Why are we still talking about gender equity? Good question! Let's ask instead "are we there yet"​?

Recently I was asked why are we still talking about gender equity? Good question! I ask myself the same question, often.

The reality is - we are not there yet. That is, in Western Australia we still have the highest pay gap in Australia and we have the most amount of men in senior roles - even in female dominated occupations.

When you have got there - what does it look like? At least on some key metrics you will have a 50/50 leadership team, 50/50 senior managers and a pay gap of zero.

You'll also have the HR 'hygiene' issues covered regarding your policies and processes. And you'll have improved staff retention, higher engagement, improved decision-making, even greater returns! Up to 15% more according to McKinsey.

Recently Gary McGrath GM of Corporate Financial Services CBA in Western Australia hosted a CEO Roundtable and was joined by several CEOs and leaders.

CEOs for Gender Equity convenes monthly CEO Roundtables.

CEOs rolling up their sleeves

One CEO talked to the yearly remuneration review at his organisation. At the review's finalisation, he requested the results of the review, that is, only for those on paid parental leave (PPL). He was surprised to learn that any non-discretionary increases for the women on PPL would be held over until they returned to work. He accordingly intervened and asked for the women to receive the increases to which they were entitled, irrespective of being on PPL.

This scenario describes the vigilance required to monitor gender pay discrepancies. It also highlights the role of the CEO by ensuring the review aligned with the organisation's strategic priorities for retaining female talent. The benefit of this important decision, made quickly, delivered significant impact with huge symbolic value.

The impact of this intervention also held leaders to account.

Holding leaders accountable

If you are looking for answers, don't come to our organisation.

For some CEOs who are at the beginning of the gender equity journey, they are committed to not losing sight of their leadership responsibility to hold themselves and leaders accountable for the transformation required.

In better understanding the challenges that one organisation faced, a CEO shared how he convened a forum to gain insights from the women in the business. These were shared with the leadership team. Understanding their lived experience has created an urgency for change, starting with the leadership team. It has helped create a meaningful strategy.

Another CEO convened an ongoing group of emerging leaders to shadow his executive leadership team meetings driving accountability from the bottom-up. His central role as CEO is to ensure there is a gender balanced forum for decision-making that develops emerging leaders whilst connecting them to the big picture of pursuing profitability and long-term growth.

Are we there yet? No we are not and yes we have a long way to go.

Achieving a gender balanced organisation needs huge organisational energy - and there is no substitute for CEOs and leaders relentlessly pursuing impact until they get there.

Gary McGrath as a CEO for Gender Equity states:

The evidence is clear that gender parity in all walks of life benefits individuals, families, businesses and nations. Beyond the moral and economic imperative, however, is the need for large employers like Commonwealth Bank to reflect the communities where they operate so that they better understand and respond more meaningfully to their customers’ needs. This means mirroring diversity in all its forms.At Commonwealth Bank we have translated our pledge to gender equality into tangible commitments to gender targets to ensure we deliver diversity at every single level of our business, and in all our interactions with customers and communities.

Tania Cecconi

Since 2016, I have been thrilled to work with CEOs for Gender Equity as its inaugural executive director. Working with progressive CEOs my goal is to turn the dial in Western Australia. My job is to help them lead the transformation of their workforce by eliciting and sharing their stories of what works and doesn't work to drive and improve gender equity further.