Step up and speak up!

Business Chicks and Women's Agenda are working together to counter the bad week that was Donald Trump winning the US presidential election. They asked women to #stepupandspeak with notes of encouragement for women. Here is mine.

It’s been a couple of weeks since I woke up to a snow covered landscape (being an Aussie currently living in Harrogate, UK) and a new President in the United States. Neither were expected. One was certainly not appreciated!

I guess I had my head in the sand (or snow as it may seem) over Donald Trump becoming President. I don’t consider myself passionate about politics and the campaigning that goes on to choose a new leader, but I am passionate about authentic and ethical leadership and doing the best for a country and its people. Therefore, I couldn’t imagine anyone voting for a person (man or woman) with so little regard for inclusion, diversity and well, humanity, whatever your political leaning is.

I know that political races become the worst kind of slinging matches with the US Election circus providing the worst examples of people with money and power behaving badly, and the worldwide media machine reporting every detail. Was it really important to know that Melania Trump wore a pink Gucci “pussy-bow” blouse to the second presidential debate, and what subsequent meaning this might have? As much as I love fashion, this was rubbish journalism.

I never thought that Hillary should win because she’s a woman. I didn’t and I don’t, even with my heart desperately wanting to see a woman, and a woman with such grace and strength, leading the free world. I thought she would win because of what she believed in and how she wanted to lead one of the world’s most important economies.

Alas, Trump will take the US Presidential oath in January 2017. I am so disappointed with the outcome for the US and the world, even if he is just one man.

It makes me stronger in my resolve to help women be strong and independent. We must not bow out of the workforce when things get tough. We must not use having children as a way out of the current difficulties in the workplace, even when we earn significantly less than our male counterparts. We must not give up our income and financial independence, and rely on (usually) men to provide for us. We must step up.

Women have to vote. We can’t be like the 49% of Americans who chose not to. And how do we vote? We vote by staying and fighting to progress our careers. We vote by bringing our voice and our passions and our unique viewpoint to our communities and our organisations, and to politics. And we vote by fighting to support other women as there is strength and support in numbers. We have to continue the fight that Hillary started in the most public way possible.

I wish it wasn’t a fight. I wish it wasn’t a war, but we are not alone. We must step up and be amongst the beautiful men fighting along with us, and loving us. Our fathers, and husbands, and sons and work colleagues and friends. But we must vote by speaking up. We must vote and not lose momentum.  We must step up and speak. Love must trump hate. It just has to.

Clothes make the woman

Sarah Jessica Parker of Sex and the City and Divorce fame was recently interviewed for Net-A-Porter's Edit magazine on her latest business venture, new line of shoes SJP for Sarah Jessica Parker. Just so you know, I'm not getting paid for any of this, I just admire Sarah as a strong independent woman with her own style and business savvy.

I love this quote from her in the article:

Sometimes I’ll be working on a shop floor and I’ll see a customer trying on a nude pair of the classic SJP ‘Fawn’ pumps, and the conversation will go like this:
Me: ‘Did you see the purple version of those?’
Customer: ‘Oh no, I couldn’t wear those.’
Me: ‘But do you want to wear them?’
Customer: ‘Of course I want to, but I can’t wear them to work.’
Me: ‘Why not?’
Customer: ‘I don’t know.’
Me: ‘Is your brain going to function any less well if you are wearing a purple shoe?’
Customer: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Are you any less capable if you are wearing a purple shoe?’

Customer: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Are you afraid that people will think you are less capable?’
Customer: ‘Kind of. I mean, I work in a conservative place.”
Me: ‘Do any of your [male] colleagues wear a purple tie every now and again?’
Customer: ‘Yeah.’
Me: ‘Do you think any less of them? Do you think that they are not taking their job seriously?’
Customer: ‘No.’
Me: ‘Do you want to try the purple shoe?’
Customer: ‘Of course I want to try the purple shoe! Give me the purple shoe!’”

