Celebrating International Women’s Day - we talk to our founder, Claire Ponsford
International Women’s Day is celebrated worldwide on the 8th of March. The 2020 theme, 'An equal world is an enabled world', recognises the important role we all play – as women, men, non-binary and gender diverse people. It takes all of us, working in collaboration, breaking down stereotypes to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities.
Wavelength director Claire Ponsford, and co-founder of Wavelength International with Dr John Bethell, reflects not only on how far we’ve come but also how far we all still have to go to breakdown stereotypes and achieve gender parity.
What progress have you seen both in the recruitment and medical sectors towards gender parity?
“The recruitment industry has always attracted a reasonably high percentage of women but now we’re seeing more and more women taking the lead which is really inspiring.
We always think equal within our workplace at Wavelength and have implemented progressive people and culture policies to our predominantly female workforce. Women make up 70% of our employees and an overall average of four years tenure reflects our commitment to culture, diversity and our employee-first values.
However, 20 years ago when we first started developing our human resource policies at Wavelength, I was really surprised that Australia had no official employer-paid parental leave scheme, especially having come from the UK where this was a given wherever you worked.
We knew we would benefit in the long term from developing our own strong parental leave policy. And we were right to tackle this challenge head-on. We now have multiple employees, predominantly female but sometimes male, who have worked with us for more than 10 years, who are experts in their fields and hold invaluable knowledge, all who have been on parental leave multiple times.
If our policy hadn’t been as supportive from early on, we would have most likely lost that knowledge and skill base. These parents have felt supported by us and in turn have given us 110 per cent of their commitment and we are extremely grateful.
We hope to continue to be leaders in offering equal opportunities within our industry."
Are you optimistic about seeing more women in medical leadership roles?
“The Australian medical industry has come a long way since the first female graduate was registered to practice in the late 1800s."* Today, according to the Australian Medical Association, female medical graduates now outnumber males, and since the 1990s medicine no longer belongs to a specific gender.*
In the medical world, the road towards gender parity has taken longer, but there are now more female than male medical students who will likely flow through all the way to the top as they graduate. In fact, for the first time, female GPs now outnumber male GPs in Australia with Women accounting for 50.2 percent of members at the RACGP in 2016-2017, up from 47 percent in 2012-2013. Many of the other medical specialities are seeing significant increases in the balance of female to male doctors but there is still some way to go to achieve gender parity. With some of these positive signs, women may now feel there are more pathways for them in medicine. Collaboration between men and women really is the key to overcoming the challenges women face in reaching the top levels of medical management.
We’re proud to work with some of Australia’s leading Doctors, Specialists and Clinical Directors who recognise the important role we all have, and we will continue to support an unbiased medical recruitment process. We will also continue to educate our healthcare employers on the importance of diversity when recruiting new medical staff."
Thanks for your insights Claire.
“International Women’s Day has become a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate the courage and determination of the women who changed history, and those who will advance gender equality into the future.”*
UN Women National Committee (NC) Australia’s International Women’s Day Breakfast
Encouraged by Wavelength’s Paid Volunteer Day policy, last year a number of our Wavies joined many other like-minded women and men to volunteer for the UN Women’s National Committee Australia annual International Women’s Day Breakfast. They helped to collect donations towards the UN Women’s current projects working to empower women and whole communities within the Asia Pacific region.
A highlight was hearing from some inspiring speakers, such as Mele Maualaivao (Country Program Coordinator (Samoa), UN Women), Senator the Hon Marise Payne (Minister for Foreign Affairs), Sam Mostyn (Non-Executive Director and Sustainability Adviser) and Clive Stiff FAICD (Chief Executive Officer, Unilever Australia and New Zealand).
An equal world is an enabled world. How will you help forge a gender-equal world? Celebrate women's achievement. Raise awareness against bias. Take action for equality.*
Interested in joining a company that celebrates equal opportunity and diversity? Look through our current opportunities at Wavelength.
*Sources: Sydney Uni Medical Graduates, Australian Medical Association, UN Women, International Women’s Day