International Women's Day 2019: A chance to stop and think

By Glenn Gibson, head of third party distribution and direct mortgages

 

In Australia, the 2019 theme for International Woman’s Day is ‘More Powerful Together’. It’s a chance to stop and think about the important role we all play in progressing gender equality.

In my career, it’s the workplaces where employees have celebrated each other’s differences and leaned on each other’s strengths that have achieved the most.

That’s why I believe being ‘more powerful together’ shouldn’t be something we only think about on one day of the year. Standing in unison on gender equality is something we should all actively do every day.

Why? Because breaking down stereotypes and gendered roles fosters diversity of experience and opinion. This enables us to be better innovators and collaborators, which leads to more choice, better value and better outcomes for our customers.

Gender equality also helps us strengthen our own skills and experience.

During my career I’ve worked with many women who’ve complemented my own skill sets. These women have taught me:

  • Focusing on customer relationships rather than sales delivers more fruitful outcomes;
  • How to maintain a positive mindset, even when the darkest cloud is looming;
  • Not to be afraid to show your emotions; after all, our customers want to know we’re everyday people just like them; and
  • To let your passion for your work show.

In my personal life, I’m married to a remarkable woman who’s helped shape who I am as a business person today. And we’re certainly not the stereotypical married couple. For example, I took time out from my career at one point so my wife could focus on growing her business. It was an invaluable experience that helped me understand some of the challenges she and countless other women face juggling work and family life. As a father I like to think our approach has also helped shape how our children navigate their career and personal lives.

At ING, stereotypes are also not something we take into consideration. We know if we focus on diversity and inclusion, our business will be stronger because it better reflects our customers and society at large.

Take our executive committee, which comprises eight people in total. Three are women and five nationalities are represented. My experience is that this type of diversity leads to a wider variety of ideas and more comprehensive discussion and debate, which again leads to better outcomes for our customers.

In the mortgage broking space we have seen the value increased diversity has brought to the industry.  It’s no coincidence that the dramatic increase in the number of Australians using mortgage brokers over the past 10 years happened at the same time that we saw the growth in women working in and running businesses in our industry.

As mortgage brokers, an inclusive workforce that reflects the makeup and needs of your customers is vital to building a successful business and should be one of the biggest considerations you make when recruiting.

If I can leave you with three actions, they would be:

  1. Recruit for diversity, don’t just recruit people who are like you or who you like.
  2. Create opportunities for all your team members to contribute and listen to them all, not just the loud ones.
  3. Never forget half the population are women, therefore half the people who could be turning to you are women, so invest the time to understand their specific needs and goals.

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