Cause you gotta wear the purple shoe, and the beautiful floral skirt, the diamante earrings and the crazy glasses

This weekend I was reminded of how you have to dress to suit yourself and your personality and that sometimes you also have to be brave. 

I travelled to London, just for a night, to play tourist with one of my great friends. She was travelling back through London on her way home to Hong Kong. I arrived at the super hip, hipster, too cool for school Ace Hotel to wait quietly in the Lobby. Well....the lobby was jumping. Along with your standard check-in type desk arrangement the large space contained a cafe, a bar and a whole lotta chairs, tables and ottomans along with a really long table that sat about 14-16 people. And the place was packed with millennials working and collaborating. Some with headphones on, working on their code. Others talking animately with others working on design themes, and there were more Apple devices than your average apple store. There was amazing fashion and a creative buzzy vibe.  I just wanted to sit in there and soak it all up.

But the fashion, oh how I loved the fashion. It was dark and edgy and relaxed and plain and ugly and beautiful and unique and individual. It was everything and it represented the purpose and the work and the lifestyle of all those people. If I was to fit in I needed to be a bit more grungy. I had left posh Harrogate in the morn wearing a friggin butterfly on my chest, more suited to a street style blogger heading off to sit second row at a fashion show, rather than the scene I arrived to. But you know what? My outfit was me, and my friend reminded me later how she admired my style and that I am brave and cool. 

I love that when I walk into a business meeting I'm different and unique, while all the men are wearing the same version of a pale blue shirt. Maybe you should try a little bravery with your fashion this week?

P.S. I may have purchased a metallic gold culotte jumpsuit at the Old Spitalfields Markets the next day. You never know when you are going to need to rock some gold.

Living and working overseas. Is it for you?

Tower Bridge, London (photo by me)
I was pursuing Linkekin the other day and saw this post by Elliot Scott HR on should you take your career abroad? I have written previously about the things I have learnt by moving to Singapore and another post I wrote shortly after moving to Singapore on how we approached the change because living and working overseas was something I always wanted to do. 

A bit of history. Most of my career has been in Sydney, Australia. The roles and companies I liked the best were the ones that gave me the opportunity to travel overseas and also apply my work to different situations and cultures. I have had some amazing experiences travelling for work, including going to Mundra, a remote part of India to complete a Human Resource audit (and I have a coffee mug to prove it), helping support a company in-house development program at the US Merchant Marine Academy on Long Island (New York), going to the Philippines for a Global HR meeting and running a Development program in Atyrau, Kazakhstan. Yes, I did eat Horse. No, I didn’t wear a Mankini.

I have been overseas for two and a half years now, with the last 6 months being in the UK and thought I would share my perspective on the experience so far. Here is my take on the good, the bad and the downright ugly of living and working overseas. So big breath, here we go….

The good

It’s fun to live in a place where everything is a bit different and new. I like different and new, and different. I think most people do. It’s why fashion designers have new collections about every two months and why Apple brings out new iPhones. New can be fun.

You get to learn new ways of doing things, have new food to eat and new places to visit. The things I have loved the best about moving to Singapore and Harrogate, UK are:

  • Checking out all the different food and products in the supermarket, even if on numerous occasions you can’t find the item you really want/need to find.
  • Trying out new restaurants. One of the things I learnt early on about Singaporeans is that they love are obsessed with food. There is an incredible amount of different cultures living in Singapore and therefore an amazing variety of food along with delicious local fare. For such a small country the restaurant scene in Singapore really punches above its weight. The UK has also given us the opportunity to try the famous British cuisine, which from all accounts seems to consist of fish and chips, roasts, and sausages and mash. 
  • Being in much closer vicinity to visit and/or holiday in other places. Australia really is very remote.
  • Being able to work with people from different backgrounds, experiences and cultures
  • Meeting other Expats and locals and learning about their experiences  
  • Working out if your skills, knowledge and experience translate into a different context and realising that when it doesn’t, you are smart enough to work it out!
  • There are lots of things that are so much better than your home country. For example, Singapore is generally a very efficient place to live, and the tax rate is low. In Yorkshire, UK where we are living at the moment, the people are very friendly and helpful. There is also lots of old stuff, if you like that kind of thing.
Old Stuff: Leadenhall Market, London (photo by me)
The bad

