For the past 25 years, marie claire has championed women and encouraged them to move fearlessly forward in the world. While there is still much work to do until we achieve true gender equality, there are game-changing individuals and companies who are ousting out-dated ideas and changing the status quo within their respective industries.
To celebrate these achievements, marie claire, in partnership with Bumble and supported by the Estée Lauder Companies, created the Glass Ceiling Awards, a night to recognise the huge efforts made by Australian individuals and businesses to break the mould.
Without further adieu, we are thrilled to introduce this year's Glass Ceiling Award winners, all of whom have smashed through boundaries to create lasting change for a better future.
Pay Equity Award - A company who has achieved gender pay equity within its ranks
Salesforce, Edweena Stratton and Irina Feldman
Software giant Salesforce was one of the first companies to take a public stance on pay equality. They are committed to creating a world where everyone has equal rights, equal access to education, equal opportunities to succeed and equal pay for equal work. And they’re actually practising what they preach.
Salesforce, which employs over 4000 people in Australia, has invested $9 million to ensure equal pay for equal work across its ranks. Between 2017 and 2018, the company achieved a 45% decrease in employees who required wage adjustments. They are also members of the Employers for Pay Equity coalition, a signatory of the Paradigm for Parity pledge and have partnered with Lean In, a non-profit organisation dedicated to empowering all women to achieve their ambitions.
The company’s CEO and chairman Marc Benioff is committed to the cause, saying, “We’re going to have to do this continuously. This is a constant cadence.”
Majority Rules Award - A business where women make up the majority on the board or leadership team
The Iconic, Anna Lee and Erica Berchtold
Six of The Iconic’s eight C-Suite executives are female, making it proportionally one of the most female-friendly senior leadership groups in Australia. Led by CEO Erica Berchtold, the team also includes chief technology officer Zoe Ghani, chief operating officer Anna Lee, chief category management officer Mareile Osthus, chief financial officer Mia Barry, and chief people and culture officer Nicolle Strauss.
Berchtold certainly understands the unique demands of working mothers – having arrived at her new position earlier this year five-months pregnant with her third child. But she has stressed her team is more than capable of `holding the fort’ during her upcoming maternity leave in June.
The executive group remains focused on continuing positive growth after the online-only fashion retailer posted a strong 2018 — achieving record traffic and reporting a 35 per cent increase in sales.
“At The Iconic, we’re fortunate to work in an environment that truly supports gender equality and allows people to grow and develop their careers,” said Lee.
Family-Friendly Award - A business dedicated to making the daily work/life/family juggle easier with flexible working hours or generous parental leave policies
AECOM, Lisa Cronk and Michael Jones
Workplace flexibility is the way of the future, and engineering firm AECOM is leading the way. The company has formally abolished start and finish times as a part of their FlexWorks initiative, empowering employees to choose their hours, work from home and work to their own schedule. Team members also have access to part-time work, job sharing and the ability to purchase additional leave.
“Our approach to flexible work recognises the realities of the 21st-century workplace, where ‘hours at a desk’ aren’t the true indicator of value or contribution,” says the company’s mission statement.
AECOM also gives paid parental leave to both primary and secondary carers and offers support with finding childcare.
Social Conscience Award - A woman who’s paying it forward and making a difference to the world
Megan Etheridge OAM, Dress for Success
Through her background as a school teacher, TAFE teacher and workers’ advocate, Megan Etheridge OAM is passionate about making a contribution to the community that is both practical and meaningful. It was in this spirit that Etheridge initiated a meeting of likeminded women in Sydney, who together in 2008, actively set about establishing a service that has since become Dress for Success Sydney, of which Etheridge is the founder.
Dress for Success Sydney is an incorporated, not-for-profit organisation run by volunteers, with the mission to support women experiencing difficulties in achieving self-sufficiency and financial independence. Through offering appropriate clothing and styling advice for women at pivotal moments of their lives, and providing training as well as building support systems, Dress For Success has become a safe haven for women needing a boost in confidence.
Etheridge describes herself as a passionate advocate for gender equality and womens’ rights and says she gains “great satisfaction in working alongside similarly committed women, who also want to work towards making a real difference”.
The Future Shaper Award - Next-gen thought-leaders revolutionising our future
Macinley Butson, Inventor
Eighteen-year-old Macinley Butson has been inventing things with the aim “to help as many people as possible” since she was in Year 6. The Wollongong teen has invented everything from a “spoonge”— “a cross between a syringe and spoon, that delivers just the right amount of medicine”— to a device that keeps garden snails away from plants, to a solar-power system that filters dirty water to make it potable. However, it was after a dinner table discussion with her father, who works in the field of radiation therapy, that Butson developed her game-changing “SMART Armour” technology.
The device is for breast-cancer patients undergoing treatment and shields the breast that is not being treated from excess radiation. Considering “electron contamination” is a common side effect that increases the risk of developing another secondary cancer later in life, and with breast cancer affecting one in eight women, it’s easy to see how Butson’s invention can go on to save millions of lives in the future. “My thought was ‘if not me, then who, and if not now, then when?’” explains Butson. “I created SMART Armour to help save and improve people’s lives and it is my hope that soon it will be able to do just that,” she says of her invention.
