The changing role of women in the workplace

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International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March is a time to celebrate how far women have come – and to push for greater change in society and the workplace.

Glengarry Private Hospital is leading by example in Western Australia, with chief executive officer Leonie Gardiner proud to lead an all-female executive team.

Ms Gardiner said gender equity in the workplace – the process of achieving gender equality – meant recognising everyone’s unique talents.

“International Women’s Day is a good time to reflect on the progress made in terms of fair and productive places of employment.

“I have been in the health industry for 40 years and it’s been amazing to see the role of women in the workforce change, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses further in the future,” she said.

A mother of four, Ms Gardiner is grateful to have been able to combine a career with raising her family. 

“Our executive team at Glengarry Private Hospital works well because we are collaborative and prioritise well,” she said.

“We understand the needs of women in the workforce and their struggles balancing family and a career. We all have a good sense of humour and laugh together daily.”

Ms Gardiner said gender and cultural diversity were important in the workplace, including the health industry.

“Everyone has unique talents and attributes. For example, men are just as valuable for patient care in nursing and midwifery,” she said.

Glengarry Private Hospital, based in Perth's northern suburbs, is part of Ramsay Health Care Australia – which said it had achieved its goal of gender equity at senior management levels across all five of its WA facilities.

“More than half of our senior managers are women and there are just as many female CEOs as male CEOs,” said Julianne Allan, the group's State Human Resources Manager.

“We believe it is important to have strong female representation across all levels of an organisation.”

Ramsay Health Care has pledged its support for a national campaign to increase the proportion of executive women across ASX200 companies.

Industry super fund HESTA’s 40:40 Vision initiative seeks to achieve gender balance across senior leadership of all ASX200 companies by 2030. 

The goal is to have 40 percent women, 40 percent men and 20 percent any gender.

Ramsay Australia’s Group Chief People Officer, Colleen Harris, said the company was a significant employer of women.

“In Australia, 59 percent of our facility CEOs are women, and 60 percent of our regional executives are female.

“Providing a flexible, family-friendly environment for all employees is a vital way to achieve these targets and helps improve the wellbeing of our people,” she said.

And it seems employing women at the top level of an organisation also makes good financial sense.

Research from Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre has shown that an increase in the number of female top-tier managers by 10 percentage points or more had led to a 6.6 percent increase in the market value of ASX-listed companies.

Read more: The financial risks of not acting fairly

Read more: 2021 - The year to thank healthcare workers

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