It’s just hard
There are days when you are just over everything being different and foreign and hard. We all have hard days and bad weeks but when you are away from everything that is familiar and comforting, it's much worse. I shared an office with another Expat in Singapore and there were days when we would rest our head on our hands and just sigh at each other, wishing we were in a Mad Men scene so we saunter over to the drinks trolley in the corner and and add two fingers of whisky to a crystal tumbler. Instead we went to McDonalds for lunch. It wasn’t the same.

Making friends
Making friends in a new land is a little like dating again except that I’m not as hot as I used to be, even with access to better fashion.  The fear of rejection is real people. You have to put yourself out there! What if I ask that Mum at school drop off out for a drink and she doesn’t like wine?  What if we invite people over for a BBQ dinner and they stand us up because they got too drunk at the 5-star hotel Sunday brunch? And don’t get me started on helping your kids make friends.  I once tried to organise a play-date for Aiden in Singapore with a Tiger Mommy. She looked at me like I was an Alien, though perhaps being an Australian with pink hair is close. Apparently her son’s schedule of piano, violin, maths tutoring, swimming, mandarin and Master Chef cooking lessons for 5-year-old’s, meant that a Saturday playdate was not possible until summer break, and even then she was considering an educational tour of China for her precious progeny to be fully immersed in mandarin language and culture. Felt a bit gun shy after that.

In the office
It was a surprise when I moved to Singapore that none of the Singaporean employees wanted to talk to me. On work trips to Singapore I had been looked after like a star! But alas I was now a foreigner in the office and a suspicious one at that! No one likes Human Resources.  I’m friendly and I don’t think that scary but it took 3 months for the other employees to speak to me, and then it was like a switch had been flicked. Everyone wanted to talk to me! In the toilet, in the kitchen, generally hanging out in the office. It was fine though, and gave me good insight into the Singaporean culture.

There are times of high stress. Seeing all your belongings packed in boxes and then a container and not seeing then for 6 weeks at least, is one thing but it’s not as easy as that. There is living out of a suitcase, trying to find somewhere new to put your container of household stuff, marketing and selling a house in four weeks, selling your car, working out how to get about your new place and trying to get a bank account. There is a massive opportunity for banks to help expats open new bank accounts. Some banks have a specialised service for this but having recently used HSBC’s I can tell you it was the most stressful and ridiculous part about moving to the UK.

The money
It’s an expensive process to move overseas, even if your company provides some financial assistance. There is a period when you literally have no money. On one end this comes about through paying cancelation fees, losing money on selling cars, paying out loans, selling a house, using temporary housing and transport and eating out a lot because there may be a period when you have no kitchen. On the other end it comes about through paying deposits, paying for stuff in advance, purchasing new appliances, eating out, transport, new school uniforms (if you have kids) and sometimes psychological help so you don’t go insane.

The ugly

How things are done
A lot of things are hard because you have assumptions in your head about how you go about things and also how things should be done. This creates all sorts of issues, particularly if you are an easily frustrated, outspoken Australian. For example, getting a prescription filled in the UK is not for the faint hearted. The process requires a PhD level of understanding of NHS (National Health Service) bureaucracy along with a flow chart detailing the convoluted process that happens between the Doctors Surgery and the pharmacy. Countries have been colonised in less time.

Any challenge to such ridiculousness results in a snooty “that’s how it’s done here” response. Which it is. Part of the expatriate process is accepting all the things that make no sense to you and just getting on with things.

Depending on how you end up working and living in a different country, sometimes your security is not what it is in your home country. For both my moves, my right to reside in each country was reliant on my employer sponsored work visa. This means that if you lose your job for whatever reason there is a very high likelihood you have to leave the country pretty quickly. I may have some fairly recent experience of this and I can tell you the anxiety levels are high. No easy feat when you have to pack up a house as a minimum! At least if you lose your job in your home country you can just hang on the lounge for a bit and peruse daytime television. You don’t have to wrap said lounge and television in export standard wrapping, put it in a container, insure it, and ship it across the ocean.

