By Claire Braund, Women on Boards founder and Executive Director
International Women's Day saw us all asked to cross our arms and post #BreaktheBias. I was asked to post a picture of myself in this pose and flatly refused, arguing it meant very little other than another meaningless social media campaign which would die a quick death and achieve very little.
Knowing that the so-called official "IWD website" is 'something of a smoke and mirrors affair compared with the reputable UN Women site, I did a little desktop research into the gender balance of the boards and leadership teams of the 2022 IWD partners, all of whom have proudly committed to #BreakTheBias.
While these organisations appear to be culturally diverse (at least from a white Australian perspective), the percentage of female leaders/board members ranged from just 11% to 33%, well below the 40% which has become the de-facto standard for best practice.
Table – Gender balance on the boards and leadership teams of IWD2022 Partners
Still curious that a 200-year-old global tractor business and tech companies would put themselves out there as champions of gender and diversity. I looked them up on the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. This is what I found.
John Deere is the brand name of Deere & Company, an American corporation that manufactures agricultural and related equipment, is listed on the New York Stock Exchange and ranks in the Fortune 500. In Australia John Deere Limited employs 192 people of which 38% are women. A recent positive trend in promoting women shows most management categories have at least 30% female representation and 50% of machinery drivers and operators are women. However, according to WGEA, the company does not offer paid primary carers leave in contrast to the 60%+ of Australian employers who do.
HCL Australia Services Pty Ltd is a subsidiary of the giant HCL Technologies, which is among the top 20 largest publicly traded companies in India with a market capitalisation of $50 billion. In Australia HCL employs 1,725 people of which 20% are female. Just 12.5% of all managers are female and the promotion of women appears to be static across all levels. It does offer paid primary carers leave.
And now to Microsoft, which owns LinkedIn. Microsoft in Australia employees 1,985 people of which 32% are female. Women represent 35% of the managers group and it does offer primary carers leave. So a better set of statistics and certainly with greater credentials in the gender space.
As Angela Priestly of Women's Agenda succinctly put it in her excellent article (Weapons of Mass Distraction.
A few words to hide behind, an easy hashtag to highlight what you hope will be achieved, without actually articularly how it will happen. Perhaps it’s even worse? A weapon of distraction intentionally designed to enable big businesses and governments to avoid addressing more challenging and political matters on the 8th March every year?
Let's just say that in 2023 I am hoping for great gains from these three companies who are championing #BreaktheBias for a gender equal world in 2022.