With our 'Striving for Gender Parity’ breakfast only two weeks away, get to know Martine Harte, Director of Engaging Women and learn about the key influences of our inspirational speaker's success.
1. Can you identify someone who has impacted you as a leader?
Having had the privilege of interviewing thousands of accomplished people – from Prime Ministers, Hollywood royalty, ground-breaking researchers and artists – both as a journalist and since founding www.engagingwomen.com.au, I have a pretty long list of people who have impacted my path.
If I had to choose one Australian woman, I'd say Dame Quentin Bryce, our first female Governor General. She has had a purposeful life and has been an incredible role model for women.
2. Why and how did this particular person inspire you?
She has integrity and gives back to the community. She galloped legal reform for the rights of women as Sex Discrimination Commissioner and continues to also work tirelessly for women and children.
I also have a personal story to share: after my third baby I was invited to hear Dame Quentin Bryce speak at a charity event. I was super nervous about taking such a young child yet the organisers encouraged me to come along. Of course he started crying during the Governor General's main speech. She was so gracious, paused her speech and told the audience that my child's crying was much louder in my ears than anyone else's. She assured me that everybody in the room understood and didn't mind his crying at all.
After that she cuddled my son for a very long time. An amazing woman!
3. What do you see are the challenges for business women?
The gender pay gap, 18.8% forty years after equal pay legislation, is something which is a real challenge for women in business.
We still need more women in leadership roles, as well as more of us to be participating in public life and seen in our media. Flexible working arrangements have changed the lives of many women for the better.
Another challenge is affordable child care and talking more about men sharing the caregiving role. I believe we can work together to intentionally interrupt biases and remove barriers within the workplace.
The good news is myself and the other speakers, Cyan Ta'eed and Jacinta Carboon, who will make up the panel at your 'Striving for Gender Parity' breakfast, have practical methods which we really hope will open up conversations and accelerate the careers of women in business.
4. To what do you owe your success?
The ability to find a platform.
Modern life offers more opportunities for people to have a platform than ever before. By platform, I don't just mean a blog, podcast or being in the public eye. I'm referring to a set of principles or values you can operate to achieve your goals.
Many of the engaging, successful women I meet and feature have cultivated their own platform and it has definitely been a cornerstone of their success. So many of us have amazing ideas; yet we seem to be inflicted with 'big ideas' intimidation. Your surname doesn't need to be Jolie, Zuckerberg or Jobs to have an impact. You just need to do 'you' and tune in to whatever is tugging at your heart. Each of us can be impactful within our own spheres of influence.
5. What do you hope will be the biggest advance for gender parity in the next 5 years?
If we're going to drive progress we need to engage everyone, men and women, in the conversation.
The World Economic Forum's latest research – Global Gender Gap Report 2015 – shows it will now take 117 years to close the gender gap. Seriously?!
Gender parity is not just about equality; businesses need to embrace diversity of thought, of experience because we are living in a disrupted world.
It's an era of extraordinary possibility.
6. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Reinvention. Some women tell me they fear change, particularly when it comes to their careers, but I say embrace it as it is a catalyst for growth.
7. Being a busy business woman, how do you balance your home life and career?
Surrender to the chaos! There is no balance. I repeat: there is no balance. We need to realise that nothing is perfect, it never will be. There are days when everything goes to schedule and days when they do not.
From a practical point of view: I have three whiteboards (from the 2 dollar shop) which list my family's schedules. I also use an electronic calendar.
When I have a television appearance for SKY news, my husband steps up. It is extremely important for us to recognise the many people who are doing a fantastic job as single parents. I also have known many business women who have made the decision not to have children and would rather concentrate solely on career, which is great.
I say, tune in to 'your' balance and whatever feels right for you.
8. Do you have any inspiring words of wisdom for women looking to reach their career goals?
Just try and watch yourself fly.
9. How do you define success?
For me, it's definitely about living a life where I'm working for something bigger than myself.
Through www.engagingwomen.com.au I hold events to raise money for women and children in crisis and now have an ambassadors program where people all over Australia can do the same.
For ambassadors, it's as simple as organising one fun movie night a year; it may not seem much but it's great to do something for others.
10. In one word, characterise your life as an entrepreneur.
For more information and to register for this special ACS event, click here.