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International Women’s Day: What does a gender equal workplace mean to us? (part 2)


Mar 4, 2020

Earlier this week, we opened the conversation about what a gender equal workplace means to some of our people and customers around the world. And we are excited to continue the conversation in the run up to International Women’s Day on Sunday 8th March.

Devere Bryan – Head of Strategic Partnerships, Hong Kong

“A place where people feel confident that they have a voice”

Having spent the past 20 years working in banking and big corporate telecoms, I’ve witnessed the failures and missed opportunities that can occur in industries and firms where there has traditionally and historically been a dominance in gender at decision making levels right though the core of a business. Thankfully this is changing. Over the past two years we have seen milestones in banking, technology and many other industries where the best human for the job, got the job, regardless of their gender or the level of the role. 

To me a gender equal workplace means a safe environment where every person who chooses to stand, sit or kneel in it, feels they are surrounded by people that only judge them on their work and their values. Not their appearance, not their height or weight, nor their gender. 

It’s a place where people feel confident that they have a voice, and an opportunity to grow, or help others grow. 

Sophie Duggan – Senior Customer Experience Specialist, New Zealand

“It’s about a genuine commitment to equality for everyone across the workplace”

Female, economist, solo mother – all adjectives that describe me but do not define who I am. All adjectives that make me unique and different to others, but I am more than just the sum of my parts. 

To me a gender equal workplace is not about having the same balance of gender at the table. It’s not about ‘ticking the box’. It’s about a genuine commitment to equality for everyone across the workplace, and entrenching it in the way everyone operates. 

We need to ensure the same opportunities are offered to everyone, and it’s about choosing the person or persons who best fit the requirements of the role because of their skillset, not because of their gender.

However, that is not to say there shouldn’t be diversity at the table. Having different genders, sexualities, races or cultural backgrounds helps others in the business to know their voice will be heard. 

We need to create environments where everyone is seen as the unique individual they are. The matter of gender shouldn’t need to be part of the conversation. By doing this people feel included, empowered and want to come to work knowing they can be who they are regardless of their identifying factors, knowing we all have access to the same opportunities and resources, such as flexible work hours, as well as enjoying the same rewards.

Laura Jackson – Founder of Popcorn Shed, United Kingdom

“Treat everyone as you would like to be treated”

Gender equality in the workplace means not discriminating or favouring based on a person’s gender. And respecting each other’s talents, no matter the gender, religion or sexual orientation. And of course, this equality extends to getting the same amount of money for the things you do at work. Simply put, treat everyone as you would like to be treated.

Growing up, I was extremely fortunate to have very modern, liberal and encouraging parents. I have three brothers and we were all treated as equals. I was led to believe from an early age that we had the same opportunities and responsibilities regardless of gender. 

I luckily have not experienced much in the way of sexism in the food and drink industry. However, there have been times when I have felt uncomfortable while working as a management consultant before my venture into gourmet popcorn. 

As a director of a business, it is important for me to create a culture of equality and positivity. Popcorn Shed exists for those sweet sharing moments that matter. People associate popcorn with those fun sharing moments at Christmas time, birthdays and trips to the cinema. And as Popcorn Shed continues to grow, I will ensure that the positivity and inclusivity is at the core of what we do.

Erin McCannel – Account Manager, Xero, Canada

“A trusting and empowered environment…to do the best work of our lives, unapologetically”

It has been an empowering experience and a privilege to be part of a global tech company that is working towards achieving gender balance across our business. Our team’s commitment to the diversity and equality of opportunities is essential for our continued success.

My favourite quote from Vern? Myers is “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance” – it reminds us that our participation in diversity is pivotal to its success. In business, without diverse thought and perspective we overlook new avenues and opportunities to evolve in an increasingly dynamic world. So how can we incorporate diversity and inclusion,  and thrive in the workplace?

As employees, we should not solely rely on our recruitment teams to generate diversity. When it comes to achieving gender equality in the workplace, we all play a part in fostering an encouraging environment that places equal value on the opinions of our colleagues. When ideas and opinions are shared, are they given equal consideration? How does tone and delivery influence our acceptance of ideas depending on the seniority or gender of the speaker? These are key considerations and reflections we should carry with ourselves, to better understand the biases that we hold and how we can overcome them to value opinions and opportunities equally.

Stefanie Redmond – Social Media Manager, Xero, United States

“Access to the same rights and opportunities regardless of gender”

A gender equal workplace means being able to bring your whole authentic self to work without fear. It means being comfortable speaking your opinion and knowing your voice is heard. It means feeling respected by your colleagues as a peer, and having your thoughts and ideas hold equal weight. It means being paid equal compensation for equal work. It means all people have access to the same rights and opportunities regardless of gender. 

Achieving gender equality is important for workplaces not only because it’s the ‘right thing’ to do, but because it’s also linked to a country’s overall economic performance. A more equal workplace will result in increased organisational performance, improved national productivity, and a rise in economic growth. 

To me, gender equality is a human right. It might be difficult to achieve, but it’s always worth fighting for.

A big thank you!

We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who shared their personal journeys and perspectives with us. 

Even though each offers a unique perspective on gender equality – whether due to age, gender identity, cultural background or other personal circumstances or experiences – common themes emerge from the individual voices. In particular, the importance of having a workplace where people feel equally heard, seen and valued. And also an environment that promotes fairness, dignity, respect, empathy and vulnerability. 

As always, there is more that unites us than divides us.

You can read more perspectives from our people and customers in our first instalment of what a gender equal workplace means to us here. You can also read more about how we are actively supporting diversity at Xero, and how we are working continuously to create an inclusive work environment

This article was co-authored by our joint Heads of Diversity & Inclusion, Bindy Edelman and Jane Nosworthy.

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