A very appropriate start to the night. The words in the song - we are standing on our own two feet and we have something to say to you.... truly resonated around the room.
Awards like these help promote gender balance and diversity in Australian businesses. We would all agree that it is diversity of thought drives great outcomes in business.
Last night we celebrated women entrepreneurs, those in start ups, not for profits, private sector and young women in business. Across the country there are businesses being led by amazing women.
However despite the success and celebrations last night the reality is that
- the pay gap is over 19% in Australia
- the diversity we see in our communities is not reflected in the work place leave alone boards
- only 18% of employers have specific objectives to achieve gender pay equality
Last nights winner Captain Mona Shindy will become a shining light in this issue, of that I have no doubt.
Her speech was eloquent, inspiring and confident. Personally I was thrilled to see a winner who did not fit into the typical white corporate success story. Here is a woman we can all look up to. I cannot believe that the Australian Navy have kept her hidden all this time.
It is Mona's aim to encourage more Muslims to join the defence force, around 100 of the 45000-defence force personnel identify as Muslim, 27 of them in the Navy.
She says terrorist attacks, which have hijacked aspects of religious teachings to justify those behaviours have created “fear and uncertainty for others who are non-Muslims”.
“You can be a proud Australian that loves everything about this great nation and still love your roots and love where you came from and straddle both worlds and both communities.
That’s how I live my life and I like to help other people find their way in living those two things,” she said (as quoted in the Muslim Mirror )
Jane Caro closed the night last night by saying "it is something special that it is this winner, at this time, this week". Very appropriate I thought.
I am thrilled at Mona's win simply because I now have a "sister", who is not your "white corporate success story" who will relate to the ethnic minorities, new migrants, refugees and by sharing her story help inspire them to achieve great things. Women's agenda wrote an article on this amazing woman... Read more here
Congratulations to all the other winners last night, you now join an incredible alumni of women across the country, all of whom will have positive impact on the issue of diversity and equality in our workplaces.
Jessica May - Enabled Employment
Marie Piccone - Manbulloo
Kate Thiele - Guide Dogs
Mona Shindy - Royal Australian Navy
Katarina Carroll - Qld Fire and Emergency Services
Catherine Ball - AECOM
Kim Tran - La Belle Peau