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December 2016 – January 2017

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Welcome to our  news, research & resources round-up, this time across December – January; where consultant Hannah E. Lawson shares the latest collection of news relevant to gender, diversity & inclusion in Australia and the World.

 

How Australian women rallied together online to deliver real change in 2016 – Women’s Agenda

2016 was the year that everyday Australian women wielded real power online. Women helped deliver eight of the ten biggest social change victories of 2016 on Change.org, up from 5 out of 10 last year. This year, by sharing their stories online and encouraging others to take action, female petitioners decriminalised medicinal cannabis, influenced supermarket giants, won half a billion dollars in relief for dairy farmers and saved 26 lives by cutting the waiting list for a life-saving cancer operation. There were seven major victories for women’s equality on Change.or this year – more than any other cause, except health, on the platform. Read More

Sometimes it’s just better to stay single: how the tax system hurts married women – Canberra Times 

A new OECD paper has looked at how tax systems, including Australia’s, effectively discriminate against married women. The paper, which was worked on by the OECD’s super-duper tax team including former Labor minister David Bradbury, suggests that most tax and transfer systems, including Australia’s, have “implicit” gender biases built in. The most common implicit gender bias? The greater disincentive for second-income earners – typically women – to return to work. According to the paper, “Australia’s individual-based tax system, together with the absence of any dependent spouse tax reductions, mean that a second earner without children entering employment in Australia will face the same average tax rate on their earnings as a single individual University of Sydney professor Patricia Apps, in her paper, Gender equity in the tax-transfer system for fiscal sustainability, has also argued that changes to taxation of family benefits introduced during the Howard years, and continued under subsequent governments, has seen rising inequality in wages, income and wealth. One of the main factors that has exacerbated the pay gap between men and women – the Workplace Gender Equality Agency data confirms that on average men still outearn women by $27,000 – is the fact that the tax system withdraws family payments for dependent children on the basis of joint income. Read More 

How Mindfulness Helped a Workplace Diversity Exercise – Harvard Business Review 

Diversity initiatives are important, and discussions about sensitive topics like race, gender, and ethnicity need to occur. The training session could serve as a sort of pilot study: What if mindfulness could be a tool for helping employees tolerate the sort of discomfort my grad school peers weren’t able to handle? The author soon discovered, it could. The key to making diversity training worth anyone’s time, it was clear, was to create an environment in which people could tolerate the discomfort that accompanies dealing with sensitive topics and the self-judgment that can go along with taking a hard, honest look at themselves, warts and all, so that they could eventually let down their guard. That mindfulness helped with this process probably shouldn’t come as a surprise, given the many studies that show how it can help us become aware of our biases and reduce them. Diversity initiatives shouldn’t be done away with — they just need to be reimagined. Read More 

Women dominate the ranks of ACT Public Service: 2016 State of the Service Report – Canberra Times

Women dominate the ranks of the ACT public service, although they earn on average slightly less than their male counterparts. Numbers are lower at the senior levels, where six of the nine directors general are women but just 41 per cent of the senior executive service overall are women. Nevertheless, the pay gap between men and women is comparatively small and in some areas women earn more than their male colleagues. Male public servants earn an average $89,680. On average females earn $3240 less, at $86,440. That’s a gap of 3.6 per cent between male and female earnings, a gap that didn’t improve in the five years to June 2016, according to the annual State of the Service report. Read More

How to accelerate gender diversity on boards – McKinsey 

The tone of much public discourse on the issue of women’s representation on boards has been pessimistic of late, and understandably so, given the crawl toward gender parity in the United States. Women currently hold 19 percent of board positions there, while in European countries such as France, Norway, and Sweden, where legislative or voluntary targets are in place, they hold more than 30 percent. That said, some progressive companies are taking the lead, looking for female board members in new places and bringing them on board in new ways. Many feel they still have a long way to go, but their experiences are salutary for those that are lagging behind and want to better understand how to make change happen. McKinsey recently conducted an analysis of companies in the S&P 500 to identify top performers in board diversity, defined as those with the highest percentage of women on their boards as of August 2016 It showed that women occupied at least 33 percent of board seats among the top 50 companies (up to nearly 60 percent for the highest percentage). They then conducted a series of interviews with the CEOs and board chairs from a number of those standout companies, as well as some European businesses that have made similar progress. The goal was to hear directly from them about their gender-diversity journeys—the challenges they’ve faced, the best practices they’ve adopted, and the benefits that they continue to reap from increased representation of women, as well as other minorities, on their boards. Read More

Cut the flowers, help women bloom: How DFAT tackled its male culture, room by room – Canberra Times 

