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A fresh perspective from a female leader in Engineering – Nur Inan

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In the spotlight with Nur Inan, GM Infrastructure Services at Broadspectrum

100Mums interviews women you can relate to, in the hope that you  gain inspiration, insights or just enjoy hearing their story. Engineering has long been seen as a male dominated vocation with not many women choosing this as their career. It is interesting to hear different perspectives on this and how it differs around the world. In this interview, we speak with Nur, Nur came to Australia from Turkey and has been on an impressive career path working at companies such as NBN Co, Aurecon, Optus, Service NSW and currently Broadspectrum.  She is a very passionate individual who adds value wherever she works and strives to throw the ladder down to women in the company who have demonstrated capability and want to progress.

100Mums worked with Derek Osborn, CEO Government Services and Outsourcing at Broadspectrum to bring Nur Inan into the business as the General Manager of Infrastructure Services.  Her diverse experience has brought innovation to the team where she has proved to be a valuable asset to the business.

INTERVIEW CONDUCTED BY JANINE LAY-FLURRIE – CEO – 100MUMS

Firstly what inspired you to become an engineer?
I was a top performer at high school across all subjects, which was an advantage but also a disadvantage when choosing my career path. Then I decided to follow my passion of making things happen and a love of maths and numbers; in line with a family tradition as my 3 brothers also chose to become engineers.
At that time did you see it as a male dominated environment?
To be honest with you, I did not see this trend in my country of origin. However, I did observe this to be the case soon after I arrived in Australia as a migrant engineer. While registering at a medical centre, a nurse’s response to my profession was; “I am not asking your husband’s profession, I am asking yours”. This was my first eye opener. My first job in Australia was a Consultant Project Manager at Aurecon (formerly Connell Wagner). I was the first female engineer employed by the Company in New South Wales.
You’ve had an extremely interesting career, can you give me some key highlights that you are proud of?
Sale of Optus Towers and generating a financial benefit for the Company at a critical time when this was most needed; Influencing the Optus’ senior executives decision to enter into the 4G market earlier than planned; Returning underperforming Accelerated Digital Strategy (a NSW Government transformation program) to a successful outcome, and assisting the Premier to meet an election commitment to the public.
My current role at Broadspectrum (General Manager, Infrastructure Services) is what I am most passionate about.
What advice can you give to women wanting to climb the ladder?
To believe in their capabilities and if they are determined and remain focused, there are no limits.

What attracted you to Broadspectrum?
Broadspectrum is a global organisation operating in many different sectors. I thought this spread could be a good opportunity for further development and growth.
Can you describe your working relationship with Derek and the team?
I find Derek’s strategic direction and approach to innovations to be very inspiring, and the entire team is very supportive and welcoming.
What impact do you hope to bring to the company?
I hope to transform the areas under my responsibility to deliver a more favourable customer experience, whilst also improving operational and financial efficiencies.
What is your attitude to work? What gives you joy at work?
I am not afraid of challenges: they keep me focused, learning, and growing. My team energises me and with their support, I always aim to excel.

What makes a great operator, you mentioned your strategic approach can you elaborate on that?
Focus and ability to see the big picture as well as what is most critical. This helps me to prioritise and deliver results in the most effective way.

What do you think holds women back in Australia?
It is difficult to comment on this one for me. Perhaps there is a belief that some industries are difficult to operate within, however even if this is the case they can work towards changing this if they remain focused. I strongly believe that women should provide support for each other.

What mentors have you had in your life, can you think of one, personal or professional and describe why?
Firstly my mother, a strong, tenacious, hardworking woman who has always demonstrated great leadership and positive attitude.
Both of my parents valued education, and we ended up completing 9 degrees between myself and my 3 brothers.
I still keep in close contact with my female professors from University, who have been great role models for me.
I have always had more than one mentor in my professional life, who I turn to for advice and great discussions.
Its International Womens day soon– what will you be doing to celebrate and what does it mean to you?
I will reach out to my professional female friends around the globe. It is a day that I remember the great women who have contributed to my development.

Hit The Nail On The Head!