Over the past five years, Butson has become a role model for young Australians, especially young women who hope to break into the male-dominated fields of science and engineering. And all this before her 19th birthday.
Jean Hinchliffe, Teenage activist
Sydney school student Jean Hinchliffe isn’t your average 15-year-old. Last year she organised the School Strike 4 Climate, where Aussie kids walked out of school to protest the government’s inaction on climate change. She wore “Stop Adani” statement earrings to the protest and chanted, “We are students hear us roar, we want solar, we want more.”
“I see climate change as such an important issue, as do most young people, so I felt almost as if it was my responsibility when I heard about it [the strike] overseas,” says Hinchliffe of organising a local version of the protest. “I see our politicians doing nothing; I need to take action and I need to make change.”
The #ClimateStrike was not Hinchliffe’s first activist statement. She’s passionate about social, political and environmental issues, and campaigned for the Yes vote on same-sex marriage in 2017.
“I got involved with the ‘Yes’ campaign, mainly calling people who would likely vote ‘yes’ and getting them to guarantee that they would actually vote,” she says. “From there I’ve done a lot of activism. For younger people, it’s a lot easier than they expect, but many feel like [activism] is just for adults.”
Unsurprisingly, Hinchliffe has been asked to speak at this year’s TEDx event in Sydney. When she’s not saving the world, she works as a professional actress and has recently wrapped her first television series. If Hinchliffe is our future, we’re in safe hands.
Mentor Award - A powerhouse woman who has supported and championed other women in her industry
Vicki Condon, Raise founder & CEO
Mentoring is at the heart of Raise, a charity that provides support to young people in high schools and communities. Founder and CEO Vicki Condon has always been passionate about championing others, and has surrounded herself with a team of equally inspiring volunteers and professionals to assist her in doing so.
Founding Raise was part of Condon’s lifelong ambition to make a difference in the lives of struggling youth, but it was the suicide of a friend’s 14-year-old son that ignited her drive to get the charity off the ground. Condon is guided by the proverb that “it takes a village to raise a child”, and this is at the core of Raise. The charity is committed to mentoring and proving support to vulnerable youth in crisis. Whether they’re battling depression, facing issues at school, struggling with substance abuse or going through teenage pregnancies, no youth is turned away by Raise.
“Only 32 per cent of our students in high schools will go and talk to their school counsellor – it’s not OK”, she says. “But I think we can do something about that, and I think the key is about our villages and our people coming to help.”
Every year, over 1000 kids participate in Raise programmes. Its success is reflected in the fact that, “79 per cent of our mentees said they’d now ask an adult for help, because of having had a mentor,” she says.
Condon’s commitment to providing mentoring services has profoundly impacted the lives of countless youth and their families, and will no doubt continue to have positive affects in our communities.
“Why would you not go and build a village around the young people you know, to make sure you’re supporting them?” she says.
Bumble Making Moves – Celebrating a trailblazing woman who is inspiring change
Christina Chun, 1Scope
Christina is the founder of social enterprise 1Scope, which has raised $1 million in its first year to give 15,000 students skill-building opportunities in the form of workshops, conferences, work experience and scholarships. Christina has devoted her life to improving Australia’s education system and helping disadvantaged youth get ahead.
The Ceiling Smasher Award - Celebrating an iconic woman who has paved the way for other women
Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister
In 2010, Julia Gillard smashed the toughest glass ceiling of all – becoming Australia’s first female Prime Minister. After growing up in Adelaide, Gillard graduated with Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Melbourne in the ’80s. She went on to become a partner at the prestigious law firm Slater & Gordon, before making her way into federal politics and working her way up the ranks.
During her three years in the top job as PM, Gillard faced relentless sexism and misogyny in parliament, in the media and on the streets. In an impassioned speech on October 9, 2012, she called out the behaviour in parliament and infamously took down Tony Abbott, the leader of the opposition at the time and a man who has been quoted as saying, “Abortion is the easy way out”, and, “What the housewives of Australia need to understand while they do the ironing ... ” Abbott also stood next to signs describing Gillard as a “man’s bitch” and another that said, “ditch the witch”.
Gillard did not hold back in addressing Abbott’s chauvinism. “I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man,” she said. “If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia … he needs a mirror.”
As our first female PM, Gillard paved the way for other women in leadership positions – and it was not an easy path to trudge. In her autobiography, she revealed how she pushed through the gendered criticism for the sake of the greater good. “I hope this book will start a real conversation, because it’s a discussion we need to have – about the way gender continues to play out in Australian life and around the world,” she said.
When she left politics, Gillard, who is currently Chairwoman of Beyond Blue, said she was “optimistic” that things would be easier for the next female leader. “And I would say to [any woman] thinking of going into politics, ‘If you know why you want to do it, if you have a sense of purpose, then go for it.’”
Because of Gillard, we can.
marie claire congratulates all of this year's winners on their achievements as well as the deserving finalists on their nominations.