Unleashing the feminist within…

Working in an office full of women and being International Women’s Day, we thought it appropriate to talk about women in the working world today. Joe Hockey, our Shadow Treasurer, has called for women to occupy a mandated 30 per cent of boardroom positions and our (female) Governor General, Quentin Bryce, has used International Women’s Day to back Hockey’s call for board quotas. The question is: Are qualified and capable women being overlooked for executive board positions in favour of men? There’s little doubt that amongst many company boards, across many different industries there is a dominant ‘men’s club’ that makes it almost impossible for women to climb the career ladder to executive status. In 2008, Westpac appointed a woman (Gail Kelly) as CEO. Prior to this position, Gail was the CEO of St George bank for over five years. She was perfectly qualified for the role, and was successful in securing it. Today, Gail sits at on the Westpac executive board with 10 men. Is that equal? Clearly not. Have skilled and capable women been overlooked in the process of employing this board? We don’t know. Is one woman enough? But there’s more to consider as part of this topic aside form the quota itself: Societies acceptance on women’s roles – particularly as mothers. If we do not have a network to support working mothers, how can we expect them to ever reach that executive board level? Perhaps the real thing that needs changes is a child-care scheme that better supports working mums (and dads). Taking note of countries such as Iceland – who boast the most equal working rights between men and women in the world – is a start to making positive change in Australia. On another note, we aren’t disputing that women can do it – we all know there are already women out there who have scored the top job on their own merit. But what is their salary compared to men in similar positions? Not surprisingly, men in top executive roles are paid a lot more compared to women. What we found shocking was how much more men are paid. The highest paid male executive in America, as reported on 30th August 2010 by Electronic Recruiting News, received annually $350 Million. And the highest paid female, $38 Million. That’s a ratio of 9:1. Does the male executive do nine times more than his female counterpart? It’s a very interesting topic that we are fascinated by. Could it be that female dominated industries (where board members are more likely to be female) are less valued? Blake and the WordStorm girls (or feminists!)

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