Nicola Roxon highlighted a trend often seen in many successful women when she spoke at the NAB Women’s Leadership Awards this year.

Firstly there is the perception that when you choose to leave your full time career that you are a failure, she quoted “Of course I’m cross at some of the silly reporting suggesting that retiring from politics after 15 years in Parliament, and five as a senior Cabinet Minister, is a failure for working women. What absolute and complete rubbish! If anything, the decision to change roles and move on should be an affirmation of what women can do, and do well. And what can be achieved and managed, even with young children.
Feminism was supposed to deliver opportunity and choice. I took that opportunity and gave it 200% — now I’m exercising my choice to do something else, to contribute in a different way.”

Nicola also spoke of women having a career that has the triple bottom line. 100 Mums wants to provide exactly that which is helping women to have a career that’s professionally satisfying, personally sustainable and provides some kind of public benefit.

More and more women I speak to on a daily basis are looking for this balance in life. Although they love being a mum they also want to be professionally satisfied as well. It’s a tricky dance trying to get the balance, I believe it can be achieved. The final point of the triple bottom line to provide some kind of public benefit is really exciting, once you have this is your career, integrated into your proposals and ingrained into your ethics you realise “wow your very powerful”. You inspire others and meet like-minded individuals. Did Nicola coin the phase? If she did well done Nicola!

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Accenture Research Finds Most Professionals Believe…

They Can “Have it All”

Desire to balance a successful career with full life outside work influences job choice, tops money in defining success

NEW YORK–(BUSINESS WIRE)– New global research from Accenture, titled “Defining Success,” has found that more than two-thirds of female professionals around the world – and the same number of male respondents – say they can “have it all.” In fact, having both a successful career and a full life outside work is so important that many choose a job based on its potential impact on work-life balance.

Seventy percent of both women and men believe they can have a successful career as well as a full life outside work – however, 50 percent also said they cannot “have it all at the same time.” Further, more than half (52 percent) say they have turned down a job due to concerns about its impact on work-life balance. In fact, work-life balance tops respondents’ definitions of career success, ahead of money, recognition and autonomy (cited by 56 percent, 46 percent, 42 percent and 42 percent, respectively).

“Over the course of their careers, professionals will continue to define and re-define what success looks like,” said Adrian Lajtha, Accenture’s chief leadership officer. “For many, career goals and personal priorities will take precedence at different times. As today’s professionals strive to find the right balance, leading companies will find innovative ways to help them develop, grow and thrive.”

The research also found that technology plays a role in achieving work-life balance, although respondents express mixed feelings about its impact on their personal lives. More than three quarters (77 percent) agree technology enables them to be more flexible with their schedules, and 80 percent report that having flexibility in their work schedule is extremely or very important to work-life balance. Yet 70 percent say technology brings work into their personal lives.

“The fact that finding the right approach to integrating career and life demands continues to be critically important to employees is significant for employers,” said Nellie Borrero, managing director – global inclusion & diversity, Accenture. “Companies that can help their employees navigate both their professional and personal lives are likely to see strong employee engagement and enjoy an advantage as they recruit and retain high performers.”

The Accenture research also covers a wide range of work-related topics that help define success in the workplace, including:

    • Job Satisfaction: In the current survey, 53 percent of women and 50 percent of men say they are satisfied with their jobs and not looking for new opportunities, compared to 43 percent of women and 41 percent of men, who expressed satisfaction in Accenture’s 2012 research.
    • Rewarding workplaces: When asked what words describe a good work environment, rewarding (cited by 59 percent) tops respondents’ lists. Honest, flexible and interesting follow (54 percent, 50 percent and 49 percent, respectively)
    • Tenure: Two-thirds of women (66 percent) and three-quarters of men (74 percent) have been with their current employers for more than 4 years.
    • Pay raises: The majority of respondents (58 percent of women; 64 percent of men) say they have asked for or negotiated a pay raise. These findings continue a steady upward trend: 49 percent of women and 57 percent of men in our 2012 research asked for or negotiated a pay raise, while 44 percent of women and 48 percent of men in the 2011 survey did the same.
    • Vacation and work: Three-quarters (75 percent) of respondents report they work frequently or occasionally during paid time off, generally checking email, catching up on work, working with no distractions, and participating in conference calls (cited by 71 percent, 44 percent, 35 percent and 30 percent, respectively). At the same time, 40 percent consider themselves workaholics.
    • Leaving: Top reasons for leaving a job include responsibilities that don’t match a job description (38 percent), pay (38 percent) and uninteresting work (34 percent).
    • Job search: When asked to name three things they would do to start a job search, respondents cited looking on job boards for open positions, contacting friends and others in their networks, and updating online profiles and information (cited by 30 percent, 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively).

