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Gender equality isn't hard

By Conrad Liveris - posted Monday, 8 December 2014

I am often confused about the lack of progress on gender equality.

Hitting the targets and finding capable and qualified women to fill leadership roles just isn't hard for me and my network.

Earlier this year for a non-profit I chair I was asked to find some candidates for a vacancy on our board. Ideally, this person would have a background in accounting and finance.


I made some calls to my network across the big four accounting firms and banks to give me some names. The qualifications I asked for were that we were looking for someone with a growing corporate network, preferably on the younger side but also had some seniority within their work.

We mostly wanted someone ambitious and who would fit our culture.

60 per cent of the names given to me were women. We ended up appointing a woman.

Chasing gender equality was not hard for us, but chairing the board of a major listed corporation is probably different.

Last month I met with a CEO who was looking for more capable women in his organisation. I asked him a simple question: why has it taken you so long to consider this?

He said it had fallen by the wayside, while he recognised it was important he could not see the direct relevance to his business. The industry he operates in is facing market adversity and everyone is looking for a different way to either stay solvent or get that tiny bit ahead.


He has realised that talent is not gendered. The level of women attaining commercially strategic education passed 50 per cent long ago, he is one of a growing number of men who realise that women and their contributions must be elevated.

Equal, or near-on equal, levels of men and women in leadership should be the norm.

Take earlier this week, when the chairman of Mirvac John Mulcahy announced that Christine Bartlett and Samantha Mostyn were being appointed to the board. Reading their bios it is easy to see why they were appointed.

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About the Author

Conrad Liveris is a Community Advocate and Operations Analyst, working in business development and policy with a focus on gender equality and intergenerational issues.

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