> Continued from page 10 But employees need to value themselves as well. I remember finding out that a colleague who was, at that point, less qualified and had less experience was being paid a significant amount more than me. I remember feeling how unfair it was and how that could have happened. So I marched into the HR Directors office and told them what I thought. I got the pay rise and then the promotions started, it was about having faith in my ability and not being afraid to say so!
STEM SUBJECTS We as individuals will not change the school systems or turn a complete industry around overnight. But as companies and institutions we can lead the way. We can better promote the benefits of our industry and throw away sterotypes and encourage students at an earlier age to take up subjects that will lead to the skills we need. We need to address skills shortages and attract the best and brightest into our profession. What are we telling girls from a very early age? What messages are in society that make them steer away from STEM subjects. In a 2014 research paper prepared for the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute some of the reasons were identified: 1. Stereotypical viewpoints about the nature of STEM careers. 2. Traditional associations of particular careers or areas of excellence with masculine and feminine. This particular type of stereotyping associates mathematics, engineering and other STEM fields with masculine 3. Negative perceptions of particular career types held by young women, whether grounded in fact or not.
4. Poor direction from parents and teachers can also play a role.. 5. The lack of female role models - both high school teachers and industry professionals. Tackling all of these issues will take leadership on many fronts including government, community, schools but obviously industry as well. We can take the lead and look at initiatives such as mentoring programs, interaction with schools, scholarships etc. Looking at our own role models and getting them out in front of people.
FLEXIBILITY IN THE WORKPLACE. There has been a lot of talk about this topic and I believe it will be the game changer! So what comes to mind when we think of flexible work places...mothers maybe? One of the key things we need to remember is it’s not just women who have children. It’s time to recognise that parenting generally involves two people and both of those parents may want to share responsibility. It’s also not just about parenting – what about people with aged parents they need to care for or how about people with a serious sporting commitment for example. Creating a work environment that is flexible to our employees needs can be majorly beneficial to the business. We are not talking about a work/life balance, it’s about total balance – for the employer and employee. More and more evidence is showing that flexible workplaces deliver higher productivity, enhanced motivation and increased loyalty. Canberra architectural practice DJAS actively encourage flexible working arrangement within its senior
12 - MARCH 2017 - THE BUILDING ECONOMIST
management. Talking to Alisa Moss (head of interior design) she explained that she left on parental leave and when she came back to work it was on her terms, which evolved into a 3 day a week working pattern but noted that this is office time – she is available to her clients and team 24/7 and regularly works from home. As practice Director the late Alastair Swain stressed it’s about the deliverable and the quality of the work - as long as this doesn’t suffer then its all on the table. The latest development that I have become very interested in is the Equilibrium Man Challenge. The Challenge aims to advance the take up of flexible work practices in order to allow people to achieve greater equilibrium in their lives. They prefer the concept of ‘equilibrium’ to ‘work/life balance’ because it better reflects the complexity people have in their lives. The Equilibrium Man Challenge reflects the fact most people do not necessarily want to have to make simplistic choice between their career and other interest or commitments but would rather better manage all of the interests and commitments they have, through more flexible work practices RLB Australia are currently developing our strategies to address these issues. I believe we need to lead the way because we need to attract best and brightest people into this profession to secure our future. We need to look at our workplaces and see what can be changed to make them the most attractive place to work.
THE BOTTOM LINE In summary, the numbers speak for themselves and they are saying one thing very loud and clear to me “ITS NOT GOOD ENOUGH” .