Dr Nicky Howe

Southcare Chief Executive Officer
In her own words . . .
Nicky Howe 1.jpg

Why commit to gender balance?

I think through actively participating I can help shape the narrative on diversity and inclusion from a negative to a positive one, from a standpoint of a liability to a standpoint of an opportunity. In Kristof and WuDunn’s book ‘Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity For Women Worldwide’ we read how women are exploited. As a female leader I have a deep responsibility to help my sisters to get access to education, healthcare, safety/security, and economic empowerment. 

When women receive the same education and job opportunities as men, they can improve any organisation they join. Studies show that diversity of all types (gender, race, sexual identity, etc) increases an organisation’s productivity and innovation and that increasing women’s participation in the economy is good for the economy. In OECD countries, if the female employment rates were raised to match Sweden, it would lead to a GDP increase equivalent to $6 trillion. Gender pay gaps end up costing the economy.

Our main business is Community Aged Care. Like many caring professions, we do not have a problem recruiting women to meet a gender balance. Our problem is the work is not valued by civil society, so the rates of pay are low – our problem is the gender pay gap.  

Change should be driven from the top-bottom because leaders are in the privileged position to set the strategy and culture of the organisation. We must use this privilege to create work environments that value, support and actively implement strategies to create gender equity.   

As Parker J Palmer said, ‘the reality we really have to cope with – is that we are interconnected beings born in and for community’. We must work together to achieve change by supporting, empowering, educating and co-creating solutions to increase gender equity.