Jen Dalitz

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Gender balance and Innovation: What's wrong with this picture?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Three emails have hit my inbox this week on the topic of innovation: one from the Australian Institute of Management seeking participation in its innovation survey; another from Barbara Annis' office in New York with news of her forthcoming keynote speech at SAP's Global Diversity Days that will keynote will articulate the compelling business case of the diverse organization, examine gender differences through a scientific lens, and illustrate the competitive advantage achieved through inclusion; and this one from a colleague with photos of the national executive and branch councils of the Australian Industry Group:




 In case you were unaware, according to the AIG website,

"The Australian Industry Group (Ai Group) is a peak industry association in Australia which along with its affiliates represents the interests of more than 60,000 businesses in an expanding range of sectors including: manufacturing; engineering; construction; automotive; food; transport; information technology; telecommunications; call centres; labour hire; printing; defence; mining equipment and supplies; airlines; and other industries. The businesses which we represent employ more than 1 million employees.

We are an organisation committed to helping Australian industry with a focus on building competitive and sustainable industries through global integration, skills development, productive and flexible workplace relations, infrastructure development and innovation. Our legitimacy comes also from our role in and connection with the broader community."

Which makes one wonder... for all of the female business owners, employers and entrepreneurs out there... how connected do you feel to your industry body which has only 3 female and 114 male representives in its National Executive and Branch Office.

And at a time when innovation is key for manufacturers, retailers and all employers... where is the diversity in thinking coming from on these leadership teams?

Is something wrong with this picture?  And if so, how should it be addressed?

Jennifr commented on 05-Oct-2012 08:20 AM
I went for an interview with these guys. It was embarrassing - two women HR Manager and a state manager. The national Manager was male. He talked down to me and to them. He talked over the top of them and they cowered. He would ask me. Question and then argue with my answer. He talked so much about what he thought that we ran out of time and I had no time to ask anything. I walked out knowing how he felt about women and that the person who got the role would be male middle aged and known to him. I would never promote this organisation. Sadly someone I know we'll has a role there and I think he's unaware of all of this.
Many men don't question why no women.
Sally commented on 05-Oct-2012 08:32 AM
90% of household purchasing decisions are made by women. Business exist to provide goods and services. This "peak industry association" is not helping its constituents be competitive if it doesn't adequately provide insight into what women want and how they make decisions.
Jen Dalitz commented on 05-Oct-2012 09:04 AM
Good insights Sally... Though as Jennifr pointers out maybe the men on this team are blind to it!
Fiona commented on 27-Oct-2012 08:53 AM
Not much of a racial mix either. Sadly, doesn't represent our business community...but does represent the CEO community. Drawing attention to the in appropriateness of the mix is a good start.
Jenny MacKinnon commented on 27-Oct-2012 08:01 PM
I went for a job at a similar peak organisation starting with the letter V. The (female, unfortunately) manager asked me directly whether I had children. When I flatly said "yes" (there's no way to answer a question like that well), and I let the silence fill the void, she pressed on, wanting me to tell her more. I complained but I'm pretty sure she already had another, male, candidate lined up. Innovation. One of the things that happens with innovation and gender is if a man does it, it's innovative (even if it's not really, might just be a tweak on an old idea), but if a woman does it, it's striking it lucky. Could go on forever, but would rather put time into building my innovative business!
TheSheEO commented on 27-Oct-2012 08:12 PM
Looking back at this post, and all your comments, it's pretty embarrassing that we find this situation. Calling it out, loud and proud, is of course a good starting point... but who really wants to hear this?
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