Thursday, 15 December 2016

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas Gifts

A friend of mine has a garbage truck driver who every week toots his horn and waves to her kids, who are watching him with delight through their lounge room window. She wanted to give him a 6 pack of beer as a Christmas gift.
The idea of this filled me with terror for the poor man.
Because he is a public servant, and as such, will be bound by a "no gifts" policy. This means he either needs to refuse the gift (which some people feel awkward and embarrassed about doing), take the gift and then hand it in with some paperwork to the compliance group at the office (time consuming), or take the gift knowing that he is breaching the council's policy and run the risk of being caught and reprimanded. You may think that risk is small, but there are plenty of neighbours and workmates around who may report it. Not usually because they are malicious, but maybe because they are bound to by the same Company policies (you never know who of your neighbours work for the council!).

"Bah Humbug!"

Yes, I hear you, but just because you don't agree with a rule doesn't mean you should give a gift that puts someone in a compromising position. 

Do all public servants have a no gift policy?

Some have a value cap on gifts, and you can find this easily by looking at their website. But more and more, there is a blanket no gift policy for those working in the council, or State/Federal public sector. This is because if you have a $ amount as a cap, who determines what that gift is worth? For example, is a diary worth $20, $50, etc. It also means you need to hire staff who have the job of determining if a gift is worth that or not, and to monitor the paperwork, and the gifts etc. So it is much easier from a compliance perspective and an efficiency one to just say no gifts.
Also, if the organisation has a no alcohol policy, that is likely to include no alcohol being brought to the workplace. So if you go ahead and give a public servant a bottle of wine or 6-pack of beer, they may be breaching the no-gifts policy and the alcohol policy! "Merry Christmas - here's your First and Final Warning!"

"This world has gone mad! We can't even thank a garbo anymore!"

Actually, you can. What would be a truly wonderful gift would be a handmade card from the kids. On top of that, if you go to the organisation's website, you will always find a "feedback form" for compliments and complaints. Use that form to send a compliment. It usually will make the employee eligible for something within the Company's reward and recognition scheme, and even if they don't have one, it will be something s/he can use in his next performance review or interview to provide an example of how s/he is performing well.

Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year

Thanks to everyone who has supported this blog this year, please accept this virtual bottle of champagne ;)
I have now completed by maternity leave and I have started a HR consulting Company, so there will be some exciting changes with this blog that I will announce in the new year!

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Why we all need to be great sales people

That man with a moustache stalking you in the new car sales yard... 
A stranger you see through the peep-hole in your door trying to get you to change electricity plans...
The immaculately presented real estate lady asking you for your phone number at an open home....
 (Insert Jaws theme song!) 

This is what most people think of when they hear the word "sales", but the reality is that very few sales people fit this mould, and thankfully very few of them continue with the "hard sell" techniques of yesteryear. 

I've always believed that pretty much every job has an element of sales. In some small way, we are all sales people. 
Think about corporate service roles (Finance, WHS, IT, HR etc.). Those who do really well in these service functions sell themselves and their function. Rather than just providing service A in response to request B, these service professionals first develop rapport and relationships with key stakeholders and look at ways they can provide a service to those stakeholders. They anticipate their needs and provide solutions the stakeholder didn't even realise they needed.

For example, one of the best IT Managers I knew set time in her calendar every week to connect with different functional heads in the organisation. These could just be informal "drop ins" ; or could be a set meeting to discuss possible IT needs over the following period. During those meetings she would ask probing questions to really understand that stakeholder's function and then use that information to reflect on how IT could support those initiatives. She would use her professional expertise to make suggestions of products/services, use her understanding of their needs to influence the stakeholders as to why these products/services would help them, and then provide these. In this process she was providing excellent customer service, and yes, selling, IT to that stakeholder. This gives the whole IT function credibility and value to the business and therefore makes it less likely to be seen as a candidate for outsourcing. It arguably also gives the IT people higher job satisfaction and helps to continually develop them and increase their skills. 

