07 Mar 2016

Turning the tables

By NAB Group Executive Wealth, Andrew Hagger.

I’ve held a lot of titles in my life, with words like manager, executive and chief in them. But at home, I have one main title – Dad. It’s such a simple word, but it implies so much: chauffeur, caregiver, sports fan, ATM, friend (I hope), chef, guide, cleaner and dishwasher, and nag (sometimes).

I’m also a husband, and there’s so much to maintaining that role – a role that is based on mutual respect and equality.

And, I’m a musician – I can’t conceive of a life where music isn’t a big part of my world; and I’m a dedicated foodie.

When I walk through the door at 105 Miller Street or 700 Bourke St, I don’t leave 90 per cent of who I am at the door. In fact, it’s the totality of who I am that means I can contribute so much more to my work here, because my other ‘roles’ give me new perspectives and balance – and teach me the lessons I need to find new solutions, make good decisions and work more collaboratively.

Having a workplace where the ‘rest’ of who I am – outside my specific workplace skills – is celebrated and supported is important to me. And I think it’s particularly important for women, who for too long have borne the weight of too much expectation that they’ll leave their home selves at the office door. They’ve borne this expectation with incredible grace and resilience – but something needs to change.

Not only do we need to see the value in bringing our whole selves to work, but we need to keep evolving the flexibility to allow both sides of life to flourish for women. This is an urgent priority because the contribution of women to workplaces and to the economy is irreplaceable.

A diverse workplace is an important ingredient for diversity of thought – that challenges the status quo and helps us all to grow.

When we look at the economy, the women we work with have the potential to increase Australia’s GDP by $25 billion[i] and they’re part of a global economic force bigger than China and India combined.[ii] We need to make sure we fully harness this economic force and the myriad of skills women bring to the table in the workplace.

Rethinking male stereotypes

Positive action to support and help women in the workplace is a must; but so is reimagining the ‘working father’ stereotype. If we can create a culture that supports working dads, if we can also breakdown the stereotypes that pigeon hole men as the breadwinners at the expense of spending time with their families, we’ll go a long way towards more equal and respectful relationships at work and in our wider society.

By changing the way men see their roles – and how they balance their work and family time – we can tilt the bias and, hopefully, ensure both men and women have far more rewarding experiences inside and outside of work.

My children are now 18, 20 and 22 years old. And I don’t want to be a ‘working Dad’ who sees them on the fly, or is too tired to engage. I really don’t want to be a Dad who is constantly torn – caring, committed and conflicted.

I want to be a dad where I am exactly where my kids need me, when they need me. And I want to be a dad who puts them first and shares adventures with them that help them in some small way to set their own sails for their lives.

I want my daughters to grow up assuming they’ll be able to work and enjoy family life, with wonderful opportunities, reward and fulfilment in both; and I want my son to have exactly the same experience.

I’m excited that I have a real opportunity to be part of turning the tables when it comes to gender stereotypes in the workplace. I’m part of the Male Champions for Change project, which is all about breaking down the assumption we have about what men and women do inside and outside the workplace. For my family’s sake – and for yours – I’ll be working as hard as I can to make sure men and women are valued equally.

International Women’s Day is one of the most important events on the corporate calendar. This year it’s a great opportunity to rethink the stereotypes that constrain both men and women in our workplaces and start turning the tables.

 


 

[i]  Grattan Institute 2013

[ii] The Female Economy, Michael J. Silverstein and Kate Sayre, Harvard Business Review, September 2009

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