Local business woman, Shivani Gupta has thrown down a challenge to Hunter businesses to mark International Womens Day (today) by committing to three actions to better invest in and support the women in their organisation.
Shivani says local women are making a tremendous contribution to the success of businesses across the region, but more needs to be done to develop that contribution for greater business success.
“Today is a great day for the business community, men and women, to recognise and celebrate the achievements of the women in their organisation,” Shivani said.
“What would be even better is for businesses to commit to some real action to enable women to achieve more for their businesses.”
Shivani says more businesses are recognising the need for diversity and equity strategies and policies because that attracts and retains talent and provides better alignment with the needs of customers.
“Having a diversity and inclusion strategy is great, but what is needed is action.”
She says the theme of this year’s International Womens Day is leave no woman behind.
Shivani said the reality is women are still behind in terms of pay equity and representation at senior levels and access to development opportunities despite making up more than half the workforce.
She says there are many practical ways organisations can help attract, retain and foster women in their workplace. Leave and childcare policies, flexible work arrangements, professional development programs for women and even affirmative action policies and targets for the promotion of women are all practical examples of things that can make a real difference for women and men.
“Research shows that when women comprise 50 per cent of a board, the performance of that board is better than male-dominated boards. The same logic applies to senior management,” Shivani said.
“Women comprise 60 per cent of postgraduate students in Australia, so there’ll be even more women in business in the future.
“Hunter businesses have a large, educated talent pool that is not being properly tapped into to extract its full potential.”
She says women also need to support each other to achieve greater success.
“Networking organisations such as Gen Collective and the Equal Futures project are doing a great job in fostering that support,” Shivani said.
Shivani chose International Womens Day to launch her next three-month group mentoring program, which is limited to 12 women.
“Mentoring is a practical way to empower women to also help themselves to take advantage of opportunities,” Shivani said.
“One practical element of mentoring is giving women the skills and confidence to negotiate pay equity rather than wait for their organisation to do so.”
International Women’s Day is annually held on March 8 to celebrate women’s achievements throughout history and across nations. It is also known as the United Nations (UN) Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.
“It is in the long-term interests of men and women and of businesses that we use days like today to create lasting, beneficial action,” Shivani said.
IMAGE |Shivani Gupta has thrown down a challenge to Hunter businesses to mark International Womens Day.