On the eve of the historic Bledisloe Cup festival, where for the first time the Wallaroos and Black Ferns will play ahead of the Wallabies and All Blacks, it is fitting to reflect on how we are progressing on the topic of gender equality in Australia. Over the last 12 months we’ve seen some tremendously positive advancement—and witnessed some particularly divisive debate here in Australia.
Latest reports show the gender pay gap in Australia is starting to close—slowly but surely; we’ve seen women’s sport get the respect of broadcasters and fans across the country; we’ve applauded the appointment of the first women CEO of Rugby Australia—Raelene Castle. Also, during this time we’ve seen the #MeToo movement give a voice to women in media and entertainment industries to expose sexual harassment; and we’ve seen the ability of women to lead companies and boards questioned and challenged in an unseemly way.
So where do we go from here?
At Accenture we believe Inclusion starts with I. Each person has their own authentic self which contributes to the rich tapestry of diversity and each of us have a role to play in ensuring our diversity agenda is matched first with Inclusion.
I feel strongly on this topic of Inclusion and Diversity. At a time when Australians are rightly demanding more ethical, decent behaviour and leadership across business, sporting, political and community sectors it is disappointing to see gender continue to dominate the discussion. In the past six months we have seen senior women business leaders and public figures targeted, critiqued and publicly vilified because they are women—in ways that would never happen if they were men. We have seen unnecessary commentary on the personal lives and choices of senior women and even calls from some parts to review the value of diversity programs. This bias and sexism must not be allowed to flourish.
When companies bring together people of different genders, races, cultures and perspectives, we are smarter, more creative, innovative and relevant. And it’s the right thing to do. Research shows that as we help women advance, men also thrive, and we all rise together. While some progress has been made, these actions need to be backed by broader societal change where women, like men, are treated with fairness and decency. Where women, like men, are assessed on their performance and where women, like men, are valued for their contribution. Only then will we have achieved true gender equality.
That’s why at Accenture we are committed to achieving a gender-balanced workforce with a target of 50 percent women and 50 percent men globally by 2025. We have been bold and brave in publishing our progress because we believe if you can’t see it you can’t be it. Right now across Accenture Australia and New Zealand 34 percent of our workforce are women and more than 50 percent of our graduate recruits have been women.
It is important for us to partner with organisations who have similar values and goals. We are proud to partner with Rugby Australia who is working hard to show rugby is a game for all. We are excited to be a founding partner of the Wallaroos and the inaugural super W competition. The history making double header on Saturday should be a brilliant exhibition of inclusion and diversity—and of course, high performance and I encourage everyone to drag their friends and companions along to the most important game on Saturday—the game between the Wallaroos and the Black Ferns.
We must all continue to use our voices to create an Australia that values women and men equally on all levels; an Australia where differences are celebrated, where leadership is shared, and respect is universal.
Personally, I’m honoured to have joined the Male Champions of Change program and delighted to be in company of CEOs around Australia—men and women—championing a gender diverse society.
Remember Inclusion starts with I—and you.