Accenture will celebrate International Women’s Day in approximately 40 countries, with a focus on its global women’s theme: Defining success. Your way.

Research methodology

In November 2012, Accenture conducted an online survey of 4,100 business executives from medium to large organizations in 33 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States. A minimum of 100 respondents from each country participated, with the exception of Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Finland, where the combined number of respondents totaled 200. Respondents were split evenly by gender and were balanced by age and level in their organizations. The margin of error for the total sample was approximately +/-2 percent. A full report on the research, “Defining Success,” containing info graphics, analysis of regional trends and other key highlights is available at www.accenture.com.

About Accenture

Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, with approximately 259,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. Through its Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship focus, Accenture is committed to equipping 500,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business. The company generated net revenues of US$27.9 billion for the fiscal year ended Aug. 31, 2012.

What Women Really Want

Do you know what Meg Whitman, Virginia Rometty and Gail Kelly have in common?

All three are a part of this huge community of incredibly successful working mums who have played a significant role in the success stories of their respective economies. Meg Whitman is the President CEO of HP and Virginia

Rometty heads technology giant IBM. With such dynamic women as leaders in an otherwise male dominated technology industry, they set a proud example for millions of working mums all over the world. Gail Kelly is another impressive woman, who epitomizes the definition of ‘supermum’.

As a mother of four children, this Westpac CEO has gone a long way following her marriage and the birth of her children. She completed her MBA while she was working and pregnant with her first child, and was promoted to being the head of human resources after giving birth to triplets.

The list of women who have scaled great heights in their respective careers despite having a family to take care of is too long to mention here. Unfortunately, the reality is that thousands of women all over the world feel the pressure to quit their jobs in order to look after their family, especially after child birth. While many might be able to strike that fine balance between their family and career, there is a huge population of women who have sacrificed their careers for a fulfilling family life. Although not willingly, when women have to make a choice between family and career, they tend to choose the former. And the world loses talented, productive, skilled members who could have helped spur the economy.

Being adept at multitasking comes naturally to women and if given a chance, they would readily love to make both their career and their family work. According to a research by Regus, an international company providing office spaces, working mothers all over the world had a lesser chance of getting a job in 2011 than in 2010. The results of this study indicated that a mere 36 percent of the participating companies were planning to hire mothers this year as compared to a brighter picture the previous year, when 44 percent of the companies said that they would be open to employing working mothers.

In South Africa, the trend is even more pronounced, with only 31 percent of all respondents stating that they would appoint more mothers, compared with the 51 percent prepared to do so in 2010 . “If one considers that better economic conditions are making more jobs available, it’s worrying that working mothers’ chances of being employed are on the decline,” said Joanne Bushell, Regus’ Vice-President for Africa and the Middle East.

This decline is possibly due to the preconceived notion about working mothers in the corporate world. There is a widespread misconception that working mothers tend to prioritise their family over their professional responsibilities and tend to be more demanding than their counterparts. A study suggests that while only half the working women want fewer hours, more than half are ready to trade their pay for a day off, and three quarters prefer flexible work options. To come to think of it, everyone, regardless of gender or marital status, would like that. The big question here is that what is in it for the companies? What are some of the good reasons that may entitle the working mums to such concessions?

