Page 31 - Australian Defence Magazine Aug 2019
P. 31

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The report cites other reasons why women leave defence industry; lack of access to child-care or flexible working arrangements, feeling that other organ- isations better value their skill set, and perceptual barriers such as ‘subject to implicit bias’.
“In a meeting where I was questioning pro- cesses that had led to poor outcomes, a senior male stood up, and said ‘Well what the eff would you know about any of this anyway, missy,” an interview participant said.
“We generally know which compa- nies are the boys’ clubs,” another said. “It’s pretty clear that this is a culture that comes from the leadership. And once you have earned that reputation it can be pretty hard to change.”
It is easy to point out the need for change, but harder to say how it can be done. Whilst some recommendations are long-term, such as a need to examine and potentially change workplace culture, there are two short-term actions all com- panies in the industry can make to better retain skilled women.
First, create flexible working condi- tions. Current Australian parental leave laws and widespread company policies preclude men from taking equal pater- nity leave. This places the burden of ex- pectation on women to take time off to raise kids. Until law and workplace cul- ture changes across Australia, defence industry can offer flexible conditions to women to offset this burden of expecta- tion and retain a greater number of fe- male employees.
Second, set up mentoring arrange- ments. Defence has successfully used this approach to hire and retain Indigenous employees. The report argues that similar mentoring arrangements change gender norms and workplace culture over the long term if junior women are mentored by se- nior men, or if junior men are mentored by senior women.
L-R Sam Crompvoets of Rapid Context, Corrie Roberts of Thales Australia, Katherine Ziesing of ADM, Alexandra Dickie of UNSW, Erica Hediger of The Proving Ground and Katherine Post of Rapid Context at the launch of the report at Parliament House | August 2019 | 31

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