So what do you think? Is this for you?

Lisa xx

How to get a part-time job

Charlie, Me and Aiden. Photo by 
While I was in Byron Bay recently attending the fab Business Chicks Movers and Breakers Conference I was contacted by a Human Resources (HR) Colleague and friend. She sent me a message on Facebook promoted by an article I shared called this is the reason women should never give up their jobs.  You can go have a read if you like..... I can wait.

You see I don't think women should give up their jobs. I just don't, but I also know that circumstances at different times make this hard for some people and I don't judge. This is just how I feel about things.

My colleague/friend wanted some advice because she wanted to return to work now that her kids are in school, but was struggling to gain part-time work in her profession.  She had to leave her previous job because the company wouldn't provide flexible work when her second child wasn't well. She needed some help and advice.

I have written about working part-time before. I wrote about it here back in 2014 and then I had my friend Jacqui write about it here, about her attempt to reduce her full time hours. Today I have been doing some more research and writing on part-time work (beyond this post) and did you know that in Australia 43% of women work part-time? I think part of the reason is that women still bear the majority of caring for children and elderly parents and looking after the household. There is obviously a big need for this type of work.

Did you also know that women retire with less than half of the retirement savings of men? There are reasons for this, including not earning the same as men for equivalent work, spending time out of the workforce to have children and working part-time. You can check out the appalling stats here, page 4 

But back to the point of the post. How do you get a part-time job? There is huge competition for part-time roles because;

a) lots of women want part-time roles,  and (unfortunately for my colleague and friend) 
b) the HR profession, in particular, is full of women who would really like a part-time role.

Whenever part-time roles are advertised I suspect there are hundreds of people who apply. It's tough. I think the majority of part-time jobs are created by people in full time jobs who need something to give. They were able to argue for something that suits them better and will have a track record of performance behind them. I don't think these kind of roles are offered up very often in the open job market, so here was my advice to her which may help you too.

Apply for full time roles
If/when you are offered a full time role you could try negotiating for a part-time one. I think this works for a 4 day a week role but not less than that. Companies that think they need someone in a role doing full time hours are unlikely to consider much less. 

You need to think about how you could do a full time 5 day a week role in 4 days. 

Maybe you do 5 days (38 hours) in four e.g. work longer hours on 4 days?
Maybe you can present an argument of how your understanding of the role could be done in a only 4 days a week?
Maybe you could think about working 5 days but with slightly shorter hours e.g. start later than normal and/or finish earlier than normal?

I have a friend who applied for full time jobs and when she was offered one she negotiated to work 4 days per week and was successful. 

The risk with this option is that you erode some trust upfront and what if it doesn't work? Hmmm....

Apply for a full time job, get through probation and then negotiate part time hours. 
This may be a better option than the first one as you know the company and the role better. Though you may need childcare options for the length of the probationary period (usually 3-6 months), if this is the reason for wanting to work part-time. You would be in a better position to work out how you could do the job on reduced hours. Of course there is the risk that the company won't agree to your proposal and you are stuck doing a full time job, or would need to resign.

Work full time
This is a tough option but if you have family support (grandparents etc), can access childcare and/or before and after school care. This option also gives more money so you could potentially have a cleaner to help with some of the household stuff and get your partner to do their share. Honestly, this is my favourite option. I know it's the toughest but I truly believe it's the best.  

What about you and your partner (should you have someone to share the parenting) negotiate some part time hours or flexible options? If your partner is the main breadwinner even just leaving work early a couple of days a week can be a help in picking up children, doing some grocery shopping and cooking the evening meal.

Would love to hear about other ideas for securing part-time work......

Do you like the photo of the boys and I at the top of this post? It was taken by Andrea Thompson in June at Byron Bay (can you tell I really like Byron Bay?). Andrea is a long time friend and Brisbane (Australia) based photographer. She has done numerous family shoots for me as well as some corporate gigs. She has also just won the AIPP Queensland Professional Wedding photographer of the year for 2016! Andrea is a great example of making her work, work for her. She is able to do what she loves while also looking after her family.