Recently someone posted in one of the business groups I am a member of that she wanted a part time role where she could work at home that wouldn't involve sales. Most of the suggestions given were for her to consider being a Virtual Assistant (VA). This is a good suggestion, but how does she develop her business as a VA if she doesn't want to develop and use sales skills? Now to be clear, I’m not talking about Marketing, because although this can often form part of the sales cycle, most people are fairly comfortable with the idea of marketing their services. But just because you’ve attracted a client with a good marketing effort does not mean they will buy from you! This is where I think that the preconceived notions of sales prevent people from truly thinking about their role as salespeople and the enormous value this could bring to their job or business. 

 I put the question “What is Sales” to Pritam Sarkar, Director of SearchCraft Sales Recruitment:

“In essence, sales is influence. So, all of us who work towards achieving an outcome - will influence someone. There are great examples like Mandela or terrible ones like Hitler, who influenced a nation. But each one saw a need, came up with their solution and then influenced people towards a desired outcome. Sounds like the same process we label "sales". 

Essentially sales is a subset of influence, where money changes hands for goods or services provided. Often, I meet people who want to 'start their business'.... and my first question is "are you willing to sell?" because it doesn't matter what you know or what you make until someone is willing to pay for it. You can not have a business unless you want to learn how to sell. In most cases for small start-up businesses, it is 97% sales efforts and 3% domain experience. 

Secondly, sales takes on the character of the individual wielding the influence. So, people who have weak characters and the wrong motives will give sales a bad name. But the problem is not sales, it is about the person using the influence. The challenge is that in a profession with low barriers to entry, low salaries and high incentives for achieving goals, negative stereotypes abound. Essentially, people with good character and integrity can be very good sales people who can help customers achieve their goals whilst earning themselves and their companies the right fees for their time and effort. So, if you have integrity, you should learn how to become a master of influence and enjoy the benefits sales can add to your life and business.” 

So where to start?

If you are working in a business, start to think about how Sales can form part of your role. Essentially, you are planning to understand your customers (internal or external), building relationships, finding solutions for their needs and influencing them to want those solutions.

If you are running your own business, then you will need to learn how to sell. Pritam suggests these books for those willing to dive further into the world of sales: Influence by Robert Cialdini and 'E'- Myth - Michael Gerber.

What do you think? Can thinking about sales differently and developing into a great sales person help you in your career or business?

Thursday, 17 November 2016

I've agreed to be a support person, but I don't know what that means

As a support person you play an important role supporting, but not advocating, for your friend/colleague. First let's start with some background on the role of a support person

Why employers offer a support person

The Fair Work Act (s387(d))  states that if an employer unreasonably refuses an employee's request for a support person to the present at a meeting which may lead to a dismissal, the dismissal may be considered harsh.
This does not mean that every meeting that you are invited to bring a support person to may lead to dismissal, many Companies offer a support person as good practice for any meetings that are part of an investigation (even where you are being interviewed as a witness) ,disciplinary process, or consultation on workplace changes (for example, that may lead to redundancy).

The role of a support person

The Fair Work Commission has given us some direction here. As a support person you:

  • need to be aware of confidentiality. It probably goes without saying, but you are required to keep the meeting confidential and not talk about it with others unless there is good reason (e.g. obtaining legal advice)
  • are not an advocate. This means that you are not to speak on behalf of the employee. You are there as a witness and support. 

Although you can't speak on behalf of the employee, you can speak to the employee and give them prompting/ideas/questions to ask. You should also keep good notes of the meeting. Your friend/colleague will have a thousand things running through his/her mind, so having notes to go back to is a good idea. You can ask for permission to record the meeting. If you do not ask permission and record the meeting, please first reference the relevant state/territory legislation regarding this, and also be aware that the Fair Work Commission generally views convert recordings in the workplace as unacceptable. 