For us, the answer is simple. Working mothers as employees offer some unparalleled advantages to businesses, such as:

  • Loyalty – working mothers are less likely to switch jobs frequently
  • Strong work ethics
  • Experience – better at multitasking (after all handling children and a career needs some skill!)
  • Maturity – women generally have a higher level of maturity and sense of responsibility

If statistics by branding agency Sparxoo are to be believed, a majority of the income growth over the past decade in the United States of America has come from women . Given the significant contribution of women workers to any country’s economy, this immense pool of talent remains underutilized in almost every nation.

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Mums And The Australian Economy

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Firstly, a simple statistic:

If only 6% more women in Australia were in the workforce, the economy would see a staggering $25 billion increase, according to an independent study by the Grattan Institute. A mere 6% increase would bring Australia in line with other socio-economically comparable countries, such as Canada, and contribute to a far more stable economy; one that did not rely so heavily on one industry, such as mining.

This statistic begs the question: Why is it then, when it comes to hiring and retaining women, Australia is falling behind?
The superficial answer is perhaps unsurprising. Data from the ABS show that, between the ages of 20-24 in 2012, 70% of women were either employed or actively seeking work. (Incidentally, a higher figure than for men). However, at the next age bracket (24-35) the figures dramatically dip. Of course, this coincides with the age that many women go on to start a family, and in itself is not surprising. What is surprising is the number of women who return to work after having children. The data shows that participation in the workforce beyond this age was significantly lower than the previous 70%, indicating that a large proportion of women remain unemployed beyond their childbearing years.
Why is this? Back in the day when the most common professions for women were admin based, it is perhaps more understandable. But in the last 16 years, the strongest careers for growth amongst employed females were as professionals and managers. (91% and 75% respectively since 1996). In an era when women have achieved strong, upwardly mobile careers in leadership and professional roles, why exactly have the rates of employment for females dwindled so significantly?

Why are these women not returning to their previous careers after having children?

The truth of the matter is alarming, and summed up in a recent report by Ernst & Young. Quite simply, professional, senior positions in the workplace are not available with family friendly hours. Add this to issues with childcare, (ABS data show that, in 2008, 89,000 parents indicated they had an ‘unmet need’ with childcare, due to unavailability and cost) and it is little wonder than more and more mothers are retreating from the world of work.

Thus begins the story of 100 Mums.

For us, the problem was clear. Talented women were being lost to the Australian workforce due to flexibility issues with work roles, and to difficulties reconnecting with the professional environment.

The solution seemed equally self evident, though it required an element of thinking beyond the ‘accepted way’ of employment. Rather than forcing the talented professional woman into a situation whereby she felt she was compromising the welfare of her family by working inflexible hours, adopt a far less rigid approach, to not only meet her needs, but also to assist businesses across the country with her expertise, and in turn benefit the Australian economy.

This is our tenet. Don’t waste the power of these women, who can offer so much on so many levels. Instead, look for an efficient and practical way to utilise their skills and to offer them an option to successfully manage their career with their family commitments. The existing statistics state that only 52% of women have returned to some form of employment by the time their child is two. 100 Mums presents a viable, flexible way of ensuring that this percentage rises, by offering women a more convenient, more productive way of working, which benefits all involved.

The fears of mums going back to work

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six figure salary and felt very comfortable at work. Fast forward 7 years, Julie has 3 amazing little boys, a house and a supportive husband. Her youngest has just started school and she is feeling the pressure to return to work. Julie is worried about finding a flexible employer, being able to fit into a workplace after a long break and even wonders what she would wear to work.

Across town Jacky has just finished her gym class. She has an amazing life, coffee and lunches with the girls and time to be involved in school activities. Her life is complete. Or is it? Every now Jacky remembers the excitement of working on a PR campaign. But wonders if she still has what it takes.

Up in Brisbane Maria has thrown herself into her volunteer role of fundraiser for her kid’s local school. It reminds her of her life prior to kids as a fundraiser for a prominent charity. She’d love to go back to work but secretly worries that no-one would want to hire her, now that she’s been at home for 5 years.

These talented, amazing women share these same fears of so many women. It’s hard not to loose your confidence if you have been away from work, no matter how talented you are or how much you have to offer.