My Career Story

 Hi! Welcome to I-develop-me. I hope you enjoy visiting and picking up some great information and tips to help you in your life, and your career. It can be inspiring and interesting to understand how others have got to where they are so here is a bit about me and my career story....

What do you want to do, when you grew up? 

When I left school in Brisbane I had no idea what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up! Maybe I still don't. When I left school it seemed like the next step would be to go to university. And study what? I seriously had no idea. I learnt music growing up and became pretty good at playing flute but wasn't sure that it was something I wanted to make a career out of. My flute teacher's husband asked me one afternoon "Do you want to spend 8 hours a day practising alone?" I did not. That decided that. 

What should I study?

I read the Tertiary selection course book from start to finish to see if there was anything that interested me. My best subject at school was Home Economics (please don't tell anyone. God it's embarrassing!). I was top of the class in every year at high school. Seriously. I liked Home Economics but knew that I definitely did not want to be a Home 'Ec' teacher.  The thought of year 8 boys was enough to turn me off that. I came across a degree called "Bachelor of Applied Science in Home Economics". I decided to do that. I was good at Home Ec and Science. Why not? Of course doing that 3 year degree just delayed me working out what the rest of my life was going to look like!

Time to get to work!

I finished my degree and still having no idea about what I wanted to do, I started work in my parent's hardware store. On day 1 working for Dad I was offered a Full-time job and a place in the management development program for a jewellery chain-store. During uni I worked at said jewellery chain-store as a casual worker. The decision was made quickly. I could either work with pretty things, or hammers. I was off! Poor Dad. So while I was pretty sure I didn't want a career in retail long-term I knew that the skills I would learn in this job would be invaluable. Also the opportunity to be part of a management development program was pretty appealing. 

I worked for that company for 6 years and was eventually promoted to Store Manager. I learnt lots; how to manage people, how to budget and plan, how to drive profit, merchandising skills, how to deal with conflict effectively (you learn this pretty quick when you have customer screaming in front of your during the Christmas rush!), how to ask good questions and communicate effectively and I definitely learnt that there had to be an easier way to earn a living, that didn't involve standing on your feet 10 hours a day. 

A career change and more study

During this time in my career I became interested in how organisations selected employees and managed them. The Store Manager who originally employed me had become the State Human Resources (HR) Manager and I wondered if that was something I could do. Back to uni I went, this time studying part-time (Bachelor of Business in Human Resource Management), while I worked full-time. Let me just say studying part-time is HARD WORK. On the evenings I needed to attend lectures I arrived physically exhausted, mentally thirsty and completely talked out*.

So even though I had decided I wanted to move from Retail Management into HR Management, and was studying to match,  I had no idea how I was going to make the transition and convince someone, anyone, to give me a job in HR when I had no experience. I decided I had to get some experience any way I could. I took a casual job in the business faculty of the university, with one of the HR Lecturers which involved photocopying and filing. I enrolled in the universities mentoring program and was lucky enough to get matched with the HR Manager from an industrial type company. I attended any kind of free or cheap HR industry training or events, and I amended my resume to demonstrate my HR Management skills in the roles I had to date.  

 My first corporate role

I applied for an entry level role with a company that was looking to establish a new HR department. I was selected for an interview because I didn't have much HR experience and because I had other experience. How cool is that? I was very lucky that the new CEO recruited on potential and liked my energy and personality. The HR Manager I worked for in that job was also great and I was given lots of feedback and assistance which was just what I needed. I was on my way!

Move to the big smoke

I had always wanted to move to Sydney and decided the time was right in 2002. You can read a bit more about why I decided move here. I wanted to work for a big company in Sydney. My first HR role in Brisbane was for a small niche insurer with around 100 employees. I wanted to see how a big company "did" HR. My first role was with a very large and entrepreneurial company and their HR systems were basically non-existent. Oh well. I still learnt heaps!

