Why we need bold change

From Annabel Dolphin, Miles Dolphin Consulting Group

This year International Women’s Day 2017 is asking us to #BeBoldForChange and to create a better world through action that promotes a more gender inclusive world.

I am in a privileged position to hear all of the arguments for and against action for change. I say privileged because it is important that these different opinions are heard and valued. It gives us insight into the journey we must undertake and the obstacles we must overcome if we are to arrive at our destination of parity. In truth, most of the arguments against are not about why we need to achieve gender parity or what that looks like, but on the how it is achieved.

The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186 – something that we shouldn’t accept. Why? The simple fact is that gender balance will help us to improve the social, economic and political challenges we have ahead of us. Similarly, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result.

I have three real examples of how we can all benefit – socially, economically and politically – if we look at achieving gender parity as a way to achieve prosperity for all.

AFL and the $22 trillion question

In the McKinsey Report, The Power of Parity, it specifically highlights how advancing women’s equality can add $12 trillion to global growth by 2025 if we simply focus on equality in work, access to essential services and economic opportunity, legal protection and political voice as well as physical security and autonomy. Now, tell me why we still have to justify actions to bridge the gender gap?

In the World Economic Forum, The Global Gender Gap Report 2016, Australia ranks 46 out of 144 countries well behind the likes of Rwanda, Slovenia and Nicaragua who all made the Top 10.  In Australia, we score strongly in educational attainment but we have much ground to cover in workforce participation, income equality, leadership representation and political empowerment.

What does Australian Football League (AFL) have to do with the $22 trillion dollar question? Last week, I heard Mike Fitzpatrick, Chair of the AFL, discuss how he led the 150 year old AFL organisation through the introduction of the women’s game. This historic milestone didn’t happen by accident. It was achieved through the vision and persistence of a number of female directors as well as the effort of the administration to ensure that it would succeed. This has delivered bumper television ratings, an organic growth of their game and a new fan base. All by challenging and changing the status quo. Is it time that you started to challenge your thinking?

The Hidden Cost of Domestic Violence

Why have I included domestic violence? Up until recently, I hadn’t really given it much thought on how it impacts women’s participation in the workplace. Gender inequality is cited by Australian Institute of Family Studies as a key determinant or factor that underpins violence against women.

The cost of violence against women is high and increasing in Australia. In the 2015 report by PWC, “A high price to pay: The economic case for preventing violence against women” they estimated that violence against women costs $21.7 billion a year, with victims bearing the primary burden of this cost. Governments (national and State and Territory) bear the second biggest cost burden, estimated at $7.8 billion a year, comprising health, administration and social welfare costs.

To put this in real terms, on average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner in Australia, it is the single largest driver of homelessness for women and results in a police call-out on average once every two minutes across the country. More than smoking or obesity, domestic and family violence is the leading preventable cause of death, disability and illness in women aged 15 to 44 years.

Whilst men will also face domestic violence, the frequency and severity for women is far outweighed by the male counterparts. So whilst we want to increase participation, we also need to ensure that they are able to contribute to their fullest potential.

Greater participation in the workforce gives women the independence, the social network and financial freedom to make different choices – especially if the workplace provides the practical and emotional support to deal with such a complex issue.

Fixing Our Broken System

The most revealing of where we need to look is with the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer results which is a global survey that shows trust is in crisis around the world. You wouldn’t be surprised to know that not only is Australia not immune.

The survey looks at trust in four key institutions — business, government, NGOs, and media. Our results show a decline across all four. The system is failing – we have had multiple governments not able to deliver needed reform, increased fear feeding populist viewpoints rather than finding real solutions to complex issues. We do not trust the information reported to us, with “loose” fact reporting and the rise of “fake” news on social media. Last and most relevant to us, is our business leaders who ranked one of the lowest on the scale. Any wonder, with tales of bizarre and very public poor behaviour unbecoming of what you would expect of a CEO. Whilst we respect that we are all human, the lack of consequences for this behaviour leads the mass public to wonder why we should trust them. Channel 7’s ongoing and very public saga is a perfect example.

Fixing the trust crisis, means that we have to roll up our sleeves and start to build credibility, do what we say we will do, be visible in our leadership, be consistent and above all make personal connections. It is time to step out from behind the computer screens and connect on a genuine level.


I hope that you have been inspired to think about gender parity differently and to be a leader within your own circles of influence. If you are stuck with what you can do, the McKinsey Power of Parity has 75 different types of interventions that can be evaluated and tailed to suit the context of your workplace.

It will be through action of many that will make our world better. Enjoy IWD in your region and if you can’t make an event, perhaps start small by sharing some videos with your family or team to acknowledge International Women’s Day.