Avril Henry is one of Australia’s leading experts on achieving gender equality and diversity in the workplace. In 2013 she was appointed as an advisor to the Chief of Army on projects including gender diversity, values and culture.
As with the previous two books in her Leadership Revelation Series, Avril has again accessed and interviewed a range of inspiring contributors and shares with us her key findings and trends, this time examining how we can achieve the gender tipping point.
"A tipping point is that moment in time when a collection of ideas and behaviours reach an acceptance by more than a few people that something is a good idea worth pursuing, and it goes from a small group of committed people believing in something and supporting it, to everyone wanting to be part of it. Once this happens it spreads faster than an Australian bushfire!" she says.
In her book, Avril Henry shares the views of 91 successful female leaders from 10 countries and across four generations.
Other key findings include:
* Women need to become greater, more active champions of other women. Women need to recognise that the pie is big enough for everyone, and to shift from a "scarcity mentality" to one of "abundance"
* The distinct generational shift from Veteran women not being "allowed" to work, to Baby Boomer women fitting into the male environment to survive and progress, to Generation X women demanding greater support to enable combining motherhood and a meaningful career (not just a job), to Generation Y demanding equal pay and equal promotional opportunities, or they will simply not join the organisation
* Men are promoted on potential, while women are promoted on proven performance. Men are better at self-promotion and apply for a job if they can spell the job title, women wait until they meet 100% of the criteria, and then in my opinion there is nothing to learn
* Lack of respect for women leaders is rife, and is at the heart of the problem for women. Note comments made about Australian female leaders in recent time, e.g. Anna Bligh, Julia Gillard and Julie Bishop
* Leaders need to take care of all of the people, not just a select group!
* Unless organisations and men practice active inclusion of women, they may well make the mistake of unintentional exclusion
In 2014, just 14% of delegates at the World Economic Forum were women. Ironically, one of the key issues being addressed was how improving gender balance in the workplace could positively impact the bottom line of business and economies around the word.
Avril Henry believes that small incremental changes executed consistently and done well, create momentum that enables the achievement of a tipping point and that senior male leaders sponsoring women will have the greatest immediate impact on the number of women in senior positions.