From then to now..

I have worked really hard so far in my work and education and I have been lucky enough to work for some great companies and people throughout my HR career. I have completed a Masters in Organisational Coaching and have progressed steadily in my career to the point I thought I could help others with theirs, so I decided to write this blog. I have worked for big and small companies, some Australian and some Global and worked in generalist and specialist roles as I have increased my seniority in the HR profession.  I have been given the opportunity to travel the world during my career to the UK, Europe, the Middle East, South East Asia, the USA, and China and work with some fantastic people and fascinating cultures.

I have lived and worked in Singapore and now the UK. 

*"talked out" is the technical term for having to talk all day, to customers, to staff so that by the end of the day you never want to talk to anyone again ;-)

Interesting Stuff

Blogs I like

Seth's Blog
TED Blog
Keith Abraham's Blog 

Cool Stuff

The Domino Projectis a new way to think about publishing. Founded by Seth Godin and powered by Amazon, this project is trying to change the way books are built, sold and spread.

The Happiness Project - Gretchen Rubin's experiment of becoming and being happy in everyday life.

 Apps for iPhone

LinkedIn - keep in touch with your network

HBR Tips - get useful management tips each day from Harvard Business Review

About Me

Hello! I'm Lisa. Nice to meet you!

The Formal Stuff!

My 16+ year career in Human Resource Management and Organisational Development has included both local and global experience in Industrial Distribution, Retail, Insurance, Services, FMCG and Manufacturing industries. I am very proud to have worked for companies such as National Transport Insurance, P&O Ports, Coates Hire, Coca-Cola Amatil, Brady Corporation and MRC Global in Human Resource Management and Organisational Development.

I have lived and worked in Brisbane and Sydney Australia, Singapore and now the UK.

My passion and focus is developing people and in particular leaders in organisations, and I like working with leaders to help them create an organisational culture which makes people want to work there, do a great job and build and improve the business.

I have two undergraduate degrees in Applied Science and Business from the Queensland University of Technology and a Masters of Organisational Coaching from Sydney University. I am accredited in a number of tools which help people develop self awareness and effective leadership behaviours.

The Fun Stuff!

I am a complete pop-music tragic! I love all the one word female singers - Madonna, Brittney, Kylie, Danni, Rhianna, Lady Gaga (yes that's two words. I know).

I am a Magazine junkie. Every month I buy 6-8 fashion and interior design magazines. They are completely taking over the house. There are piles of them everywhere. I like reading them while watching TV, in the bath and on planes! 

I am enjoying developing my photography skills (he, hee!). 

I love travelling, whether it's for work or holiday. I have had some amazing experiences that I will never forget such as enjoying an afternoon drink with a Maharajah on a beach in the very north west of India, near the Pakistan border while pet camels wandered past. This was at the end of a work day which started doing HR Audits.  

My name is Lisa and I'm a real-estate slut. There I said it.

I LOVE wine. It's one of my passions. My husband Arran and I are working our way around all the wine regions of Australia and are about to start on the wine regions in Europe.

The Gender Pay Gap

I haven't blogged in a while because, excuse is that I have just moved country (from Singapore to the UK) and that takes a fair bit of mental energy and time and planning. And it literally sucks the life out of you trying to set up bank accounts and trying not to stab yourself in the supermarket because you can't find the polenta. The other excuse is I have wanted to blog about many issues but sometimes I can't work out a way to write about these constructively*

But last week I attended a lunch and employment law update which was very helpful on a number of levels. The main being that while I know a little something about employment law in the UK (enough to be dangerous), I don't know much. This is actually a good position to be in because it makes me research and learn and talk to people who know more than me. I know what I don't know, which is better than thinking I know everything. It means I will end up in less sticky situations.

One of the items for discussion was Gender Pay Gap Reporting in the UK. I'd heard a little bit about it before I moved to the UK but as the company I work for doesn't have enough employees in the UK to have to complete the report, I let it fall out of my brain. But after some superior sandwiches and other lunch food tidbits I was in the right frame of mind to take in what this meant for employers.

