On Friday evening, South Australia’s networking club for young women presented “2040: Women, Power & The Future of Work” as part of Adelaide’s future-focused Open State festival.
An all-star panel featuring Property Council of Australia SA executive director Daniel Gannon, arts consultant and digital entrepreneur Kate Gould, former Greens Senator Robert Simms and The Advertiser’s State Editor Tory Shepherd joined event emcee and SKY News Adelaide presenter, Stacey Lee, for an evening of insightful, inspiring and entertaining discussion about our state, gender roles and the future of work in the technology age.
The broader conversation – women and female participation in the workplace – is close to my heart. I’m consistently disappointed by the gender pay gap and other indicators that suggest we have a way to go to achieve equality for men and women in Australia today. It’s one of the reasons I founded Spence Club: a group for professional women who aspire to leadership roles – and a peer support network of women who want to be each other’s cheerleaders, so we can turn the idea of women not supporting women on its head.
The evening took many interesting turns – and you can catch up on some of the best moments of the night using the #spenceqanda hashtag on Twitter – however these are a few of my favourite takeaways from the evening.
1. When more women are in leadership roles, our collective IQ is higher
Australian Property Council SA executive director Daniel Gannon reinforced the point that diversity – and more equal representation of men and women, both on Boards and in leadership roles within companies more generally – has been proven time and again to be good for business. He said the current statistics, such as the fact that there are more men named John, Peter and David running ASX 200 companies than there are women, suggested that quotas are worth considering because the shift to more equal representation is happening far too slowly.
2. Under 35s must be restless for change rather than accepting the status quo
Arts consultant and digital entrepreneur Kate Gould predicted it will be millennials and younger generations who champion more flexible working arrangements and a more equal distribution of paid and domestic duties between men and women. She said technology will play an integral role, with the trend towards more women, in particular, heading down the entrepreneurial path, because of the flexibility it offers.
3. The four day working week is worth considering
Robert Simms said the four day working week was an idea worth considering – and could boost productivity and staff morale. He said more flexibility around how days were structured might differ between workplaces and from one person to another and could, for example, involve working five shorter days around school hours.
4. Traditionally male-dominated industries such as STEM present huge opportunities for the state – and for women
Tory Shepherd said South Australia had been a traditionally progressive state – and male-dominated industries such as STEM now presented huge opportunities, both for the state and for women. She said growth of the space industry, in particular, had massive potential, citing European rocket scientist Flavia Tata Nardini, who has made Adelaide home, as an inspiring role model for girls.
Thank you to all involved in planning this event, as well as the outstanding panel of SA leaders who took part, and our event sponsors Penfolds and Craig Linke Bespoke Building. Thanks also to Open State for including Spence Club’s flagship Q&A event as part of this year’s festival program.
Interested in what I do? I run my own brand communication agency, KIS Communications. I work with brands and businesses in Adelaide, as well as interstate and overseas, helping them to tell a more compelling brand story to elevate their recognition and performance in an often saturated marketplace. Get in touch at [email protected].