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.