Did we just break the glass ceiling?

Marilyn Loden coined the term glass ceiling at a New York conference in 1978, according to an interesting retrospective in The Washington Post. Whatever its origin, the glass ceiling has been around a long time, stubborn in the face of generations of resistance.

When I arrived at Peoplecare a bit more than three years ago, I thought, ‘this is pretty different’. Women made three of the seven executives. That was as close to gender parity as I’d ever worked under.

A year later, Dr Melinda Williams moved from the head of her division to CEO. Very promising indeed.

2020 results

At the end of each financial year, Peoplecare reports to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Every Peoplecarer gets the report emailed to them annually. The boilerplate email I received with the report hid what is an impressive result. Peoplecare’s management team is 63% female. In contrast, the most recent figures on WGEA’s website show that the gender split of managers in the wider Australian workforce is only 39.4% female.

The obvious unanswered question at this point is how did we get such good results when others have struggled?

I asked Peoplecare’s Head of People, Culture & Capability, Maree Morgan-Monk, to explain how we did so well.

Did Peoplecare set gender goals to get to this point? How did we get in such a strong position?

Diversity is Peoplecare’s strength, and for a while now, we’ve recognised the value that women bring to our workplace. Our culture has always been to recognise individual skills and attributes, irrespective of gender, but given the composition of our workforce has always been majority women, it only highlights the value that women can add.

Do you have any advice for other businesses that don’t have enough women in management and executive roles?

Peoplecare focuses on a supportive work environment. Career development opportunities and the flexible working arrangement options for women in all roles are the building blocks to retaining and developing our particularly talented women into our management and executive roles.

Is there anything Peoplecare can do better at?

I think there is opportunity for Peoplecare to continue provide further career and skills development and more senior roles for our part-time Peoplecarers. COVID-19 has shown us that we are more capable than we think about working flexibly and therefore the juggle of career and family life is achievable.

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