Industry leaders on the gender pay gap, women in leadership and accelerating progress

Jason Pollock
By Jason Pollock | 8 March 2024
Credit: Rahadiansyah via Unsplash

How to fix the gender pay gap, gain balance in leadership roles and invest more in women and accelerate progress?

AdNews spoke to industry leaders, who say it's all about transparency, working together, providing opportunity, driving systemic change.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 is Count Her In: Invest in Women. Accelerate Progress, designed to examine the pathways to greater economic inclusion for women and girls everywhere.

Alissa Bartlett, chief people officer at JCDecaux Australia & New Zealand, says transparency needs to be improved around gender pay and equity gaps by sharing key metrics across the industry and openly discuss our  insights and strategies.

"For example, in addition to pay, how many women are in leadership roles? What are the retention rates for women? Why are they leaving the business? It’s then critical to empower everyone in the industry to take personal action to help close the gap," says Bartlett.

"Leadership is key to driving real systemic change. Of course, businesses should ensure they are providing promotion opportunities for women at senior levels, but it’s also about creating a work environment from the ground-up which is supportive of family needs.

"This includes not only providing things like paid parental leave and secondary carers leave, but also normalising and encouraging men in the workplace to use these benefits to take on more of the care giving role at home. 

Rashell Habib, head of digital news and strategy at Paramount ANZ, says systemic change is needed.

"Not superficial vanity metrics and events," says Habib.

"And figuring out what’s stopping change. Is it legacy policies and attitudes? Is it an unconscious bias or is it that women themselves don’t fight for it out of fear or an unconscious bias they hold? 

"We have the lowest gender pay gap for the broadcast industry at Paramount, but we know there’s still more work to do.

"Across the company there is an increased focus on equitable recruitment activities surrounding process and pay, plus flexibility and 14 weeks paid parental leave. They’re all-important steps towards gender equity."

Juliette Stead, senior vice president, head of JAPAC at Magnite, says just do it.

"As an industry, let’s consciously shift our mindset towards paying people based on their value and contributions, and let’s ensure we’re creating opportunities for female leadership now and into the future," she says.

"The gender pay gap is only part of the problem - a symptom of a broader, systemic issue. We also need to focus on creating more equitable work environments so that diversity can thrive. We know that diverse voices lead to enhanced business performance, so what are we waiting for?

"I have also long been an advocate for promoting more equal parenting roles - not only to enable and empower women to say ‘yes’ more often at work, but also to open up doors for greater career advancement opportunities and increased confidence in the workplace.

"We need to get to the point where women no longer sacrifice salary for flexibility - flexibility should be accessible to all. I also believe in the benefit of kids seeing that both men and women can have multi-dimensional roles in the world. Not old school delineation of women as caregivers and men as breadwinners."

Jaclyn Hadida, country manager, ANZ at InMobi, says it’s crucial for businesses to evaluate the numbers within their own organisation to ensure that they are working towards mitigating pay gaps.

"You can’t embark upon meaningful change until you can quantify the problem – and here transparency is key," she says

"In doing so, they must also acknowledge help is needed with childcare (either by contribution or on ground support) and offering paternity leave. Another area of focus would be reassessing female salaries along with transparency on pay and benefit structures.

Joanna Georges, Head of Australia and New Zealand at Scope3, says companies must be transparent about their policies, practices, and data related to gender equality.

It then becomes possible to identify areas of improvement.

"This includes being transparent about pay scales, promotion criteria, and the gender composition at every level of the organisation," she says.

"By doing so, companies can be held accountable for promoting gender equality or work towards closing any existing gender pay gaps.

"The adtech industry is gradually moving away from the 'Boy’s Club'culture of old but pockets of it still exist; transparency across all metrics would help expose those yet to take meaningful action.

Rachel Fang, global marketing director at Vudoo, says the gender pay gap extends beyond mere differences in salaries between men and women.

"It encapsulates a variety of underlying issues, including systemic discrimination, the undervaluation of roles held by women, and the significant underrepresentation of women in leadership and higher-paying positions," she says.

"By understanding and tackling these root causes, industries can begin dismantling the barriers that contribute to the gender pay gap and this includes conducting regular pay audits, implementing transparent salary structures and providing better support and policies in achieving work-life balance.

"While some progress has been made with the legislated transparency regime, the findings revealed a stark reality: women still earn 20% less than men.

"But it’s a step towards improvement, and with public data now available and the commitment to release the findings in Australia yearly, individuals will be armed with information, and organisations will be held accountable to lift their game and close the gender pay gap.

Lauren Wetzel, COO of InfoSum, says one of the biggest barriers to closing the gender gap in the technology industry is the lack of women in senior leadership positions.

"When women see other women thriving at the C-level, it not only breaks down barriers, but it also provides tangible proof that success is achievable," she says.

"A critical step in addressing this is to actively promote and support the advancement of women into senior leadership positions by fostering an environment where women can excel and progress in the boardroom. This approach creates a clear pathway for future generations to follow - ultimately narrowing the gender gap and fostering a more inclusive and equitable workplace. 

"My advice for women in the technology industry is also to become advocates for one another – let’s be each other's hype person. Rather than viewing other women as competition, let’s cheer each other on, champion their successes and support their endeavours.

"The more we highlight the great work that women are doing, the more we adjust the narrative and shape the picture of women’s critical and impactful role in the industry and across wider society."

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