Female leaders on 2022 priorities: Participation, caring economy and safety

Female leaders on 2022 priorities: Participation, caring economy and safety

“Women were hit first and hardest by the pandemic, a strong recovery and flourishing economy can only be achieved if we put women’s participation and progress at the top of the agenda,” says Sam Mostyn

A focus on women’s economic participation, broadening the care economy and increasing safety at work and the home are the top three issues identified by female leaders for 2022.

That’s according to Chief Executive Women members who were surveyed as part of this year’s Meet the Moment report.

A massive 91 per cent of respondents said women’s economic participation and progression is one of the most important priorities for women in Australia. 

The Meet the Moment survey, conducted with Boston Consulting Group, draws on the insights of Australia’s most experienced female leaders to outline actions for industry and governments, including intentional policymaking, gender-balanced leadership in organisations and institutions and safe, flexible, inclusive workplaces.

Chief Executive Women President Sam Mostyn AO said that CEW members are a critical part of Australian society who bring unique perspectives on the opportunities for women in Australia.

“Women were hit first and hardest by the pandemic, a strong recovery and flourishing economy can only be achieved if we put women’s participation and progress at the top of the agenda,” she said in a statement. 

“To realise the potential of women’s economic participation and progress, we must address well understood underlying issues, like investing and redesigning the care economy and ensuring that women feel safe in their workplaces. These are not simply women’s issues, they’re mainstream economic, social and political issues requiring leadership.” 

“Early in the pandemic Australia made great strides quickly through smart, evidence-based and intentional policymaking, and by working together. Now is the time to support the economic and social participation of women, enabling the economy and community to prosper and grow for all.”

Anna Green, BCG Managing Director and Senior Partner and CEW Member believes that with greater opportunities for women to participate, changes will be made to benefit everyone. 

“We can use this momentum to act on the issues that are most critical for women in Australia,” she said.

“We know that as a nation we can be decisive and act quickly when we need to. We must have women and diversity generally at Australia’s top decision-making tables. Many of the survey findings echo community sentiment in the past two years, recovery from the pandemic raises the urgency to act.”

Seventy percent of survey respondents said that the care economy was something our country needs to reevaluate. 

“Care has been the backbone of Australia throughout this pandemic, we need to change how we think about what drives our economy,” Sam Mostyn AO said. “One of the most effective actions is placing care at the centre of the economy and investing in decent wages and secure employment for people in care industries.” 

More than half of respondents believe there needs to be an increase in safe and respectful relationships in workplaces, homes, and communities.

“Australia must make homes and workplaces safe,” Mostyn added. “CEW is calling for action to prevent and eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace. Making work safe for all will help remove some of the barriers to women’s workforce participation, while creating lasting cultural change for Australia.”

“The more we encounter women at senior levels, we would expect greater exposure to gender respectful communication and norms that we will take with us to work, home, and in our communities,” Nicola Wakefield Evans, the Non-executive Director of Macquarie Group said. 

Kathryn Fagg AO believes that focusing on the home is critical for all women in Australia. 

“The first two years of this decade highlighted that we have an issue across workplaces, homes, and communities that can’t continue to be ignored,” she said.

“We saw domestic violence numbers spiral, and heard young women including Chanel Contos, Grace Tame, and Brittany Higgins share their stories of assault in workplaces and schools. We need to see more men championing change and driving the safety momentum, so we don’t need to rely on more people sharing their horrendous experiences.”

Fifty percent of CEW members believe that climate change is one of the most important issues for women in Australia, while 80 percent cited climate change as the most important issue.

“Women’s participation is essential to solve so many of the issues we have, including climate change,” Patty Akopiantz, Co-Founder Assembly Climate Capital said. “Unless we increase participation of women in the growing sectors of the economy, women will go backwards over the next few decades, as we are currently under-represented significantly in those sectors.”

Ninety-four percent of respondents believes we need more women in executive profit and loss roles, followed by women in politics, women in climate change, sustainability, AI and STEM. 

Mostyn added that Australia has an enormous untapped opportunity to leverage its available talent, especially women, in the workforce, citing the World Economic Forum data which ranks Australia as first for women’s education, and seventieth for workforce participation. 

“As a country that ranks number one in the world for women’s education, now is the time to make the most of that investment by setting measurable targets to ensure greater representation of women, and people of diversity, across the board to increase women’s leadership and diversity around its decision-making tables,” she said. 

You can read the Meet the Moment report here

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