Driving gender equality will have broad benefits
“Seeing women as equal in business and in government is the first step to seeing women as equal in all parts of society.” – Tammy Medard, Managing Director, Institutional Australia & PNG, ANZ
At ANZ, improving the representation of women in leadership and achieving gender equality is a business imperative - it’s about accessing the talent, markets and economic opportunities gender equality brings.
ANZ is the Thought Leadership Partner of Chief Executive Women (CEW). CEW is the pre-eminent organisation representing Australia’s most senior women leaders from the corporate, public service, academic and not-for-profit sectors whose shared vision is ‘women leaders enabling women leaders’.
ANZ and CEW have shared goals to increase the representation of women in senior leadership roles and boardrooms and to increase the economic empowerment and financial capability of women. CEW members work actively to realise a vision of a community where people of all genders have equal economic and social choices and responsibilities.
Four of ANZ’s senior women leaders have recently become CEW members and have reflected on the focus they want to bring to create a better, more equitable future for women.
Gender equality a top priority for good reason
- Tammy Medard, Managing Director, Institutional Australia & PNG at ANZ
You may have missed the news in late August there is finally a woman seated at the board of every ASX200 company. I don’t blame you if you did; COVID-related restrictions, vaccine rollouts and roadmaps out of lockdowns were dominating the domestic news – but that doesn’t diminish the significance of this important milestone.
To me it’s less about what it means now and more about what it means for the future. Driving equality speaks to my core, my purpose and gets me going every day.
I’m a big believer in people having to see something to believe it. And for women in the workforce this is proof of what can be achieved. Representation is so crucial. Seeing women as equal in business and in government is the first step to seeing women as equal in all parts of society.
But it’s not just women who benefit from this equality. The UN Foundation calls gender equality an “aspiration that benefits all of society, including girls and women”. According to the Victorian government, equal communities are “safer and healthier”.
The economic benefits would impact all of us. Australia’s gross domestic product would grow 11 per cent if we could close the gender employment gap alone. The gender gap between tertiary education and the workforce costs us $A8 billion. There’s clear science behind this.
This is why I’m honoured to join Chief Executive Women (CEW), a group of more than 1,000 trailblazers which has for decades pushed for equal representation in Australia. It reinvigorates my passion to drive the equality agenda, particularly at the highest levels of our organisation.
In my role at ANZ I’ve strived to create a culture of transparency, equality, innovation and continuous improvement. One practical example of this is shifting our thinking around recruitment to ensure there is a gender-balanced panel of equal-seniority individuals and a shortlist of equally strong candidates.
ANZ is definitely on the right path and I know that by looking at our board and senior management. Driving gender equality became a top priority for me when I became CEO for ANZ in Laos seven years ago. At that time, my son was three years old and my daughter was just nine months.
In my time there I resolved that when my kids entered the workforce as young adults, I would be able to look them in the eye and say I did everything in my power to make the workplace balanced and fair.
The reality is we must continue to change – even if some find it hard. As a business leader how could it not be top of mind? Endless studies have shown when businesses have a gender-balanced leadership team, their businesses increase profitability when compared to companies that do not have gender-balanced leadership.
It’s better for your bottom line. It provides a better representation of the community you serve. It’s a sound business decision and it’s the kind of company I want to represent at Chief Executive Women.
ANZ’s Emma Gray (left) and Tammy Medard
Role modelling for the next generation
- Emma Gray, ANZ Group Executive for Data and Automation
I’d like my representation at Chief Executive Women to be focused on mentoring and role modelling. The phrase might be overused a little these days, but I’m a big believer that you can’t be what you can’t see.
When considering how to be an effective role model for young people at an organisation, a lot of it comes down to leadership style and how we present ourselves. I believe in trying to convey a style that mixes confidence, inquiry and vulnerability to ensure people feel comfortable putting issues on the table.
At ANZ we call it a 'speak up' culture and leadership is critical in driving this feeling of psychological safety for all staff. We are building an environment where all staff, and particularly women, feel safe to speak up and have their voices heard.
I believe it’s vital to display integrity in all our professional dealings. We’ve got to allow people to feel comfortable to put all issues on the table and to engage with them collaboratively to solve those problems.
Being part of the solution gives leaders opportunities to lead in ways that waiting for solutions to be presented fully baked does not.
Throughout my time at ANZ I’ve attended everything from team showcase meetings to large group stand-ups to communicate my engagement, help energise teams, and encourage more cooperation between the different business groups. It’s all part of making the members of our teams feel valued and comfortable enough to find their voice.
I hope this kind of engagement role modelling helps improve the culture of women stepping up and finding confidence in themselves and in so doing, influencing others. This is part of the role that I find most rewarding.
The finance industry and technology and data disciplines desperately need diversity in the talent pipeline to ensure Australia’s economy is future fit.
At ANZ there is a conscious effort to reflect this in our recruitment processes. I also devote more of my time to graduates to help inspire and encourage them to persevere in these fields.
It’s vital that they are represented more equally within our workforce and I hope the platform of Chief Executive Women can help us get that message out. I want my example to them to be: “If I can do it, so can they”
Fiona MacDonald is Diversity and Inclusion Lead at ANZ
ANZ is Thought Leadership Partner of Chief Executive Women. The bank’s support enables CEW to help remove the barriers to women’s progression and ensure equal opportunity for prosperity through advocacy, research, targeted programs and scholarships.
Tammy Medard’s piece is an edited version of a story published on ANZ’s Institutional Insights website.
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