International Women’s Day 2016: Pledge for Parity Agile working / Business / Member post

Three prominent members from IABC’s NSW and ACT community, share their views on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day: Pledge for Parity


Leanne JoyceI was pleased to see that this year’s International Women’s Day theme focuses on a goal. For many years I have celebrated inspirational women at IWD events, but the Pledge for Parity is about purposeful action.

We know in business and in life, that a destination can’t be reached without a clear direction.

This is especially the case for women who still struggle for equality in society.

Women suffer violence and discrimination – we must say no and rally to address these wrongs.

Individually we need to set our own goals to realise our potential, and to stand up against discrimination.

When I talk to women about their careers I often sense hesitation, humility, a bias toward smaller goals. We share stories of our male colleagues who have a can-do attitude and get that promotion and appear to confidently negotiate a good package.

As women we need to stop the negative self-talk, stop apologising, be true to our own leadership style, and maintain a bias toward optimism.

As colleagues in our profession we can help each other through mentoring, and professional development. IABC’s career path can help us develop the skill to pursue our career goals, and through our networks and friendships, the confidence to persevere.

Parity is a way off, but setting a shared, conscious goal, is the way to advance to realise our full potential.

Leanne Joyce
IABC Asia-Pacific Chair

Meryl_David_sizedHelping women and girls achieve their ambitions has been a priority since my earliest career in an industry (architecture) where, at the time, women were rare and certainly not encouraged. But on those rare occasions when men have asked for my help, it has been given just as readily.

As a 24-year veteran of IABC, I strive always to uphold IABC’s Code of Ethics, one aspect of which is: Professional communicators are sensitive to cultural values and beliefs and engage in fair and balanced communication activities that foster and encourage mutual understanding.

My focus right now has to be on valuing women’s and men’s contributions equally. The reason: in a world where exclusion and exclusivity appear to be the norm, we see on a daily basis in the news the disastrous results of excluding people from groups – this applies to both sides of any duality.

We have enough war in our world without having to fuel gender war. In our workplaces and families, we need to encourage flexibility and agility in working and dealing with each other, supporting both women and men to achieve this. That’s where we do each have the power to influence how our society as a whole can help meet the pledge for parity.

Meryl David, ABC
Global Communication Certification Council (GCCC) Member

srm_sizedThis International Women’s Day I’ll be at home preparing for the arrival of my fifth child. Yep, fifth. And I’m doing this with a *relative* sense of calm because I know my senior communications position will be there for me when I return from maternity leave. My peers and boss have faith that I will continue to deliver, and because flexible workplace arrangements are in place for me.

I’m very aware that this makes me one of the luckier ones, so I’m determined to do what I can to ensure that women continue to have opportunities throughout their careers, including when juggling parenting and caring commitments. Flexible working policies – like Ogilvy PR’s Agile Working initiative – allow people to keep contributing while still living their lives and doing what’s important to them. For me, it’s crucial that these policies are extended to men as well – I’d love to see more dads feeling it’s OK to do school drop off and pick-ups – because then flexible working becomes the norm and not a special consideration for working mums. Who, just quietly, feel guilty enough already thank you very much!

Let’s face it, we are in the digital age and technology is there to help up connect, work and contribute in different places. Flexible working makes great business sense as it increases loyalty and retention, both important factors when there’s a war for talent in the communications field.

If there is one piece of advice I would give to female leaders in our industry (aspiring or actual), it’s don’t apologise for working in this way. These measures have been introduced to keep people just like you so embrace them. Back yourself and importantly, make sure you are opening the door for others to follow in your footsteps.

Susan Redden Makatoa
Group Managing Director, Corporate at Ogilvy Public Relations