After working in employment services for 12 + years as a Careers Coach and previously as a Recruiter I have found that most women share the same fears and face the same challenges when returning to work after a long break. Many women are worried about the impact that working will have on their children and husbands. They wonder if employers would still value their skills. They have heard the horror stories about inflexible employers. They see how stressed some of their working friends are.

Being a mum myself and the founder of the www.projectworkready.com.au a back to work course for mums that have been out of the workforce while having children, I completely know how these women feel and I have also developed tools to easily overcome the challenges and eradicate the fears and give women back their confidence. These are all genuine concerns that must be addressed.

My main tips are:

  • Set real expectations on yourself and your employer
  • Capitalise on social media and learn your way around
  • Remember what made you amazing in your career before kids, then work on getting that back
  • Step out with confidence
  • Revise the unspoken rules of the office, so that you feel comfortable

I have found by working step by step with the women that they realise they have more to offer now than they did pre children. Their time management skills are honed and they really know what they want and what they want to do. They always go back into the market place with a renewed sense of pride and enthusiasm. Best of all if they go on to work through 100 Mums they get to choose work hours that fit their lifestyle.

Lisa O’Brien www.projectworkready.com.au

Why Women are Changing the Face of Politics: Cathy McGowan

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‘It’s a man’s world…but it wouldn’t mean nothing without a woman or a girl’.’ This was the message that the famous James Brown emphatically serenaded to the world, back in 1966. For many, the phrase rang true. Behind every successful, powerful male, there was a woman, operating in the background, offering support, but remaining in the shadows.

Thankfully, in the 47 years that have passed since then, things have changed considerably. Back in 1966, a woman called Vi Jordan entered Australian parliament; only the second to do so since women were granted the right to be elected. It took another 20 years for a woman (Janine Haines) to become the first female to lead a political party; in this case, the Australian Democrats.

But, as another singer from the 60’s so succinctly put it, ‘the times, they (were) a changing’. Today, in 2013, women burn brightly in the political arena, no longer content to be a background operative, but stepping forwards into the public eye and taking an active role in the decision making of the country.

A thoroughly modern approach to politics…

In October 2013, Cathy McGowan was finally confirmed as the new member for the seat of Indi; causing shock waves that reverberated through the country. It wasn’t so much that she was female, but that she was from an agricultural background; a no-nonsense, pragmatic individual who approached the political arena with a franker, straighter talking approach than her predecessors.
Raised on a farm in Indigo Valley, part of the strength of her claim to the seat of Indi was her in-depth knowledge of the area. She didn’t just know the Valley; she lived it, breathed it, ran a business within it and had grown up in its confines. Her credentials are excellent and her campaign clearly a masterful one, if her landslide success is anything to go by. But, would it have been different had she been a male? As a male, would this campaign have been as successful?

What do women bring to politics?

For many, Cathy McGowan arouses a sense of ardent respect and admiration, which of course, lies mostly with her endearingly ‘real’ personality. But we find ourselves wondering whether or not a significant amount of her appeal lies in the fact that she is female. Her policies reveal a level of deep caring for the people around her; and she is an active supporter of rural communities, people fighting cancer and promoting child care issues. In short, she brings a level of compassion and interactivity with her constituency that isn’t often associated with politicians.

There is a certain ‘fighting spirit’ about her that women across the country can very much relate to. The Australian (Oct 2013) captures a conversation that McGowan had with an elderly relative that encapsulates this:
‘You’re not a farmer, Cathy,’ he said. ‘Why not?’ I asked. ‘You’ll never be a farmer because you cannot lift a flyblown wether onto the back of a ute.’?” A local woman farming friend spoke up in her defence. “Of course Cathy’s a farmer,” she said. “She’ll farm in such a way that her sheep won’t get fly-struck.”

Tenacity, independence and a level of fierce intellect are highly appealing attributes for a politician to have, especially when combined with a high level of personal care for the community that they represent.

