International Women’s Day (IWD) is obviously about acknowledging and supporting women, but this year's theme, #BalanceForBetter, calls for something more.
It draws together people from all walks of life, not only in the call for gender equality but for a diversity of cultures and sexualities. This year it's also calling for more men to join the conversation so that both genders can work towards balance - particularly in the workplace.
On the eve of #IWD2019, four Sydney universities - the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the University of Sydney, and Macquarie University - combined efforts to host a breakfast and guest panel of industry and tertiary leaders.
Chaired by UTS' Aaron Ngan, the panel included Angela Priestly, founder of the business news platform Women’s Agenda, and Attila Brungs, President and Vice-Chancellor of UTS.
With emphasis on the theme #BalanceForBetter, each speaker called for men to be brought into the discussion about gender parity.
Ms Chio Verastegui, a partner at the firm Bain & Company, said: “We’re comfortable with our girls being more like boys but I want us to be comfortable with our boys being more like girls.”
CRO at Commonwealth Bank Ingrid Childs, extolled the benefits of having more women in the workplace.
“When we have places that work better for women, we’ll have places that work better for men,” she said.
Panellists agreed that one of the biggest issues for women in the business world, is maternity leave. Many women never return to work, or struggle to do so.
Attila Brungs called for a shift in gender attitudes where companies welcomed back women in a ‘business as usual’ approach.
Also discussed was the idea that "balance" extends beyond gender equality, and into achieving equality for minority groups.
“It’s about getting more diversity into the workforce," Angela Priestly said. "And whether that’s diversity of culture, of sexuality, of gender, of ideas, of different upbringings, of different universities... it’s really important that people start to look for that - to ensure that they’ve got the best possible people with the best possible ideas.”
The panel discussion was one of many events organised to mark International Women's Day.