Preparing for the meeting

It is a good idea to be prepared and ask your friend/colleague for any information they have regarding the meeting. This will help you both 'brainstorm' some questions that you may have prior to the meeting. You can then make sure before the end of the meeting that you have had these answered and you are clear on next steps.

Next Steps

Don't leave the room unless you are clear on what the next steps are. You shouldn't agree to anything on the spot (e.g. signing any documents, deciding between redeployment or redundancy), but have the opportunity to discuss and decide after the meeting.
If you are concerned about the way the matter is being handled, or the possible outcome, then it may be a good idea to seek some independent advice.

More workplace tips
Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Am I an employee or a contractor?

You see your dream job advertised, go for the interview, they offer you the job.. hooray! And then they ask you to provide an ABN and your rates.

This recently happened to Simon* who was left feeling a little confused. The Company told him they would provide him with training (which they said was worth $4000), they would provide him with the clients, hours and days to work and all the tools required. So, is he an employee or a self employed contractor?

Photo credit: bark via Visual hunt / CC BY

The Fair Work Act provides a list of indicators that can help to determine if you are an employee or a contractor. These are:

  • Degree of control over how the work is performed
  • Hours of work 
  • Expectation of work
  • Risk
  • Superannuation
  • Tools and Equipment
  • Tax
  • Method of Payment
  • Leave
There are also penalties for any employer trying to disguise an employment relationship as a contracting one (this is called "Sham Contracting"). It is not enough to simply state that someone is not your employee.
In Simon's case, as the Company would be providing the clients, directing his hours and how his work is performed and providing tools and equipment, this would more than likely be seen by the Fair Work Comission to be an employment relationship.

The ATO also has a very good tool to be able to determine if you are an employee for Tax purposes (which is one of the Fair Work indicators above). You can find this tool here.

As I write this, I received a notification about a case in the UK where two Uber drivers have been found to be employees, and not contractors. Naturally, Uber is playing down the potential ramifications of this decision, but it is an interesting one where Uber drivers in Australia are currently considered contractors, but Taxi drivers are employees. As the "share economy" continues to grow, there are likely to be more of these cases brought before the Fair Work Comission for a ruling. You can read about the British decision here.

What to do if you feel you are an employee and not a contractor?
You should seek advice from an employment lawyer before agreeing to anything, or if you are already working in this scenario, then you can still seek advice and claim for back-pay of Superannuation, long service leave etc.

More workplace tips
Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

*Simon is not his real name

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Gender equality is sliding backwards says the World Economic Forum

It's not great news for women in employment this week with the potential changes to the Government's Paid Parental Leave scheme on the horizon, and now it has been reported by the World Economic Forum that it will take 170 years for women to get pay equality. Not only is that a pretty scary number, but this has increased from 118 years as the estimate just 12 months ago.

According to the World Economic Forum:
"The report is an annual benchmarking exercise that measures progress towards parity between men and women in four areas: Educational Attainment, Health and Survival, Economic Opportunity and Political Empowerment. In this latest edition, the report finds that progress towards parity in the key economic pillar has slowed dramatically with the gap – which stands at 59% – now larger than at any point since 2008."

Australia is not faring too well on this list. We are in 46th place, significantly lagging on other parts of the world including most of Europe and New Zealand. Last year Australia was in 36th place, and we have actually declined significantly over the last ten years. 

Photo credit: steve_lodefink via / CC BY

So why does this matter?
As I said in my blog post on Equal Pay Day, apart from the obvious fairness and equity argument, there is an economic one.
The female participation in the workplace in Australia is 65.2% compared to the male rate of 79.2%. If women were paid equally, and we know that part of the answer to this is around caring responsibilities, then we can increase the participation rate in Australia which means more workers, and therefore more taxes being paid, while less benefits ("Government handouts") are paid from those taxes. 
This can only be a good thing for our country as more workers mean a higher GDP and a lower tax burden on our citizens.

There was some good news from this report, and that is that the gap between men and women in terms of education - literacy and school enrolment - is so small that they could be at equal levels within the next 10 years.

