Diversity, Culture and Inclusion? On IWD 2021, let’s start with including Culturally Diverse Women!

There are so many facets to diversity. Diversity is a broad-based area that comprises of gender, LGBTIQA+, race, ethnicity, migration status, age and disability to name a few. In the context of International Womens Day 2021, we asked Angelina Pillai, CEO of the Association of Consulting Architects, to share with us her reflections on these challenges.

“Knowing what diversity means is one thing. Knowing how to address diversity is another. And that is what inclusion is. The ‘how’. How are we, you and the wider professions, addressing these issues and embedding diversity and inclusive culture principles in your workplaces, in your teams and as part of your professional duty?

My first anthropology assignment at Adelaide University back in 1990 was to critically analyse Sherry Ortner’s feminist literature asking the question, Is Female to Male as Nature is to Culture? (1974). Once I recovered from the mild conniption that I suffered as a fresh international student from Malaysia where critically analysing anything, let alone an expert who has spent the best part of their life researching their work was considered an academic crime; I realised that there was more to this than I wanted to believe at the time.

There is so much to unpack here, but I won’t go into the details of her work, as I don’t recall being overly affected by those findings then and I would much rather forget the miserable mark I suffered in 1990 as a result of not ‘critically analysing’ anything in that piece. And secretly, I thought things would be different when I hit middle-age. Then I hit middle-age and reflected on my own upbringing in an International Women’s Day message on the importance of seeing strong women leaders in public life, and the need to push for basic human rights for all, not just women. Similarly, my International Men’s Day reflections spoke to a similar theme.

But decades on, the story is still the same and the pendulum of culture has not really swung. Sherry Ortner may have written about the nature-culture dichotomy in an era when women as a class were struggling for recognition and validation of their differences, however, the issues around gender, inclusivity, equality, equity, diversity and respect are rife now more so than ever. Women are still nowhere near where we should be with representation at the board table, community leadership, workforce participation, politics and the never-ending saga of the gender pay gap, to name but a few battles we face.

The recent alleged cases plaguing Parliament are just the tip of the iceberg and as we examine the unimaginable inequalities that have been haunting women, we unravel a compelling feature of our society that needs urgent action. I will refrain from regurgitating the plethora of these news and media stories on gender pay gap, sexual harassment and injustices of women’s rights as there are too many to cite. But are these matters of plain ignorance, blatant or unconscious biases, discrimination, lack of professional integrity and ethics or just bad luck? One could argue that they are a combination of all and then some…”

Over the course of the coming months, ACoP through its Diversity, Culture and Inclusion Portfolio Committee will be working with thought leaders and experts in discussing, debating and delivering outcomes across the range of diversity, culture and inclusion principles. Part of this initiative will see a series of Round-Tables and panel discussions that are aimed at ensuring diversity, culture and inclusion are at the forefront of professional practice as we dissect these policy and advocacy areas to establish the core priorities in support of this agenda.

For more details on the work of our Diversity, Culture and Inclusion Portfolio Committee please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professioms.org.au.

ACoP welcomes Return to Fact-Based Policy-Making

The Australian Council of Professions welcomes the US administration’s return to making policies based on science and evidence-based facts. The commitments made by US President Joe Biden in his inauguration speech raise substantial hope that the United States will now be able to more effectively counter and mitigate the serious health and environmental challenges it has faced in recent times.

In his speech from the Capitol, newly inaugurated President Joe Biden committed to “the common objects that define Americans… Opportunity, Security, Liberty, Dignity, Respect, Honor and, yes, the Truth.” He further stated “And each of us has a duty and responsibility – especially as leaders – to defend the truth and to defeat the lies.

Keen to start the new approach without delay, President Biden then signed 17 executive orders, including making mask-wearing compulsory in areas of federal jurisdiction, re-joining the Paris Climate Accord and bringing the US back into the World Health Organizsation (WHO) while appointing distinguished expert Dr Fauci as head of the US delegation. Biden also rolled back many of the recent actions that disregarded science, the environment and public health experts.

I am impressed that newly-inaugurated President Biden wasted no time in actioning a substantial number of decisions based on the advice of the team of scientists and professionals that he has assembled since his election in November 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic and climate change emergencies require urgent fact-based actions.” said ACoP President Klaus Veil. “This sounds like a clear wake-up-call for politicians and the public to again listen to and take the advice of experts. What a great inspiration for our Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism!

President Biden also clearly stated during the remote swearing-in of over 1000 of his staff: “If you’re ever working with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I promise I will fire you on the spot. On the spot! Everybody is entitled to be treated with decency.” He also issued orders ensuring that Americans are again protected from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and/or sexual orientation. ACoP Vice-President and professionalism advocate Julie Strous observed that this sets a refreshing tone for the culture of the Biden administration. “With the demonstrated commitment to science – and evidence-based policies, this again creates an environment where truth and facts determine strategies and their implementations, not political convenience, racism and misogyny” Dr Strous said.

For more information on the Year of the Professions, Professionals and Professionalism, please contact us on 1300 664 587 or CEO@Professions.org.au!

International Womens Day 2020

As in previous years, the Australian Council of Professions celebrates the International Day of Women by acknowledging, promoting and celebrating the vital position and contribution of female professionals in the professions and professionalism.

We believe that equality is not only a women’s issue, but is essential for economies professions, businesses, economies and communities to thrive.

In this context we note the “8 Imperatives for Gender Equity in the Workplace” research report recently published by the Australian Institute of Project Management (AIPM):

Through their research, AIPM have identified eight imperatives that Australian governments, society, professionals and industry need to urgently address to speed up the journey to gender equality in the workplace to the benefit of all Australians.

AIPM’s CEO Elizabeth Foley said that childcare reforms introduced in 2018 by the federal government presented significant disincentives to women from professional backgrounds returning to work after having children.
Under the current settings, if combined family income exceeds the set upper limits by just one dollar, the amount provided by the Child Care Subsidy Scheme plunges by at least half and in some circumstances by more than half,” she says.

ACoP CEO Lee Tonitto says “Our Diversity and Inclusion Portfolio Committee helps identify and develop best practice policies for broad-based diversity and inclusivity (e.g. gender, LGBTI, race, ethnicity, migration status, age, disability, etc.) of professionals, their professions and professional associations.

The Australian Council of Professions (ACoP) believes that a gender-equal world can be healthier, wealthier and more harmonious – so let’s make it happen!

2019-20 Strategic Plan

Our Strategic Plan for 2019-20 was released today.

The development process had started with the 2019 Strategic Review and Planning day on 25 June 2019 in Melbourne. Members were invited to participate and two facilitators assisted the review and planning process.

In summary, our overall Purpose, Vision and Mission were re-confirmed with the goal of becoming “the Meeting Place” for Thought Leaders on all things Professional.

Stategic Plan 2019-20 Overview

A Strategic Review and Refresh Day is planned for April 2020.

International Women’s Day 2018

This year again we participated in the International Women’s Day celebration held National Surveyors House in Deakin, Canberra.

Organised by the Australia India Business Council ACT ‘Women in Business’ Chapter, the event celebrated the ‘Colour of Versatility’ and was lead by Anna Palathinkal from our Member Professional Association the Surveying and Spatial Sciences Institute (SSSI). Special guest for the evening was The Honourable Speaker for the ACT Legislative Assembly, Ms Joy Burch. The event was attended by a number of successful women influencers from the ACT, inlcuding our CEO Ms Liz Lang who gave a short speech.