The Ballad of Georgie

In recognition of International Women’s Day 2021

“By the time, you complete this course, at least four of you will have changed jobs”. These were the prophetic words of our facilitator in the first few minutes of our inaugural face to face meeting in the Women in Leadership course in 2018. A few minutes after that, I met Georgie.

Georgie, epitomised everything that I felt that I was not at the age of 30. She seemed to have it all worked out. She exuded confidence and was able to talk with conviction about her beliefs and about leadership. When we started to explore values and purpose, Georgie would tell the class of 24 other women, that she had an excellent understanding of these concepts because she worked in a place that championed them. Georgie worked for one of Australia’s large car companies as an executive. At times, I felt that Georgie had all the experience and all the answers, it was almost as if she was channeling, Hermione Granger from Harry Potter. Our facilitator affirmed, Georgie’s statements about her company and that they are indeed well known in Australia for their vision, purpose, and values. Statistics show that 33% of Georgie’s company workforce was female in 2020.

During the 10 month course, I got to know many of the others and found out about their workplaces. A number worked for Organisations with a high prevalence of male employees including finance, IT, and science. It was the first time in my 53 years that I had direct exposure to some of the challenges that women face in these types of environments. Of course, I knew of the statistics related to women’s representation on boards and in our federal government via the media.

I met Georgie at the next two face to face workshops. She became more relaxed and less “Hermionesque” as time progressed. In fact, by the third workshop, Georgie seemed to have lost a lot of that confidence. I was concerned for her. She told me that she had a lot going on.

Our group convened for the final time in November 2018. Like most leavings, there was a tinge of sadness to be departing from a place of shared learning and collegiality. I found myself sitting at the same table as Georgie. She was smartly dressed and that air of confidence had reappeared. She told me that she was leaving early to attend a job interview. Georgie then proceeded to tell me about why she was leaving the company that she had so proudly championed in the early days of the leadership course. She had discovered that one of her male colleagues who shared the same role as her, had been offered the role after a few beers at the pub with their manager. Georgie had attended a one and half hour interview and was grilled through the selection criteria to prove herself worthy of the role.

Georgie had decided, just like four others on our Executive Ready course that the values of the Organisation that she worked for did not align with hers. Her tenure there was unsustainable. She decided to move on. In my opinion, it was to their great loss!

Female representation 2020/2021

ProfessionPercentage % female
Occupational therapy91.4
Exercise Physiology51
General Representation
ASX Company CEO18.3
Board membership32.6

30.2% of ASX listed companies do not have women represented on their boards.

0.4% of ASX listed companies do not have men represented on their boards.

Our Federal Government has 37.2% representation by women.

Dianna Howell Certmgr MIML MAPA (March 2021)

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