Equality is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue

Sun 8 March 2020

Seven Australian Network on Disability team members stand with their arms held parallel over their chest in an equal sign. #EachForEqual

There were some exciting themes on the table for International Women’s Day (IWD), Sunday 8 March. The UN Women’s global theme was I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights, the UN Women’s multigenerational campaign was Generation Equality, and the International Women’s Day 2020 campaign was #EachforEqual – an equal world is an enabled world. However your workplace celebrates International Women’s Day, be sure to include women with disability!

Disability is a normal part of human diversity, around one in ten women in the Australian workforce has disability. As the likelihood of living with disability increases with age, most of us will be affected by disability at some stage in our life – personally or by someone we know. AND’s #EachforEqual encourages our network to see the importance and benefits of inclusion, what’s yours? 

The IWD 2020 campaign theme is drawn from a notion of 'Collective Individualism'. We are all parts of a whole. Individually, we're responsible for our thoughts and actions – we can actively challenge stereotypes, fight bias and be open to new ways of thinking and working. Collectively, we can then reduce the gender power imbalance and work towards a world of equal opportunity.

The Disabled People’s Organisations Australia (DPOA) and National Women’s Alliances: The Status of Women and Girls with Disability in Australia reports that there has been no improvement in Australian labour force participation of women with disability in the past two decades. There is gender inequality in employment of people with disability with 51% of men working and only 44% of women working, with women experiencing significant disadvantage in access to jobs, types of jobs, and job pay.

These statistics validate that equality is not solely a women's issue, it's a business issue. In the spirit of the #IWD2020 theme, our individual conversations, behaviours and actions do impact on our larger society. We can all choose to be #EachforEqual and make gender-equal boardrooms, government, workplaces, media coverage, sports coverage, health and wealth. 

We encourage organisations to close the gender gap and become leaders of influence and change for all diversity groups, women and people with disability. The World Economic Forum (WEF) have listed five ways organisations can challenge the status quo so that women can achieve their potential:

  1. Pay and benefits might attract, but it takes more to make women stay – aWEF study found that in addition to prioritising pay, women (and men) desire a more tailored work schedule with flexibility in when, where and how they work.
  2. Focus on succession – Leaders should break down gendered career paths, so women aren’t limited to historically female job silos such as communications, HR and support.
  3. Address the double gender-skills gap in STEM – Women are under-represented in some of the fastest growing roles, notably STEM. Roles that have historically been held predominantly by women (such as office administration) are also the most susceptible to disruption by automation. Intervention is needed to prevent further imbalance.
  4. Know the future is a skills world – New technologies are regularly entering the marketplace, creating new skills and new roles. To achieve #EachforEqual everyone needs a chance to build their skills.
  5. Make the commitment to inclusion – As leaders, we all need to demonstrate equality as a business priority – by our words, actions and leadership that ensures no one is left behind.

Creating a culture of “Conscious Inclusion” is the single most powerful thing an organisation can do. Build desire, insight and capacity in everyone including people with disability to make decisions and to LEAD, THINK and ACT to be consciously inclusive.

2020 represents the welcoming of a new decade, and an exciting and unmissable opportunity to mobilise global action to achieve gender equality and human rights for all women.

An equal world is an enabled world.

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