Forward thinking for women in the workplace

For Cathy McGowan, a major aspect of her political focus was on supporting women in agriculture, and helping to generate a more even playing-field for females choosing this career path. She has also campaigned extensively for better childcare for women in rural communities, an issue that many women across the country struggle with when attempting to re-enter the workforce.

Perhaps it takes a woman in power to help guide Australia towards having a better appreciation of the value of supporting women in the workplace. A staggering amount of women, after having children, simply cannot re-enter the world of work, largely due to issues such as childcare, inflexible working hours or lack of part-time positions.

The very reason for 100Mums is of course, to offer an active arena where talented, qualified women can find work, whilst managing their family life at the same time (and of course, a platform where employers can tap into this valuable resource!) With women like Cathy McGowan bringing this vitally important topic to the foreground and actively promoting change, perhaps Australia can start to utilise this untapped source of talent and bring bright, ambitious women back into the world of work.

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Shifting Perspectives: Have Women Achieved Career Equality in the 21st Century?

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In October 2013, the BBC in the UK held a unique event; calling together 100 women, from diverse locations across the globe and from varying social and economic backgrounds, to join together to discuss the role of women in the 21st century. The main points that 100 Women sought to address were regarding issues such as:

  • Feminism: Does it exist in the 21st century?
  • Media Representation; and how women are portrayed within the media.
  • What are the biggest opportunities and risks facing women today?
  • Is motherhood always destined to hold back women in the work arena?

The event closed on 25th October with an unprecedented live debate between all 100 women, discussing frankly and openly their feelings on the issues listed above, and more.

Does the ‘glass ceiling’ still exist for females, particularly those returning to work after becoming a mother?

One of the topics touched upon was the notion of the ‘glass ceiling’ in the workplace; the limitations that women everywhere feel are placed upon them as they strive to progress in their career, particularly after having children. Regrettably, it would seem that the conclusion, not only within the 100 Women debate, but throughout the world at large, would be a definite and resounding ‘yes’.
Feminist Fay Weldon agrees that the glass ceiling exists for mothers returning to work, but surprisingly, lays the responsibility at the feet of females, not of men. She states: “I think women aren’t promoted because they don’t apply for promotion: they don’t want the longer hours, bringing more strain and more stress.” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1052597/Does-glass-ceiling-exist-New-equality-figures-reveal-women-losing-men-workplace.html) She goes on to refer to the emotional bond between mother and child, and reflects upon how women find it harder to focus solely on a career, and to summon up the drive and resolve to place their own ambition above the perceived needs of their children.

An interesting perspective, certainly. In the same news article, Lorraine Heggessey, coincidentally the first female controller of BBC, suggests that men are more seasoned when it comes to applying for more senior roles, where as women are only just challenging the gender roles and appreciating their equal right to these positions. As a result, she suggests that “Men are conditioned not to allow their lack of confidence to stifle their progress; women just take longer to accept that they’re ready for the next rung on the ladder”.

Lack of Confidence and Lack of Desire?

If mothers, when returning to work, avoid seeking promotion due to lack of confidence, then the question must surely be; how can women be helped to develop the confidence to go for more senior roles? We would suggest that part of the problem lies in the lack of support for mothers; both with the current (and fairly primitive) maternity laws and inflexible working arrangements in place in most businesses and organisations. Mothers in Australia, and indeed, the world over, are being forced into stark, ‘black or white’ decisions when it comes to work. Return to work full time and hire someone to take care of your child, or stay at home full time.
There is very little middle ground.

This harsh reality ties in with Fay Weldon’s statement about ‘lack of desire’ in women to take on more senior roles. We would argue that the issue isn’t so much about lack of desire, but lack of flexibility. If a woman was offered the chance to progress her career and move to a more senior role, whilst still maintaining close contact with her child, then the issue of ‘non desire’ is likely to cease to exist.

Support with Both Parenting and Career-Path

A recent Forbes.com article highlighted the fact that, in 2012, more women than men began entry-level management level careers in the US. But something then changes radically with these figures. Only 37% of middle management jobs were held by women, and only 26% of women were vice presidents or above. These figures are reflected fairly consistently throughout the western world, including here in Australia.

