Celebrated every year on 8 March, International Women’s Day (IWD) is an opportunity to reflect on the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, as well as a global call to action for accelerating women's equality.
At IAG we recognise that having a gender balanced workplace contributes to the diversity of thought we need to best service our customers and communities. That’s why gender equity is such a strong focus in our Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging strategy.
This IWD, we’re taking the opportunity to celebrate women’s achievements and promote gender diversity in our organisation through a week of events and activities inspired by this year’s theme, #ChooseToChallenge, which is about calling out gender bias and inequity when things don’t seem right or fair.
Actively supporting women at IAG … every day of the year.
Our IWD activities are led by the Celebrating Women at IAG Employee Network Group (ENG).
IAG has a range of ENGs, led by passionate employees from across our business who share common values, experiences or identify as allies to the communites they represent. The Celebrating Women ENG aims to actively support women at all stages in their careers, raise visibility and awareness of gender equity and help drive positive change for women.
We spoke to Helen Pennock and Hannah Barrett, who lead the Celebrating Women ENG, about what’s planned this week for our people and why celebrating IWD is important.
Hello Helen and Hannah, tell us about how IAG is celebrating IWD and what you’re hoping to achieve through the events.
Helen: Since Monday is a public holiday in several states, we have a panel event on Tuesday hosted by our Group Executive of People, Performance and Reputation, Christine Stasi. This event will focus on why everyone benefits from gender equity and how ‘choosing to challenge’ will help us as an organisation to be ‘ready for anything’.
We’re also running a range of fun activities encouraging people to think about gender equity and share their thoughts, including a ‘Choose to Challenge’ selfie competition where employees share their ‘Choose to Challenge’ pledge. We’re also encouraging people to use the IAG Recognition Platform to send a ‘heartfelt thanks’ (i.e. a little thank you note) to either an insprirational woman or a gender equity advocate -- we’re really just trying to drive a culture of recognition and thanking people.
What we are really trying to achieve, whether it’s through events or communication pieces, is a positive and safe conversation – it’s about highlighting the changes we need to make in a fun, informative way and achieving positive and productive conversation.
Hannah: One of the things that we’ve been really keen to emphasise again and again this year is that celebrating women at IAG and striving for gender equity isn’t just beneficial for women. We want to include all genders in this conversation, and to achieve that we’ve made sure that all of our events and acitivites are really inclusive. They’re all fully virtual, they’re open for all genders to attend and we’ve tried to set them at times that are friendly for all our people, regardless of their timezone. We’re also recording them all as well, so if people aren’t able to attend at the live time, they’ll still have access to go back and watch them.
What are you choosing to challenge this year?
Helen: I #ChoosetoChallenge myself, which means recognising my imposter syndrome, knowing that my internal voice has a purpose and sometimes it serves me and keeps me safe, but other times she just needs to shush and get out of my way.
Hannah: My personal commitment this year is to #ChooseToChallenge myself and others to continue to listen to and engage with diverse voices around equity, and to speak up and act when I feel those voices are not being heard.
Why is it still important to have events to champion women?
Helen: There’s so many reasons – it’s important to raise awareness that we, as a society and as a workplace, are not quite equitable yet. There’s still issues with pay parity, there’s still not full representation of women in senior management, the divvying up of domestic labour and childcare is still very much reliant on women. So, in my opinion, having an event just creates that kind of positive, safe space where we can discuss some issues, raise awareness.
Hannah: Because we’re awesome! We are making some good strides but it’s slow-going. I think in the past people often spoke about how we need to make sure women are empowered and are confident in meetings and it was all about fixing the person and giving the person skills. Now we’re all about fixing the system, instead of making it all about teaching someone to have the confidence to speak, it’s about making sure that people listen.
We also often hear people saying that we need to make a more gender equal world for future generations and it makes me think, “what about us? We’re living in this world now!” It’s terrific to build a gender equal world for future generations but in actual fact we’re living in a world right now that isn’t gender equal. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate days like today, because people often see it as a long term approach but we actually need to take action straightaway.
What else is IAG doing for women, outside of International Women’s Day?
Helen: IAG has several Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging targets that centre around gender equity. For example, we have a women in senior management target, so we’re aiming to be at 50% by 2023. At the end of last year we were at 40% so we’re moving in the right direction but there’s quite a lot of work to be done.
We also have programs within IAG, like the game changers program, which is about setting up a pipeline of female talent to prepare women for more senior roles. We also have initiatives in place to make sure we proactively hire women and consistently role model female leadership, for example we have strong female representation on our board, which currently sits at 40%.
Hannah: This definitely isn’t a one day of the year or one week of the year kind of thing at IAG. Within our Celebrating Women ENG, we do this all year round. Every week, we profile some of our amazing women (and we have a lot of them at IAG!). We also host events and activities, including a recent series sharing the career stories of IAG women across our Australia, New Zealand and Singapore sites and featuring a range of senior leaders as guest mentors. And our partnership with Code like a Girl is a good example of one of our Women in Tech initiatives. Through Code Like a Girl, IAG offers internships and mentoring to young women interested in a career in technology.