We know that old adage of "what gets measured, gets managed", so let's hope that the work being done by the WEF will help make a difference to closing the gender gaps around the world.

More workplace tips
Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Paid Parental Leave Scheme Changes and You

The media has started more reporting today on the proposed changes to the Government's Paid Parental Leave (PPL) scheme. Essentially they are proposing to remove access to the full PPL for those who receive paid parental leave from their employer, so that the maximum received between both PPL and any employer scheme is 18 weeks.

According to ABC News: 
"The Turnbull Government wants to save $1.2 billion by stopping new parents from receiving the full 18 weeks available under the Government's scheme if their employer also offers parental leave. The revised scheme, which would see up to 80,000 women have their taxpayer-funded entitlement reduced or cut altogether, has a proposed start date of January 1."

The Labor Party and Greens have started they will vote "no" to the changes, but One Nation and Derryn Hinch have stated they will likely support the changes, leaving the decision in the hands of Nick Xenophon. He does not support a start date of January 1 as that will effect those already pregnant, but may support a start date of October 1, 2017. A decision is likley to be made in the next few days.

If you want to show your opposition to these changes, you can sign a petition at The Parenthood here and also Getup here.  

Once we know more, I will post with what the changes (if any) are and how that may impact you.

4 November 2016 - SBS Reports that Senator Hinch is no longer supporting the proposed changes. Article is here
31 October 2016 - Nick Xenaphon has confirmed he won't support current scheme according to ABC News. Article is here

Thursday, 29 September 2016

Domestic Violence and Work

According to the Australian Human Rights Comission:

  • In Australia, approximately one woman is killed by her current or former partner every week, often after a history of domestic and family violence.
  • 34% of women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15.
  • 17% of women have experienced violence from a current or former partner since the age of 15 (compared to 5.3% of men).
  • 30% of respondents to a 2011 survey on domestic and family violence and the workplace reported they had experienced violence, and 5% of those respondents had experienced violence in the last 12 months.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, or know someone at work that is, should you tell your Manager? 

This is an entirely personal decision. There may be some support mechanisms available to you in the workplace, and this may assist you with that decision.

Flexible Working Arrangements
There is a provision in the Fair Work Act for someone who is experiencing, or providing care or support to someone who is experiencing, domestic violence to request flexible working arrangements. My previous post regarding requesting flexible working arrangements may assist.

Domestic Violence Leave
Some pubic service departments introduced a special type of leave relating to domestic violence, and some larger Organisations followed suit, so it is always helpful to check your Company policies and procedures, and your Award or Enterprise Agreement to see if there is a provision for this.

Employee Assistance Programs
Most medium-large organisations provide EAP and this is a great option for free counselling sessions and other resources

Security concerns / Domestic Violence Intervention Orders
If you have a concern about your safety at work, or a restraining order that includes your workplace, then I would encourage you to speak to your Manager or HR Manager to try and determine what extra security measures could be enacted in your workplace. (small things like locking doors that are usually left open during the day, or alerting security guards to be extra vigilant could be suggested)

When you work with your partner
Recently there was an Unfair Dismissal case (Leyla Moghimi v Eliana Construction and Developing Group Pty Ltd [2015] FWC 4864) where the victim of domestic violence was dismissed, but her ex-partner retained. She won that unfair dismissal case and was awarded compensation. The clear message from this case was that the onus was on the employer to work with her regarding the Intervention Order. Therefore I would recommend seeking external advice if you, or someone you know, is in a similar situation.

The future of domestic violence in the workplace
Despite the frightening statistics, Australia doesn't have much legislated within employment law to assist those in domestic violence situations. There are a few organisations such as the Australian Human Rights Comission that are actively advocating for more to be done, but in the meantime, at least as a minimum, there is some assistance available in terms of flexible working arrangement requests and unfair dismissal protection.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

When you have issues with your boss

I think I have been fairly lucky that, for the most part, I have had a boss who I've been able to respect and communicate openly with. But what happens when you just don't think your boss is that great? What is all this talk about "managing up"?

