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Advice from some of women of AATIS

This Sunday, 8th March, is International Women’s Day.

Every year, we get together and we talk about how much better things are getting for women in Australia. And it’s true, after ten years in my career I definitely agree that things are better, however I don’t think better is enough, and I know we can do better. 

I’m hoping that by sharing some of the ways that AATIS has created a gender equal work place, more women around Australia – particularly those in the Industry and trades – can benefit from this ‘better’ that some of us are lucky to experience in our workplace every day.

It has to come from the top.

According to this article from the Financial Review,

“Heidrick & Struggles analysed the country’s top 50 listed companies and found that women account for 14 per cent of operational roles at the senior leadership level, and 16 per cent of all chief financial officer positions.”

Both men and women start out with similar determination in their roles, and leadership goals. Seeing a true gender balance in leadership is a key way to allow both men and women feel secure within their organisation and to empower them to work towards their career aspirations.

Our Director, Dr Peta Skujins, has been with the organisation since 2017. In 2019, she was promoted to the position of Director and is passionate about gender equality in her workplace and across the apprenticeships and traineeships sector.

“I have been extremely fortunate in my career to have been supported by both female and male managers, and have never been discriminated against in my direct workplace. I feel lucky to work with incredible people who are willing to stand up and support others when they see harassment or discrimination happening, which I know was something that helped me out a lot in my early career in some uncomfortable situations. I hope to support everyone I work with, regardless of gender, race or any other factor, in the same or a better way than how I have been treated,” she said.

Flexible working hours.

When looking into the Australian gender pay gap, which currently sits at 13.9%, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency attributed here several reasons that could be address by a flexible workplace.

  • “women’s disproportionate share of unpaid caring and domestic work
  • lack of workplace flexibility to accommodate caring and other responsibilities, especially in senior roles”

In order to have a truly gender equal workplace, it’s crucial that both parents (men and women) are provided fair treatment when having provide care for their children. Gender equality is a whole of community effort, and if men and women are better enabled to split the role of caring for a child, this can only support women and their careers.

“Working in a flexible workplace allowed me to support my wife on both occasions as she transitioned back to work after our children were born. Having the ability to change my hours to fit around our new schedule was integral to that smooth transition. Now with primary school aged children, that same flexible workplace has allowed my wife and I to not only share drop off and pick up duties, but more importantly allows us to be involved in the extra circular activates of our children,” Andrew Robson, AATIS Account and Data Manager.

"As a full-time working mum, being able to pick-up and drop-off my kid early is such a benefit. It helps me spend quality time with him while being able to work and pursue a career that I love. My husband also has flexible hours which enables this. It's really important for me to work with employers who value this, and I'm incredibly fortunate to be working with one,” Aditi Narayanan, AATIS Marketing Manager.

Sometimes, it’s the little things.

Working in male dominated work places can be very challenging as a woman. Even if males dominate only the management team, simple actions of gender bias can often be overlooked. Here are a few small ways you can make sure you’re creating an equal environment for all of your staff. 

  • Don’t only ask the women do the job of a secretary if it’s not their job. The amount of times I’ve seen the most senior women in the room be asked to make the coffee or to clear the table in a room full of males is, well, too many. The best way to ensure you are being reasonable is to ask the most junior person in the room or the person with whom it is most convenient (sitting next to the door etc).
  • Make sure the women’s bathrooms are clear and accessible. This especially applies on trade sites. Even if you only have a few women on your team, avoid using it as a storage closet and make sure it is cleaned daily. Also, make it clear that it is for women only!
  • Ask. If you think you could be doing things better, you probably could be. The only way to know is to ask. Be mindful that not all women will be eager to put their hand up and complain, so frame it in a way that allows them to feel secure and that they can be honest and open.

“Early in my career, I worked at Woolworths. Back then we had to wear skirts, which was not very conducive with the fruit and veg section I worked in. We put in a business case, and we were then allowed to wear shorts. It made a huge difference, and just made my job so much easier. Little things like that can really impact your attitude to work, especially when you’re young,” Lynda Green, AATIS Training Package Content Officer.

International Women’s Day is a fantastic way for us to reflect on the changes that have been implemented to allow for a more equal society, and to assess what else we can do to continue.

My final words of wisdom are this. No one should be treated differently based on their age, their appearance or their gender.  I have found myself very lucky to be in a workplace that merits me on my ability to do my job, and not fill a chair from 9-5 or make a coffee (although my coffee skills are pretty good). My hope is that one day, this isn’t luck and is available to every woman who is capable to do her job.

We are so close, but we are not there yet.

Happy International Women’s Day everyone.

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This article was written by Cass Hoult, AATIS Communications Manager. Cass works fulltime with AATIS and thanks to flexible working arrangements she is able to balance being a single mum to her two young children, working in a career that she loves and having financial independence.

Resources:

International Women’s Day

Workplace Gender Equality Agency

Safe Work Australia

International Men’s Day