A special International Women’s Day edition of the LeaderShip of Fools podcast, featuring four female business leaders, takes a pragmatic view of the gender debate.
In today’s heated media environment, it’s rare to hear gender balance and related issues presented in a calm, friendly manner without extreme opinions muddying the discourse.
Luckily, the latest release of the LeaderShip of Fools podcast, dubbed #balanceforbetter, does exactly that – and just in time for International Women’s Day.
Featuring guest speakers Alice Sidhu, Simone Caroll and Kate Temby, the hour-long chat was hosted by MYOB’s General Manager of Marketing and Direct, Natalie Feehan.
For additional insight on the specifics of the discussion and speakers, we followed up with Feehan for an insider’s perspective on what is an increasingly important topic at all levels of society.
The LeaderShip of Fools podcast series focuses on all topics related to leadership, with each episode featuring C-suite executives or board representatives from a variety of businesses.
As such, it’s not the first episode of the podcast that Feehan has been involved with, having also discussed topics like #metoo and imposter syndrome, but it is the first one she’s hosted as presenter.
“I was lucky to be joined by three amazing women on this podcast, each with amazing life stories and executive experience to share with listeners,” said Feehan.
“I worked with Simone at REA Group – she is an experienced executive with over 20 years’ experience driving cultural change and transformation for growth.
“Alice and Kate I met while recording other episodes of LeaderShip of Fools. Alice is, among other things, a digital transformation expert and she was also a partner for IBM. Kate has extensive industry in investment and finance across multiple businesses including JB Were, Goldman Sachs and Affirmative.”
As a group of high-performing, working women, the group were able to talk about the issue of gender balance from multiple angles, whether from the perspective of business leaders, family leaders and as members of the general public.
The end result is an engaging talk that never shies away from the real issues.
“When we talk about gender equality, we often think of needing to gain better balance in the boardroom, in media, in business, in wealth, in sports – but what Simone calls out is that, in order to create real change, and to create a shift in gender equality, what we need to do is create better self-balance.
“This includes uncovering unconscious bias, exploring the ‘value’ we place on traditional, gender-based roles and activities, and creating a balanced life.”
While discussions of gender balance so often focus on the problems faced by women, this podcast gave a considerable amount of time talking to the issue with regard to both sexes.
Talking points included domestic dynamics between partners, but also encompassed how men and boys are being treated in general, with all the speakers voicing their concern for the direction in which things are headed.
“As the traditional roles of men and women are challenged, it can create a range of conscious and subconscious reactions,” explained Feehan.
“There are elements of gender identity that are so deeply embedded and hardwired, that they’re tough to shift.
“Feelings of displacement, fear, vulnerability are all common, as is a loss of sense of belonging and this is not just among men but also women.”
And, according to Temby, this effect could well get stronger as the impact of societal change is likely to increase in the years ahead as an increasing amount of wealth transfers from men to women.
Early in the discussion, Temby cites research that estimates by 2020 women will control around 32 percent of the world’s wealth, which is likely to have many, hard-to-predict effects.
“What and how women choose to invest their wealth, how they manage it, and who they get advice from is different from men,” said Feehan.
“And there is a social impact too – the traditional gender roles, decision making and ‘power’ associated with wealth are all being challenged.”
As Sidhu points out, these changes are unlikely to come easily for society as a whole due to the long legacy of imbalance.
“Classical history including Greek mythology and archetypes typically placed women as faithful wives or sexually predatory,” said Sidhu.
“This has been the narrative and therefore the culture for centuries.
“We are trying to shift thousands of years of conditioning.”
And how should we start? Well, as Feehan is quick to point out, there’s now an excellent podcast available on the topic.
“ For men and women who would like to listen to a candid discussion that explores gender equality and to hear stories from three amazing women about the gender challenges each faces, and has faced, the latest LeaderShip of Fools podcast is a must-hear.”