Firstly, let's look some issues I hear most commonly from people complaining about their Manager.
Psst... I am not talking here about workplace bullying. If  there are any instances of bullying behaviour,  then you need to immediately take action by following your Company's procedure and/or talking with your Health & Safety representative.

managing up

1. Lack of communication

This is one of the most common complaints by employees regarding their Manager. Interestingly, this is often received by the Manager with exasperation as they don't understand how they could communicate more. Really, that is the key here, as for most employees it is not about the frequency but the value of what is being communicated.
So if you are feeling "out of the loop", then make some notes about specific instances and talk to your boss (yes, this is "Managing Up") and let them know why it would have been important for you to know about xyz. I know this can be a hard thing to do the first time, so bring it up in a way that works with your bosses communication style. I would also bring it up in a way that you have a problem, and you have a solution, but you need your bosses help to get to that solution. 

For example:
"I wanted to just chat to you for a minute about this project I have {project name}.... I found out on Monday that{this happened/this changed} and because I didn't know that before I had to {spend this time/effort} and it was really frustrating. Do you know how I would be able to get on those {email distribution/meeting lists} in future?"

2. "My boss has no idea what I do"

My view on this, is that it isn't necessarily a bad thing. If your boss knew the complete ins and outs of your job you may find yourself with a micro-manager. So the key here is to make sure your boss knows the parts of your job that are important. What does that mean? Well, your boss is your advocate to the manager levels above you, so if you are working on something that will impact on another area of the organisation, you need to make sure your boss understands what you are doing, why, and what you need your boss to do to advocate that for you to the other senior Managers.
If your boss is completely uninterested and doesn't advocate on your behalf, then this may be a motivation and/or competence issue on their part. That is when this can form part of your own thinking about if you can work in an environment with a very "hands-off" boss or whether it is time to look elsewhere.

3. "My boss micro-manages me"

This is the opposite of number 2 and is one of the most difficult situations to be in. I think the best option is to call it out. 

For example:
"I noticed that on my document you inserted a new paragraph and I'd like to understand the reasons behind that. I was trying to convey xyz, did you think it was not effective?"

This may not always work, but sometimes people don't realise they are taking over. I knew of a Manager that corrected every single document in red pen and it drove her team crazy, but she had done it her entire career and refused to change and would take any feedback as a kind of funny joke. Unfortunately if someone stubbornly refuses to change, there isn't any way to get around this, you just either have to let it go and try not to be annoyed by it, or wait until one of you moves on.

3. "Our Manager hates working here and I do too"

I can't tell you how much this makes me cringe. Part of a good leader's role is to protect the team from some of the crappy stuff that happens at work, and not to burden their staff with their own issues.
My advice is to rise above. Make a list of why you are working there and, yes, it is cliché, but focus on those positives. Keeping a good attitude and staying positive will not only make other people see you as one of the "good ones" (always helpful when going for a transfer or promotion!), but will actually help you to feel better. 

Photo credit: kodomut via / CC BY

Final word on managing up

You may have noticed that what all of these instances have in common is that the onus is on you to be pro-active and make your own work days better. 

It is absolutely true that people don't often leave a job, they leave their Manager, but if you are actually happy with your role and can make a few changes here and there to effectively "manage up", you may find yourself in an enjoyable role long term rather than reluctantly dragging your self to work each day.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

"Your role is redundant". What does that mean?

Recently I've had a few questions about redundancy. What it means, what the payments are, and what happens if you see your old job advertised after you have been made redundant.

What to do when told redundant

What is redundancy?