Employees with more than 250 employees are expected to report their Gender Pay Gap by 2018 in the following ways:

  • the mean pay gap between men and women,
  • the median gender pay gap, and
  • the gap in bonuses paid to men and women.

The brief included what exactly constituted 250 employees and what formulas you used for the calculations and when it all had to happen by. It struck me that this type of reporting has the potential to change the culture of how we look at gender and equal pay in the workplace. Because I'm assuming that the pay gap is not going to be positive for women. Actually I know it's not because of the clever research conducted by the International Labour Organisation and the World Economic Forum and the United Nations and many many other private and public sector organisations. We know the gap is not going to be pretty and this is going to force employers to start to do something about it, because there is going to be a bit of an uproar. You would think.

But then the presentation took a bit of a turn. There was a discussion about how you could potentially avoid reporting and how if you engaged a lawyer to help you look at your data, then the data would fall under legal privilage so you could get away with not reporting (say if your results were really bad and you needed time to sort it out). And then some information on how there wouldn't be any sanctions for companies that didn't report and then I started to feel a bit "half glass empty" about the whole situation.

In my home country, Australia we have been doing reports like this through the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. At least since 2008 the reporting requirements include numbers of males and females at each level, having policies that support gender equity in relation to all parts of people management and some other stuff that I don't think anyone cares about. I think the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is doing a great job driving this agenda but most companies I have worked at have all the right policies on equal employment opportunity and flexible work practices and so on. What is harder is having the right culture and leaders who believe and live the intent of the policies.

In various roles I have either been responsible for completing the report, part of a team completing the report or reviewing the report before CEO sign off. I can say generally that most years it is a scramble to demonstrate that the organisation has done anything to move the gender diversity issue along (though maybe I haven't worked for the right organisations) and to be honest it's exhausting applying creative thought to situations that don't deserve it.

The legislation that sits behind this reporting is well intentioned and should produce outcomes where organisations really look at what's happening in their patch and start to engage in dialogues to improve the situation. Equal pay for women and men has a huge impact on our community at large. Instead the lack of teeth in forcing or reviewing the public reporting means for many HR people tasked with filling out the sometimes excruciating details, is that it is all for nothing. We seem to be lacking some real grit and courage to deal with the problem.

Gender and diversity reporting attempts to create transparency around organisational remuneration, policy and cultural practices but how can this happen when there are no ramifications for non reporting or for reporting poor figures with no robust plan to fix it?

I really like this TEDx video which was shared on my social media a number of times this week so I had to pay attention. In January this year, David Burkus talked about why sharing salaries could benefit employees, organisations and the wider society.

Take a look. What do you think? Would you want your colleagues to know what you get paid? I think the new UK legislation is attempting to create transparency around pay gaps and that's a good thing.

Or maybe we could just pinksource? Its pretty, cheap labour. Go watch this video, now!

*code for writing about a topic without getting sacked

He's a Good Guy!

It seems appropriate that I talk about the "Good Guy" on International Women's Day. Don't know who the "Good Guy" is? Well, let me tell you.

It's this person that exists in organisations. And they are a guy in the truest sense of the word. A man. Not the collective term "guys" which could mean a group of men and women. It's just the men. I probably have noticed the "Good Guy" phenomenon more because I have worked in lots of male dominated industries and organisations. I am often the only woman in the room so I think I can talk from some sort of experience.

The "Good Guy" is generally not that great at their job, actually that's not fair. Some aren't great but they usually have some really good attributes, and to go with them they have some significant development areas. Some have great potential teamed with significant career de-railers.  But they usually survive, because they are a "Good Guy".

We are all good at some things, not great at others but I'm talking about larger extremes than your average person.

The term "Good Guy" is used in sentences like "yeah.....but he is a Good Guy!" or "he's a really good guy" usually said in defence of a conversation about the person's significant limitations and the issues or challenges they are creating in the organisation. The term is only used by men about other men which somehow infers that they are one of them. Part of the group, the pack. The term humanises the "guy" and makes us realise that we are dealing with humans and that no one is perfect. And that's ok and organisations need "Good Guys". Not all of them, but some. Harsh but true.

