Hands up if you’ve attended business a meeting this week where you were the only woman present. Ok for some of you I will accept that maybe there was one other. Now what about you ladies in investment banking, engineering or resources? Tell me about it – being the only woman is not just a weekly occurrence, it’s a daily one. I don’t have a problem working in a man’s world but sometimes – just once in a while – wouldn’t it be nice to see a little more diversity in the workplace? Not only do women change the corporate culture but they have so much to contribute.
If however, like the many directors on Australian boards these days, you were searching for some inspiration, can we suggest you look up “The Power of 100″ a book which features the exceptional women who have shaped Australia’s past, present and presumably future. The book was conceived by Westpac as a way to celebrate the achievement of women and to raise money for UN Women. It was launched last night on the centenary of International Woman’s Day at an invitation only event which took place at Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art and was MC’d by Ita Buttrose who is among the many inspiring women featured.
Westpac CEO Gail Kelly and the Hon Tanya Plibersek the Federal Minister for Social Inclusion each took the podium to speak about different aspects of women’s progress over the past 100 years. Thirteen of the 100 women featured in the book, including Lane Beachley, Carla Zampatti and Sam Moyston, were on hand to receive their own personal copy of the book. Other notable women attending were the Hon Julie Bishop, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, QBE Chair Belinda Hutchinson and Professor Kim Walker Dean of Music at Sydney’s Conservatorium of Music.
It was an electric night with much talk among attendees about Gail Kelly’s triumph on ABC’s Q&A earlier in the week. I had the opportunity to chat with Gail who in her own approachable way spoke enthusiastically about Westpac’s introduction of targets for women in management.
Of course I had to ask about her outfit which was the most amazing incandescent mauve and red print dress by Roberto Cavalli. Personally, I couldn’t imagine a more appropriate outfit for the evening or a better way to demonstrate the colour and diversity that women like Gail Kelly (and the many others present on the night) contribute to Australia’s workforce and community. Here’s to Gail Kelly and Westpac for giving us a few more good reasons why more women should be represented in Australia’s top ranks.