There are two definitions we can review. One is from the Fair Work Act (FWA), and the other from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).
When the FWA definition is met, the employee has no right to an unfair dismissal claim. According to Fair Work, a redundancy has occurred when:
  • the employer doesn't need the employee's job to be done by anyone, or, the employer becomes bankrupt or insolvent, AND
  • the employer has consulted with the employees as required by the Award or Enterprise Agreement, AND
  • the employer is unable to redeploy the employee into another role
The ATO definition is important because if their definition is not met, you may not be entitled to the tax concessions received for redundancy payments. The ATO considers it a genuine redundancy when the job you were doing has been abolished.

What happens if I don't think my role is redundant?

The first thing to consider is the above Fair Work definition. If the employer has not met that criteria, you can make an unfair dismissal claim, but you only have 21 days to do this. Check out the Fair Work website here for more information.

My employer has redeployed me into a new role, but I just want a redundancy payment!

It is true that not everyone is happy to be given an alternative role in the Company, but the Fair Work definition of a redundancy does put an onus on the organisation to find you acceptable alternative employment. 
There have been cases where Fair Work has deemed that the employee is not entitled to redundancy pay where they have refused an alternative role, so make sure you obtain some advice before rejecting any offer of redeployment. 

How do I work out my redundancy payment?

No matter what your contract or enterprise agreement states, as a MINIMUM you must receive the redundancy pay given in the National Employment Standards (NES), if you meet the criteria. You can find the table related to redundancy pay and the criteria that needs to be met (e.g. not be a casual employee, have a minimum of 12 months service, be employed in a business with more than 15 employees etc.) on the FairWork website here
It is also important to note that if you had no redundancy pay provision in your Contract of Employment or Enterprise Agreement prior to 1 January 2010 (when the NES came into effect), then your "years of service" for the purposes of redundancy pay does NOT count prior to that date. So, even if you were employed in 2004, but had no redundancy pay provision in your contract/EA, then the most you would receive today is 11 weeks (for at least 6 years, but less than seven years service).
Additionally, redundancy pay is based on your normal hours as at the date of redundancy. So if you are working part time, even if you worked full time for many years before, the payment is based on your part time rate.

What if I started as a casual, and then became a permanent employee?

Recently a full bench decision at the Fair Work Commission enabled workers who started as casuals, before their positions become permanent, to have their full length of service recognised in the calculation of their final pay out. The Sydney Morning Herald article regarding this case can be found here. As this is a fairly recent case, many employers could be unaware of this decision, so if you find yourself in this situation and your employer is not recognising your initial casual service, you should seek advice.

Do I get paid pro rata long service leave?

Long Service Leave remains as State based legislation and is not part of the Fair Work system. To check your eligibility, you should go to the Industrial Relations Board in your State. For example, NSW Industrial Relations has a calculator available here.

Photo credit: neetalparekh via / CC BY

What if I see my job advertised after I've been made redundant?

As per the definitions above, your job should have been abolished. It does happen that things change, be it Company management, structures, economic conditions etc, and over time your old job title may re-appear in the company, or perhaps a different job title but with much the same duties. There is no "rule" about how long a role needs to be abolished for in order for it to be considered redundant, even though many people may use 6 or 12 months as a general time frame.
If you see your job advertised and it was within 21 days you can make an unfair dismissal claim (provided you meet the service and income threshold requirements) by claiming your role was not made redundant, and therefore you were dismissed in an unfair, unjust or harsh manner.
If more than 21 days have passed, you have very limited options and this is why it is so important to seek advice immediately if you dismissed for any reason where you feel it was not justified.

Assuming the Company was good, and you enjoyed the job, you could always apply for the newly advertised role. Just be aware of any "pay back" provisions for your redundancy pay that the Company may have (this is particularly the case in the Public Service ) where you have received a redundancy payment and are then rehired.


Information provided here is general in nature and based on the Fair Work System. Not all workers in Australia are covered by the Fair Work Act, for example, State Government employees. If you are unsure, you can check the Fair Work website here.

More workplace tips
Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support.

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Why you are being paid less because you are a woman

Today, September 8, is Equal Pay Day

Why today? Well, this is the day that as a woman you have now earned the same as the average man in Australia did for FY15-16. That's right, it takes women about 14 months to earn the average male yearly income.

