‘Blind shortlisting’ highlights extent of unconscious bias against women in business: Carnival Australia chairman



Updated

September 07, 2018 10:07:11

One of corporate Australia’s most-respected chief executives has said there is now “hard evidence” of unconscious bias at work at some of the country’s science, technology, engineering and maths-based organisations.

Ann Sherry, the executive chairman of cruise ship company Carnival Australia, told a crowd of 1,300 business leaders that some companies in this area had achieved a five-fold increase in women being short-listed for jobs by using a practice known as “blind shortlisting”.

“Some of the STEM [science, technology, engineering and maths] organisations are introducing blind shortlisting to their recruitment processes,” she said.

“By removing the name and gender from job applications, the ratio of men to women being short-listed has jumped from one woman in 10 to fifty-fifty.”

Ms Sherry said it demonstrated the pervasiveness of unconscious bias against women in the recruitment process.

“[It] gave them hard evidence of what we’ve always been aware of ā€” the unconscious bias at work when hiring, creating a cycle of men recruiting men who look like them,” she said.

According to the office of the chief scientist, women make up just 16 per cent of Australians qualified in STEM and are paid less than their male colleagues.

Using figures from the 2011 Census of Population and Housing, the report found that 32 per cent of men hit the highest income bracket ($104,000) in STEM industries compared to only 12 per cent of women.

Sherry credits inclusive approach to profit turnaround

Ann Sherry delivered the keynote address at the Chief Executive Women annual dinner.

She is considered one of the most successful executives in the country after a stunning turnaround in the fortunes of the Australian arm of US-based cruise ship operator Carnival.

When Ms Sherry was tapped in 2007 to take over from Gavin Smith, Carnival Australia was steeped in crisis, struggling to recover from a scandal involving the onboard death of Dianne Brimble.

Shortly after her arrival at the company came a swine flu outbreak, when passengers were quarantined on the ship to avoid spreading infection.

Some 1.34 million Australians took a cruise last year, which is five times more than the 250,000 who were doing so when Ms Sherry joined the company 11 years ago.

A fierce champion of women in corporate Australia, Ms Sherry told last night’s gathering that inclusion ought to be a core value of every organisation.

“Being inclusive means offering people the same opportunities, regardless of gender or culture,” she said.

The former Westpac executive credited her inclusive leadership approach to Carnival’s turnaround.

Bank’s ‘boozy boys’ culture’ included sex toys at Christmas

It sits in stark contrast to her years at the bank when, she remarked, “in the dealing room women were confronted by a boozy, boys’ culture where they were given toys ā€” sex toys ā€” at Christmas.”

“Supposedly this was a joke but really it was about humiliation. The behaviour of men in the dealing room was a metaphor for all that was wrong with corporate culture.”

She said her personal work with the Male Champions of Change in STEM had made a real difference.

Ms Sherry organised for the men to listen to the women in their organisations as they revealed their struggles with sexism and discrimination while climbing their way to the top tiers of management.

“Our STEM champions had to confront the facts,” she said.

“Many of the young women they had been expecting to be their future had zero commitment to the organisation because of the way they were being treated.

“The women were very clear that things had to change. It was a big ‘oh shit’ moment for all.”

The theme of the address was “change”. She said that by listening and learning about the experiences of women, men were changing their attitudes.

There is clear momentum for change among ASX 200 boards.

Figures released today by the Australian Institute of Company Directors show that the boards of Australia’s largest businesses are getting closer to achieving their target of 30 per cent female representation by the end of 2018.

As at the end of August 2018, women accounted for 28.5 per cent of ASX 200 board positions. This is up from just 20.6 per cent at the same time in 2015.

Topics:

women,

management,

corporate-governance,

leadership,

australia

First posted

September 07, 2018 09:51:04



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *