International Women’s Day: a balanced report

The theme for IWD2019 (8 March) is #BalanceforBetter: The better the balance, the better the world.

The bad news

We still have far to go before the Australian workforce is gender-balanced. Firstly, there are financial imbalances:

Secondly, there are leadership imbalances. Women represent only:

These imbalances can’t be blamed on women being less qualified, because the opposite is true:

A major cause of imbalance is that women are still expected to do most of the unpaid house-keeping, child-rearing and other caring work. Consequently:

Factoring this in, the gender pay gap narrows significantly when calculated on hourly (rather than weekly) wages, but it persists – and workforce leadership remains imbalanced – because:

  • men are still unfairly preferred over equivalent women for jobs, development and promotions
  • work in female-dominated sectors (such as child care, teaching, health care and administration) continues to be undervalued (or perhaps work in male-dominated sectors such as banking and insurance is overvalued), and
  • part-time work often means less professional development, slower career progression and fewer pay rises.

The good news

None of these imbalances are inevitable and simple actions can shift the scales towards equity. At gemaker, we’re doing all we can to increase balance in the workforce while maintaining balance in our lives and we encourage others to do the same. We believe that attitudes to part-timers and flexible work are key to management diversity and the future STEM workplace, for women AND men, is closer to home than you might think.

gemaker champions sustainable, flexible, work-from-home, project-based employment with competitive remuneration. This means paying people for the work they do, rather than paying them for being in the office. gemaker therefore attracts qualified, talented and experienced people who just don’t want a rigid full-time job, and the business has low overheads and high agility.

To mark IWD2019, here are some of our team’s reflections on the balance gemaker’s progressive employment model has brought to their lives…

Dr Julie Wheway, gemaker’s Manager of Strategic Engagement, needs flexible, part-time work because she wants to spend time with her young children and make regular visits to see her mother, who lives in a nursing home.

‘It also means I have time and energy to support the wellbeing of my community as a volunteer worker for local schools and sports clubs. Part-time workers add huge value to our society by caring for children, disabled people and the elderly, as well as promoting community development.

‘It’s critical that part-timers don’t miss out on professional development. gemaker provides training and other growth opportunities for the whole team, no matter how many hours you work per week, which means everyone’s upskilled and no one feels overlooked or excluded.’

Flexible, remote-access work allows Katie Cowling, gemaker’s Digital Marketing Manager, to visit her family in the USA regularly, without having to take extra leave. Katie also worked on her honeymoon in Fiji.

‘The trip to Fiji was a surprise wedding gift. I’d already had a holiday in the US during which I got married, but since I can work for gemaker wherever there’s Internet access, I went to Fiji as well. Each morning, while my husband went surfing, I completed my work tasks, so afterwards we could relax together.

‘It’s how work should be – just one part of a balanced, happy life. When I tell other people about gemaker’s employment model, they always say ‘That’s awesome, I wish my employer would do that.’’

Flexible work empowers Rebecca Colless, Communications Specialist for gemaker, to meet the needs of her family and develop her fiction writing career too.

‘It’s allowed me to attend mid-week writing workshops and festivals, and to re-organise my routine when I needed to work intensively on a novel to meet a publisher’s deadline. Sometimes creative inspiration will strike unexpectedly in the middle of a workday. Flexible employment means I can temporarily stop working on a client’s project and record my idea for a plot twist before it evaporates!

‘Traditional, rigid employment seems to be based on the idea that employees are like children who won’t get their work done unless they are watched over by a boss-parent in an office. Working flexibly, at home, means your employer respects your other life choices and you feel trusted. That’s very motivating, which is good for business.’