it comes to the objectification of women and girls on social media and family violence issues, there is much to be done. As Elizabeth Broderick, our 2014 top 100 Women of Influence points out, each one of us can choose to make a difference.

Winning female jockey Michelle Payne did just this when she referenced and later stood by her words on the patriarchal world of racing following her historic Melbourne Cup win on the first Tuesday in November.

Our Equilibrium Program, which is now in its second year and which provides women from outside the financial services sector with an opportunity to join us and enhance their own careers, is a further example of where we are making a difference to the diversity of the Australian workplace. If our 2015 intake of women is anything to go by where you work doesn’t matter, it’s what you know that makes the difference. I encourage any of you who are reading this and who want to apply to have a look at this fantastic opportunity.

We’ve also been attending and hosting important events on the diversity and inclusion calendar.

The launch of the Business Council of Australia's 'Recognising Ability: Business and the Employment of People with Disability' report, for example, was on October 29. It was attended by senior executives and diversity practitioners and stakeholders from across corporate Australia and government.

Westpac hosted the event and is featured as a case study in the report, outlining our approach to embedding accessibility in how we do business and creating a disability-confident workforce. Two of our employees also feature in the launch video – talking about how organisations can increase the employment of people with disability in their business and our approach to ensuring they can bring their whole selves to work every day.

You can access the report and the clip here http://bit.ly/1MjDhUp

If you want to link to the video clip or embed it, you can use this link https://youtu.be/u1_9O3WGkqQ

Cycle YWCA

On Friday 13 November the YWCA NSW branch hosted a Sydney-wide cycling challenge (above) to raise funds to break the cycle of domestic violence in Australia. The "Break the Cycle" event saw more than 200 corporates cycle for this important cause. I participated in the cycle alongside Westpac Foundation CEO, Sinclair Taylor. The event raised nearly $50,000 and all funds go toward the YWCA's educational program, Y Brave.

As long-time supporters of the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA) we attended the 30th anniversary annual debate dinner on November 17. Moderated by ABC TV’s Tony Jones, the debate raged around “Is there too much talk and not enough action on diversity?” On the affirmative were Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Dianna Ryall AM and Dr Tim Soutphommasane; on the negative Dr Anne Summers AO, John Brogden AM and Chris Lamb. Both sides showcased the importance of inclusion and diversity to the social and economic prosperity of Australia. 

Senior executives of the bank, including Deputy CEO Philip Coffey, attended and Westpac received a Certificate of Appreciation for being a founding member of the DCA.

Like many parents, I’ve been doing my share of roaming the streets… for Halloween that is, and attending a stream of ballet/jazz and school concerts. It heralds the countdown to Christmas for me as I am sure certain events do for each of you. I look forward to catching up with more news in December and encourage you to have a look around the Ruby site to see what our members are doing and how you can join in to make a difference.

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