Here are some more concerning stats:
- the current gender pay gap, according to  to Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) is currently 16.6 per cent and has been between 15 and 19 per cent for the past two decades. 
Gender pay gap in ASX 200 organisations is 28.7%
- Average superannuation balance for women at retirement is 52.8% less than for men
- Proportion of CEOs who are female is 15.4%
Gender Pay Gap

Why is there a gender pay gap?

According to WGEA the reason for the pay gap existing is:

- women and men are concentrated in different kinds of jobs leading to industry and occupational segregation
I translate this as we just don't value traditional "women's" jobs which is the "caring" roles such as teaching, child care, nursing and social work. They continue to attract lower wages, which is a phenomenon we do not see in male dominated occupations and industries.

- earnings differences between male and female-dominated industries and occupations
It should be noted that while the starting wage for a man in a female-dominated industry is $82,000 per year, the starting wage for women in female-dominated industries is about $67,000.

- under representation of women in senior positions

- the distribution of unpaid caring responsibilities

- discrimination and bias.

Why should we care about  the gender pay gap?

Apart from the obvious fairness and equity argument, there is an economic one.
The female participation in the workplace is 65.2% compared to the male rate of 79.2%. If women were paid equally, and we know from the above that part of the answer to this is around caring responsibilities, then we can increase the participation rate in Australia which means more workers, and therefore more taxes being paid, while less benefits ("Government handouts") are paid from those taxes. 
And can I remind you of that stat above that women have less than half the Superannuation of their male counterparts at retirement? What a huge burden for the tax payers to bear as women will be forced to rely on Government pensions and other social programs as they age.

You may have seen this article where John Howard says that caring responsibilities are what limit the "capacity" of women in the workplace. And he is quite right of course, as women strive to find a balance between our home and work lives. And that is PRECISELY why our politicians and policy makers need to be actively working on ways to encourage and promote female participation in the workplace. It makes me unspeakably sad that a former politician has made these comments. This is someone that was in a position to help change this and make a difference! 

What can you do in your workplace?

Find out about what Diversity programs are in your workplace. Participate in these programs, forums and educate yourself on this issue and then make any changes you can, such as:
- influencing policy and decision makers 
- mentoring and coaching
- contributing to policy decisions in your workplace around salaries (this includes remuneration reviews and recruitment offers)

If there are no Diversity programs, then ask why not? Maybe you can be the Diversity champion at your workplace and make a meaningful difference.

The more that we as employees, employers and Australian citizens become informed about these issues and work towards solutions, the more notice the Government Policy makers will take. Let's hope that there is some real change over the next two decades.

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Is your employer profiling you?

A study was just released  showing that employers are profiling current and potential employees by using information they have posted on social media. According to the study, an astonishing 55% even have a "profiling policy" in place to support the practice. According to The Conversation there are also candidates who claim they were asked to give their social media passwords to their prospective employer!

From an employers perspective, this is skating some legal lines as they can open themselves up to claims of discrimination and breaches of the Privacy Act. But assuming the study is true, and this is still occurring, what can you do as an employee?

We already know that there is discrimination in recruitment, and not always intentionally. According to Weekend Sunrise on August 28, research suggests that given the same CV, but one with a male name and one with a female name, the male will be interviewed ; and it is the same where three resumes are provided but only one has an aglo-celtic name, that one will be chosen over the other two.

Now, let's consider a situation where you have posted on Facebook something that an unscrupulous employer decides would have an impact on your work life. Let's say that you are pregnant, or looking after an elderly parent. You may not receive a job offer and you suspect that the Company looked at your Facebook posts and used that as a decision making factor. But, how can you prove it? I would say in the vast majority of cases, you can't. So, prevention is always better than cure.