When naming the rooms in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade building, its chiefs had a great idea – honour the many distinguished diplomats and public servants who had dedicated their lives to bettering Australia. The building itself was named after Richard Casey, who helped push Australia’s exploration of Antarctica, among other notable acts, while rooms were named for the like of Arthur Tange and Gareth Evans, whose service and policy helped cement Australia’s place on the world stage. But once they went through the men, they were out of ideas – until another suggestion was made – name the remaining eight rooms after flowers and native plants. It was a suggestion enthusiastically taken up. But under DFAT’s first female secretary, another idea was offered. Why not honour the “pioneering and inspirational” women who had served the department just as well as the men, if a little more from the shadows. Read More

Straight talk about gender diversity in the boardroom and beyond – Mckinsey

Much of the discussion around gender diversity on boards focuses on how far we still have to go to achieve parity in the United States. While important, this conversation can sometimes overshadow the progress that individual companies are making to drive change across their organizations.  In the fall of 2016, McKinsey conducted an analysis of companies in the S&P 500 that had the highest percentage of women on their boards. They then spoke to leaders at some of those companies, as well as to a few European leaders who are making similar progress in their organizations.  Read More

Study finds men avoid applying for jobs that advertise ‘feminine’ qualities, like empathy – Canberra Times

One of the biggest economic riddles today is why out-of-work men aren’t pursuing the jobs that are growing the most, which are mainly in health care. A big reason is that these so-called pink-collar jobs are mostly done by women, and that turns off some men. Employers have something to do with that: An analysis of listings for the 14 fastest-growing jobs from 2014 to 2024 found that they used feminine language, which has been statistically shown to attract women and deter men. The study was done by Textio, which has analysed 50 million job listings for language that provokes disproportionate responses from men or women. Societal expectations and stigmas concerning masculinity deter men from feminine jobs, social scientists say, so some health care employers have tried to use more masculine language to appeal to men, like talking about the “adrenaline rush” of being an operating room nurse. A better solution, according to Textio’s data, is to use gender-neutral language in job postings. Read More

Republican men think women are now better off than men, according to poll – Canberra Times

To be a woman in the United States is to feel unequal, despite great strides in gender equality, according to a wide-ranging poll about gender in post-election America released this week in the lead-up to Donald Trump’s inauguration. American men, however, don’t necessarily see it that way. Those are some of the findings from the poll, by PerryUndem, a nonpartisan research and polling firm whose biggest clients are foundations. It surveyed 1,302 adults in December via NORC at the University of Chicago’s AmeriSpeak panel. Eighty-two per cent of women said sexism was a problem in society today, and 41 per cent of women said they had felt unequal because of their gender. Men underestimated the sexism felt by the women in their lives, the survey found. And while most respondents agreed it’s a better time to be a man than a woman in our society, only Republican men thought it was a better time to be a woman than a man. Read More

How Technology Can Help Close the Gender Gap – Harvard Business Review 

Emerging tools are giving women a host of new ways to empower their professional lives. The implications for companies are significant, as women amass the means and the resources to dramatically change the game.The first change that will empower professional women is the increasing availability of actionable information related to companies’ gender practices. Salary information that allows women to measure their personal gender pay gap is already available from GetRaised, Payscale, ZipRecruiter, and Comparably.  Information on company cultures is available at startups like The Muse. The female-friendliness of company cultures and their policies in particular are being crowdsourced by startups like Fairy God Boss and Doxa. And this information is not just available about the companies we work for: Buy Up Index provides rankings of the gender-friendliness and progress of companies we buy from, while Pax Ellevate Global Women’s Index Fund (I am the chair of the fund) and the SHE E.T.F. provide the means to invest in the top companies for advancing women. Read More 

One third of ICU doctors bullied, survey finds, prompting crackdown by College of Intensive Care Medicine – Canberra Times 

The College of Intensive Care and Medicine (CICM) – prompted by media coverage of widespread discrimination and sexual harassment among surgeons and anecdotal reports within its own ranks – has moved to stamp out bullying, discrimination and harassment in ICUs. The college surveyed almost 1000 fellows and trainees and found one third reported being bullied in the past two years. A total of 12 per cent report they had experienced discrimination and 3 per cent reporting being sexually harassed. Women were almost three times more likely to be sexually harassed than men and more than twice as likely to report discrimination, according to the survey published in Critical Care and Resuscitation. Read More  

The rise of the fatherhood penalty – Canberra Times

Fathers are taking a bigger role in the day-to-day, hands on care of children like pick-ups, drop-offs, feeding and bathing. It’s a profound cultural shift that has become more pronounced over the past decade. But Australian workplaces have been surprisingly slow to adjust. “Employers have accepted that fathers should take some leave around the time of a birth, but it’s really a pretty short period – about two weeks. Most employers are not ready for fathers to take extended leave, or have greater work flexibility, when they have children.” A significant proportion of male workers – up to one in five according to some estimates – would like more flexible work hours but feel they can’t ask for it. They fear making such a request will stifle their career or even make their job less secure. Unless workplaces can adjust to the way families have changed there’s a chance we’ll end up with both a motherhood penalty and a fatherhood penalty. Read More