Catherine Fox, WLNZ's Director of Diversity, on the importance of women coming together.

Catherine Fox, Director of Diversity at Women & Leadership New Zealand, talks about the importance of women coming together, cupcake feminism, and grassroots activism in the workplace.

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This year was a really big one for Women & Leadership Australia and New Zealand. We had events in Auckland and Christchurch, and over in Aus we ran the #100daysforchange campaign. It has been a big year for Women & Leadership!

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NZ ranks in the top 10 for gender equality globally. Job done, right?​

Woman wearing glasses

The stunning vistas and incredible cuisine are what we often associate with the land of the long white cloud, but an achievement that we hear about less – but is just as important – is that New Zealand consistently ranks exceptionally well (far better than Australia!) in the World Global Gender Gap Index. According to the World Economic Forums’s calculations, we are currently ranked 9th, only just behind Slovenia and up from 13th in 2014. (Comparatively, Australia seems to be going backward – it was 24th in 2014, but has since dropped to 46th.)

In fact, New Zealand’s lack of sexism reached international acclaim when an NZ model tried to recreate the infamous New York catcall video, and all she encountered on the streets of Auckland was a polite man asking for directions.  

Yet despite the admirable ranking and international media, there is still much work to do. A recent report found that the wage gap is stuck at 12% - where it has remained for over a decade – despite many measures to counteract it. The CEO gender imbalance has also been described as ‘gobsmacking’, with no – yes, that’s right, zero – women listed as CEOs in NZ’s top 50 businesses.   

The fact that NZ could rank so well in the Global Gender Gap Index, yet still experience such significant problems with gender equality means that it is more important than ever for the female leaders of NZ to band together, support each other, and plan for a more equal future. 

This context has set the scene for the launch of Women & Leadership New Zealand (WLNZ) and its inaugural NZME New Zealand Women’s Leadership Symposium, featuring two days of compelling speaker presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities.  

After years of incredible success in Australia (the Symposium is Australia’s most highly attended women’s leadership event), the Women’s Leadership Symposium will debut in New Zealand this year on the 21st- 22nd of June at the Langham Hotel in Auckland.  

Focusing on the challenges and opportunities for female leaders, the Symposium will bring together New Zealand’s best and brightest female talent to explore topics including gender equality, leadership, career advancement and life fulfilment.  With a combination of engaging subject matter, lively debate and practical activities, attendees will learn, share, and grow. At the end of the two days, participants will walk away from the Symposium inspired and armed with a vastly enhanced network of like-minded women to support their future endeavours.  

The Symposium features a diverse and impressive line-up of motivational female speakers, including Rachel Smalley (television and radio journalist and broadcaster; Host, Early Edition, NewstalkZB), Dr. Jackie Blue (Equal Opportunities Commissioner, Human Rights Commission), Barbara Kendall (Olympic athlete), and many, many more.  

The event is expected to sell out so early bookings are strongly advised.

Author: Natasha Gallardo, CEO, Working Mothers Connect and Strategic Partner, WLNZ

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