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Women: back yourself and have a go

Pic: Alison Watkins (left) and Alexis George

On International Women's Day, I sat down with Alison Watkins, Group Managing Director for Coca-Cola Amatil, to discuss the economics of gender equality and why change seems still to be so far away.


I prefer not to dwell on the negatives and instead focus on the future however but, to me, things are changing too slowly. I’m becoming impatient.


“This is not about women solving a problem for women.” - Alison Watkins


Alison agreed, saying although there has been lots of positive change throughout her career, more needs to come.


“I'm very passionate about getting more women into line-manager roles in large organisations… that is what's going to really accelerate the changing culture and the sustainability of diversity in large organisations and on boards,” she said.

Alison also reflected on the term “female CEO” – how she is often described – and her hope that one day people will simply call her a “CEO”.


Alison and I are both lucky enough to be in a position where we are senior and we can help women but we agree there is a role for men to play in championing diversity.


“This is not about women solving a problem for women,” she said. “This is truly a broader societal problem and… it's really important to acknowledge the role and the leadership of so many wonderful men out there who are committed to improving gender diversity.”


Alison’s advice for young women is to have a go and back yourself in taking a risk.


“Talk yourself into things or find someone who will talk you into it. That was very important for me early on in my career,” she said.


I completely agree. I always say when there's a high-risk project, step forward and back yourself.


Alexis George is Group Executive of Wealth and Deputy CEO at ANZ


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