It’s International Women’s Day. Whoop-dee-do.

Research out today in New Zealand reveals women made up only 18 per cent of senior management teams at companies. Two percent down on last year and the worst result since the firm doing the research began the survey in 2004.

The thing is, International Women’s Day is now just the time of year when surveys and research get released showing us nothing has changed. Breakfasts are hosted and videos made and senior women wah on at younger women and wot not but the reality is it ain’t doing jack. Token gestures are part of the problem.

I wrote this piece on the insincerity and ineffectiveness of corporate diversity initiatives and things like the Fearless Girl statue 11 months ago:

Is it time we admitted the system was broken? That something largely designed by men of means for men of means isn’t intended to serve the interests of those outside of that group, and no matter how many statues we erect celebrating a gender-diverse investment fund, or how many times we “lean in” or attend a breakfast for International Women’s Day, it might be time to reject these pretences in favour of the rallying cries heard during the fights to win the vote or to protect our right to choose what we do with our bodies and our lives.

It still holds.

I wrote this 6 months ago:

“Work, in its modern form, is a fundamentally male construct, designed by men, for men. Until that is openly and truly acknowledged I don’t believe we will ever start to tackle the range of issues at play that keep women from being truly equal.”

It still holds.

I wrote this 3 months ago.

Up to one in five women will experience sexual assault as an adult. And New Zealand was ranked worst of all OECD countries in rates of sexual violence in 2009. Despite our shameful statistics and clear indications of a problem, we haven’t seen quite the same level of revelation here as the US has. Are there a set of conditions in this country that make coming forward more difficult or the problem, more hidden? Are the industries where power can be too readily abused too small for people to feel safe in coming forward?

That just became an eerie and somewhat sad inevitably as Newsroom busted the door down on serious allegations of sexual assault and harassment at law firm Russell McVeigh came to light.

I wrote this 2 weeks ago.

You should probably re-examine the idea that your corporate diversity policies and awards will hold much stock now too. Because Time’s Up. Not just on tolerating, excusing or tidying away sexual harassment but on lip service to solving the problem.

I am yet to hear or see any New Zealand business coming forward to say anything about what they’re doing proactively to combat sexual assault and harassment in the workplace. Not a single comment that suggests there’s been a reckoning or even reflection on what’s going on at their place.

Chatting with entrepreneur and CEO of Flossie Jenene Crossan this morning she highlighted the difficulty in attracting venture capital funding for businesses run by women. Of all venture capital, only 4% goes to female founders from VCs. As she said “Sit with that for a mo”. Even when we to do our own thing, trying to bust out of the system and build our own businesses, women, still face inherit prejudice and inequality. The system is broken.

It’s a banner day for anyone like me who writes about inequality and prejudice and sexual assault, but I guess my point is how many more pieces and for long will I be writing about how bad it is for women and how broken the system is. International Women’s Day is not a day for celebration. It’s become a day of shame and anger.

I don’t want your videos and platitudes. I don’t want your statues and your hashtags and policies. I want to see rage and action and revolution. So far ANZ are the only company who’ve done anything meaningful with the announcement of their early adoption of 26 weeks paid maternity leave.

I remember asking about gender equality targets on this very day a few years ago and, well, you could hear a pin drop.

So if you do nothing else today, answer the women who ask fair questions. Don’t hide behind platitudes. Acknowledge nothing you’ve done has changed a damn thing and ask women what they think would actually bring about change. Hell, invest in a business run by a woman. Just because you have no hair, doesn’t mean there’s not demand for an online business that makes finding hair appointments easy.

Women (and men – why not?!?), go to your breakfasts and your meetings and your events and ask what the pay gap at your company is. Ask why your company hasn’t done what ANZ has done.

Don’t stand for silence. Fire up. Rage against the machine. Seethe with anger. Burn it all down. Happy International Women’s Day.

Leave a comment