The real issue I have with "The Good Guy" is that there is no like term for women. Do you ever hear someone say "she is a great chick?" Well no because it may be offensive and, well, just no. What about "but she is a good woman"? Ever heard that? Nope. I did have one male manager describe one of my direct reports as a "Good Egg". He meant it in a positive good way, but still..... it's not the same as "Good Guy" is it?

How do we humanise women in the workplace when they are demonstrating good attributes but significant development areas? Some of the terms I have heard include; "quirky" and "inconsistent", maybe "emotional" or "challenging"...often these are negative and not humanising. And how do Women indicate that other women are part of the same group, the women tribe, part of something greater? I'm just not sure that exists, and that perhaps, is the real problem.

I don't think the solution to diversity is to bash men in organisations. Far from it, but we need to work out a way to humanise and celebrate the contribution that women make, and work out how they are part of the group that is somehow to be protected in the same way the "Good Guys" are.

So to all the fabulous women who are forging their way, happy International Women's Day! #pledgeforparity

Manage your energy, not your time

This is the title of a great Harvard Business Review article. I used this article as some pre-reading for the participants on a recent leadership development program. We talked as a group about the kind of things each of us do to top up our energy. I really like the article because it recognises that we only have so much time each day, but we can recharge our energy to be more effective in a number of different ways.

I like talking about this topic with leaders because I find that our working lives are getting busier and more manic. The environments we operate in are less stable and less predictable and increasingly we need better strategies to deal with stress, pressure and ambiguity. For leaders working in a global environment these issues are even more pronounced, particularly when they are being asked to produce more, with less resources.

I also recognise that leaders need to perform at their peak and often do very little to ensure that they actually can. Top athletes use every resource available to them to ensure they have the best competitive edge. They have coaches and dieticians and psychologists and physiotherapists and exercise physiologists and specialist doctors. What do leaders have to ensure they can run the race and produce the results? In some, or most cases, nothing.

That's why I love this article. It addresses different types of energy including the body (or physical energy), emotional energy, the mind and spirit. The article talks about how you can build energy in each area. 

I write this post from the airline lounge in Singapore, on the way to Queenstown, New Zealand to restore my energy. I am attending Trey Ratcliff's Photography and Yoga workshop. I met Trey in the lift at a blogging conference three years ago. He turned out to be the keynote speaker and blew the attendees, including me, away with his energy, courage and creativity. 

I follow him at stuck in customs and when he posted about this workshop I just had to go. A couple of ways I manage my energy when working long hours and travelling a lot is to do something physical and to do something creative. This workshop at Aro Ha seemed to combine the two perfectly. 

I'll be learning some new things like processing photos, which I haven't really done before. I have purchased Lightroom for this task and am looking forward to learning how to enhance raw images from the camera. Actually it would be really good to just work out how to get photos into the software. I'm coming from a low base aren't I?

I'm looking forward to doing something physical everyday from trekking around the beautiful scenery near Queenstown to doing yoga. This will be a nice change from my usual day sitting on my butt or even standing at my new adjustable desk. Swapping this view with clean air and mountains should be good for the soul.

Most weeks I manage to attend one or two yoga classes so getting to do one every day without the rush of work and time, will be a luxury. I'm also looking forward to seeing how the vegetarian "paleo friendly, gluten free, dairy free, and enzymatically active" food makes me feel, and there will also be massages. I like massages. Still tossing up whether I should take some wine along or whether a week without alcohol would be a good thing. Ok, I know the answer to this. 

The opportunity to use my brain and body in a different way for a whole week is such a luxury. I like my job and what I get to do each day but I know if I don't take out time to breathe and be creative I'm not good at my job. This coming week I will get to restore my physical and emotional energy along with recharging the mind and the spirit.

Of course you don't have to fly hours to attend a retreat to restore your energy. What are some of the things you do?