Women in Finance Breakfast
June 22, 2015
A cross cultural panel discussion on gender equality in the workplace was hosted by Clayton Utz and Good Return in Sydney this morning. Clayton Utz welcomed our guests into their grand boardroom with a backdrop of Sydney Harbour to hear a discussion with distinguished panelists: Anne Myers, Margaret Wright, Luzviminda (Luz) Coronado and Sandra Cortis, facilitated by Amanda Webb.
Luz offered fascinating insight into gender equality in the Philippines. Luz spoke proudly about the client base of her organisation, St. Elizabeth Community Development Program Inc (SECDEP) which caters almost exclusively to women. Passionate about women’s empowerment and serving the poor, Luz manages a financial service provider with more than 10,000 clients.
When asked to reflect on gender equality in the Philippines, Luz spoke of women’s ability and willingness to assert themselves in the workplace. Luz informed the audience “The [remuneration] structures in the Philippines are the same for women and men.” With a pay gap of 30% in the financial services industry in Australia, this insight was revealing for an audience seeking to redress the imbalance in this industry.
Anne Myers, finance and technology industry executive with over 30 years’ experience, gave Australia a C+ for gender equality in the workplace, recognizing that progress had been made but there was much ground yet to cover in the campaign for equality.
Reflecting on interviews conducted with top CEOs for her book Mistakes Happen – Make the Most of Them, Margaret provided expert insight and anecdotes to answer questions from the audience around broadening their expertise and breaking the glass ceiling. Margaret was the first female partner and a national practice leader at KPMG Australia. She was also a member of the Auditing Standards Board in Australia. Margaret’s book demonstrates the power of learning through analysing both successes and failures – the lessons from which she gladly shares. Margaret is also a Director of World Education and chairs our Audit Committee.
Luz recounted the moment she first identified gender bias, citing a childhood experience of wanting to drive a car and being told driving was “the work of a man.” Ever resourceful, Luz persisted, receiving secret driving lessons and surprising her family with her new skills.
Anne Myers was acquainted with the struggle for gender equality from an early age, speaking of the profound frustration her mother felt at having to resign from her CSIRO position after marriage. Anne spoke of the importance of bringing to the attention of our colleagues the unconscious bias which pervades our communication. Discrimination is often a product of unconscious socialization and Anne noted that bringing these issues to the conscious attention of our colleagues in a respectful way can be a positive experience for both parties.
Sondra Cortis reminded us of dress codes for women that prohibited pant suits, a relic of our not too distant past! Sondra has held a number of senior Finance roles across the Westpac Group. She is currently the Chief Financial Officer of Westpac Pacific and Chairman of the Westpac Bank of Samoa Limited.
The audience left inspired and entertained by our esteemed panelists and wonderful facilitator Amanda Webb. Amanda had the audience laughing and nodding knowingly as our panelists and guests shared their stories. It was an excellent event which highlighted how far we have yet to go to achieve gender equality in the workplace, and in turn inspired all present to strive to achieve that goal. As our speakers left the stage, inspired discussions continued regarding what equality might look like and a need to redress expectations placed on men to enable women to thrive.
Good Return would like to thank the panelists for delivering such an enlightening, amusing and inspirational discussion on gender equality. Our panelists generously donated their time and expertise and Clayton Utz provided our guests with breakfast, tea, coffee and a spectacular view! Their hospitality and ongoing support is kindly appreciated.