While steps are being made in the right direction in workplace equality, we have a tendency to congratulate ourselves and claim success too soon and risk a drop off in momentum and results.

As we enter 2015, we can look back at some exciting progress in workplace diversity and gender equity but we must maintain the focus as the situation is still far from satisfactory.

Around the world, as well as here in Australia, we have seen positive change in what are considered the accepted norms of employment and employee development.

  • In his State of The Union speech last month, Barack Obama singled out equal pay for women as a core issue, “Women should be paid the same as men for doing the same work...its 2015, its time!”
  • Finally here in Australia, as last year wound down (you may have missed it amid the Christmas celebrations) Deloitte Australia announced a new CEO: Cindy Hook, becoming the first of the “Big Four” Accountancy firms to appoint a woman to the top job. 

I’m very excited about the possibilities for the year ahead. But I'm worried if we pop the champagne cork too soon, we will pull up well short of the finish line. There's still a lot to do. As Deb Owen recently wrote in the Huffington Post, women “...face a continuing tendency to be locked out of traditional leadership positions and continue to earn an average of three-quarters less than men even with the same education in the same occupation”,  we find that the situation is as bad if not worse in Australia:

  • In Australia the pay gap between men and women remains 17 per cent and has done for twenty years (according to WGEA - WorkPlace Gender Equality Agency)
  • While 60 per cent of all Australian University graduates are women, they hold only 10 per cent of executive management positions (Bain & Company)
  • In fact, in 2013, women in the IT industry occupy only seven per cent of VP positions or above (WGEA)

I really hope 2015 goes down in history as the  turning point. We owe it to ourselves to make this a priority, step up the focus and accelerate the change.

What would you like your organisation to do this year and what role are you going to play?

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