International Women’s Day: We’ve come so far, but have we come far enough?
by Karen Crouch, CEO of Feros Care
Since the beginning of International Women’s Day in 1907, we have come so far. So much has been achieved.
Australia is truly a lucky country – women can vote, women can choose their career, women can choose what they do with their own bodies and women can choose who they marry.
But have we come far enough? Take a deeper look.
There is still a 22% pay gender gap in this country, and only 39% of Board positions are occupied by women*.
Beyond the workplace, violence against women is on the increase. Older women have the highest growth rate of homelessness in this country**.
If we cast our gaze wider to the international setting, gender inequality is even more frightening. 87,000 women are killed each year because they are women; 45 countries have no laws against domestic violence***; and the trafficking of girls still exists today.
This is exactly why we need to #BreakTheBias. Why we still need to challenge the status quo, and ensure women are present at every level in the organisation and around every decision-making table.
My career began in emergency departments and intensive care units. I knew early on that nursing would be my vocation. There is no greater privilege to care for your fellow human, to be the first person to hold a new baby or be the last person to hold someone’s hand.
But as a trailblazing nurse practitioner, the role challenged the traditional boundaries of medicine. I was confronted with bias, with exclusionary behaviour and professional hostility.
I had never experienced this type of behaviour before, and it is perhaps this experience which has been most influential in forming my attitudes and behaviours as a woman in leadership.
I continue to stand on the shoulders of women who have pioneered before me, who have broken down the bias. Today, I am able to not only have a family but also participate in the workforce and lead such an incredible organisation at Feros Care.
As CEO, I get to see the remarkable efforts of people who selflessly support others to live their best life each and every day. Each of us is inspired every day to stand for challenging the status quo, for breaking down stereotypes. We are ambitious and believe that every person has the right to a happy healthy connected life.
Many of this is from personal connections. In my own life, a dear friend, who is the same age as me, was born only a few months after me with a significant physical and intellectual disability. Our mums are best friends, and she has taught me so much about life – how to pick yourself up and dust yourself off when life gets tough and to be humble.
This friendship also made me realise, at a very young age, that when it comes to embracing diversity and breaking the bias – inclusion is a human right. To me, we don’t get to choose who we do and don’t include. There is no choice, it’s an absolute. Everyone is welcome.
When I see our values in action, such as the recent response to the catastrophic floods, with going above and beyond, exuding kindness and looking out for each other, that’s what I admire the most. These are the behaviours we will carry on in an effort to contribute to the world becoming a more inclusive place, free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination.
We will always be stronger, make better decisions and have great outcomes if we are open to a diversity of views and thinking.