1. Never comment on your Company, Manager, colleagues, or actually anything about your workplace, on social media

You may wonder why this needs to be said, but there are plenty of cases that have been held where an employee has been disciplined or terminated for doing just that. Saying "I hate Mondays" is entirely different to "My boss is a --insert swear word here--" and the latter is what can get you in some hot water. Even if your privacy settings are locked down, you never know which friend of yours may actually be friends with (or related to!) your boss or feel obligated to report you due to their own role in the organisation.

2. Set up Google Alerts

It is best to know what people will find when they Google your name, so set up a google alert. This is super easy and especially handy if you have an uncommon name. If your name is Jack Smith, then set up an alert for your name and profession (think about what a prospective employer would Google so, "Jack Smith IT Manager", for example, may be your Google alert)

3. Think about your public social media presence as a brand

Whatever social media you have, check what information is "public". 
If you have a private Instagram account, then don't accept followers you don't know. 
With Facebook, ALL profile pictures are public, and remain that way long after you've put up a new profile picture, so it may be prudent to go back and edit the settings of some of those past photos.
And don't forget LinkedIn. This is the go to site for employers to check candidates (after all it is set up as an online resume), so please make sure your data is up to date and your profile photo is appropriate. You may have had a lot of fun at that glamour photography shoot, but for a corporate role, it probably isn't the best photo to use.

What can I do if I believe I have been discriminated against?

It depends on the situation, but generally speaking you should first put your allegations to the Company. If this is not resolved in an appropriate way, you can either seek assistance from Fair Work (search General Protections - Adverse Action) or the Anti-Discrimination Board in your State or Territory

More workplace tips

Whether you are an employee or run your own business, we'd love for you to join us at Savvy Business Women, our Facebook group dedicated to information, collaboration and support for Business Women.

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Impostor syndrome and what to do about it

Do you ever wonder how you got your promotion? 
Are you concerned that some day some one will "work it out" that you aren't any good at your job? 

You're not alone. 

This is called "imposter syndrome" and it can manifest itself in different ways and to different levels of severity.  It refers to high achievers who internalise their achievements and think of themselves as a fraud rather than holding the belief in themselves that others do.

 “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud. They’re going to fire me — all these things. I’m fat; I’m ugly…” 
-Kate Winslet [Interview mag. Nov 2000] ( after she received two Academy Award nominations!)

It may also not surprise you to learn that apparently women are more likely than men to suffer impostor syndrome. So what to do about it? 

Reflect on your career path 

How did you get here? What successes have you had? 
Make an effort to really think about something you are proud of. Now think about someone at work that you *know* to be a poor performer. Could that person have completed that achievement? Could they do your job? Why not? 
Do these exercises to start to give yourself much needed pep talks and start to believe in yourself 

Question your inner self-critic 

Every time that demoralising voice pops up, remember that it is YOUR voice. You really are your biggest critic. Compare your own thoughts to the feedback you have been given from your Manager, peers, team members. Do they match? 

Fake it until you make it 

If you STILL don't believe in yourself, then it is time to fake it. Just pretend with yourself that you CAN do those things. You may be surprised to find that your are able to do them really well!

Why is this important

Promotions and pay increases 

If you don't have faith in yourself, and if you think that you are a fraud, how are you going to be able to effectively apply and interview for a promotional role?
Or if you aren't looking for a step up, how are you going to negotiate for a pay increase? No matter what your "day job" is, the one thing we all have in common is that we are sales people. For ourselves.

Leadership and self confidence are interlinked  

Everyone wants a Manager they can look up to. If your leader has no self confidence, then this is demoralising for the entire team. You don't need to be totally egotistical, but you do need to believe in yourself and your team for them to believe the same.

Role model for others

This is not just about your leadership skills at work, but how about your kids, nieces, nephews etc see you. Young people are always looking for role models to emulate. 

So, own that ambition! Own your successes! 

Remember, you can still be proud of your achievements, without being a complete ass.  ;)

Do you suffer from Impostor syndrome? Do you have any tips and tricks to share?
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