Tapping an alternative power source

12/05/2021 - 14:00

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A Melbourne-based leadership coach is encouraging us to get on board with female empowerment.

Tapping an alternative power source
Helen Robinett says women see things differently.

Women may comprise more than half of Australia’s population, but they remain significantly underrepresented in positions of power and influence.

Here we are, in 2021, and Australia has still only had one female prime minister.

Research by The Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows the total remuneration pay gap between men and women sits around 20.1 per cent, while equally alarming is the fact there are more Australian CEOs named Andrew than female CEOs in total.

Progress is being made, but it’s slow going.

The Bankwest-WGEA study suggests it’s going to take at least 26 years before the gender pay gap is closed.

So, to really shift the needle, we need to be more innovative in our approach.

Melbourne-based leadership and confidence coach Helen Robinett is doing that in the company director space with her new program, Get a Seat on a Board.

In February this year, women held just less than 33 per cent of board positions on ASX 200 companies, with two companies having no female board members.

“We need more women in positions of power and influence because women see things differently,” Ms Robinett said.

“We have a view on the world that men simply cannot have. It’s about diversity and gender balance. It’s about influencing decisions that impact families, and the community as a whole.”

Innovating boards

Ms Robinett takes an innovative, evidence-based approach to address the issues she identifies as holding women back that aren’t addressed in other, similar programs.

For example, she assumes women are educated and good at what they do, but what is missing is how “she connects in the world so that others can see her value”.

“Women are smart. They lack confidence and doubt themselves,” Ms Robinett said.

“Oh, and the system is broken. The patriarchy is set up for men, not women.”

Ripple effects

Ms Robinett’s program is not just increasing the number of women in leadership positions but having ripple effects in all areas of her clients’ lives and of those around them, which is why she thinks this work is so crucial for everyone, regardless of gender.

“One [client] is finding her way after leaving a long marriage to a narcissist.

The program has given her immense confidence,” Ms Robinett said.

“She discovered that she actually likes herself and wants to be in a relationship that serves her.

“Another has totally readdressed her circle of influence and is actively working with people she needs to spend time with to advance her career for the good of her community.

“They have all had incredible insights into who they are ‘being’ as opposed to what they are ‘doing’ to advance in their career.”

The future is female

Ms Robinett told Business News part of that ‘being’ was women embracing being truly themselves and living in their feminine energy, which was a conversation really starting to gain traction.

“Women have taken on masculine ways of being that don’t serve them or the rest of us,” she said.

It is this recognition that perhaps comprises the most innovative part of Ms Robinett’s program.

For so long – and here I think of my mum’s stories from her days as a 1980s power woman and 1990s venture capitalist – women have been told we need to be like men to succeed in business.

Instead, if we are to truly empower women, we need to value what they bring to the table. So, what does it look like for women to embrace their feminine energy and power?

Christine Holgate [the first female CEO of Australia Post] is in the news right now,” Ms Robinett said.

“Look at her using her feminine energy in the Senate inquiry. Wow. I watched it. It was powerful.”

• Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie is a multiaward-winning designer, researcher, futurist and certified facilitator of LEGO Serious Play. She is also the CEO of Lovego, where she is improving the dating experience for business women.

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