We believe that a significant reason why women are not progressing to middle management and beyond is that they are not being supported in doing so. For a woman; after having babies; she is expected to take on a number of roles; looking after children, providing financial support for the family, and more often than not, undertaking the majority of the domestic chores too. Small wonder then, that in this current state of affairs, women are not going for the higher level careers; whilst their lives demand so much else of them.

Things have to change. Businesses across the country need to start recognising that they are losing out on a valuable percentage of the country’s talent and ability, by not rethinking the way that the company operates.
100Mums are working on starting the career revolution for mothers across Australia. Join us and help us to make a difference!

We are part of the single biggest social change in 50 years

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“We are part of the single biggest social change in 50 years, part of a movement where women move from the domestic into the public sector. Every day you are reshaping the social fabric, changing how we relate, changing the world to create work and prosperity for everyone” Anna Bligh, CEO of YWCA NSW inspired the audience of the NAB Women in Leadership Awards today. She certainly inspired me with these powerful words that made me reflect and acknowledge – yes we are part of the change, every working woman is part of that or even every woman that supports the change.

The awards really brought to my attention all the great women out there doing great things that will make a difference, certainly a great start to celebrating International Women’s Day this weekend.

Tomorrow morning I am continuing the celebrations by joining the UN’s International Woman’s Day Breakfast.
International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8th across the world. IWD is a global day celebrating the economic, political and social achievements of women in the past, present and future. It is a day when women are recognised for their achievements, regardless of divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women. https://unwomen.org.au/iwd/about-international-womens-day
Tomorrow is going to be a day where I will be grateful for being a woman in Australia, yes we do not have equality yet, how can we when there are only 17% women on boards and there is not equal pay.

However I am following a generation that have truly made a difference for me and I thank them for that. Tomorrow will bring to light the lack of rights and opportunity for women globally, unable to gain education, or punished just for being female. I also hope it will showcase the women that are making a stand in those countries and how we can help them get the same rights and opportunities that we take for granted.

So far Anna Bligh and the great work that YWCA NSW has stood out for me. An organisation that helps vulnerable people – over 30,000 were helped by them in 2013. They mentored over 13,969 young people, 445 women affected by domestic violence have been supported, and 61 young women were given safe accommodation in their refuges, it goes on.

I am so inspired to hear of an organisation that really is making a difference in women’s life’s here in NSW. Should this be the charity of choice for 100 Mums? Should we be offering our skills and mentoring to the young people? If this rings a bell for you let me know.

100 Mums championing Real Flexibility in the Workforce

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More and more companies are losing out to great talent due to being inflexible.

Even the Large corporates that are releasing policies are proving to be inflexible. Today I heard from a woman who was employed by a major bank, she had been there for over 10 years high up in change management, she fell pregnant to twins. The bank refused her role to become flexible forcing her to come back to a full time role. Is this sustainable practice? No, she left after a year to find a more flexible environment within FMCG. The bank lost a valuable and experienced employee that understood their business.

Surely taking someone on new is taking a step backward? We all know this is not an isolated event. In my role running 100 Mums I speak to women daily who share the same story and the same companies keep being mentioned. I wonder whether these companies are aware.

In the meetings I have had with some of the major corporates, some of the heads of HR have been wonderfully honest stating that due to organisations size, the culture is fast paced, unforgiving and inflexible. The department’s heads are only focused on the short term and even thinking of the long term gain is irrelevant to them. The great news is that within most large corporates there are now Diversity teams and people within the organisation that are pushing for change and in many cases the CEO has diversity on their agenda.

This is all relevant to 100 Mums as we walk into companies championing the skills of women, showcasing the talent they can get hold of if they only became a bit more flexible. Proving that – of course they can increase gender balance, and no there is no shortage of skills within women, there is in fact a shortage of flexibility. We urge companies to look at roles more dynamically. When given a role does it have to be 5 days 9-5.30pm every day? What if you gave the role more flexibility, or moved it from a 5 day a week to a 3-4 day a week, and the result was gaining a candidate that went way above your expectations falling within the same budget or even less?