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Celeste Barber On Equality And What Women Want

"Women want to see themselves"

Women want to see themselves. The one thing I have learnt from the women who follow me is that women are looking for someone that’s like them; someone who can inspire them.”

So declared Instagram superstar Celeste Barber in a far-reaching panel discussion on gender equality with marie claire editor Nicky Briger at the mega-watt Salesforce World Tour Sydney on Wednesday.

The actor and comedian shared the stage with Dig Howitt, CEO and President of Cochlear Limited and Hannah Ross, Chief Customer and Financial Services Officer at David Jones & Country Road Group, to discuss the findings of a far-reaching survey into how women’s attitudes to work have changed over the years.

marie claire has joined forces with cloud-computing software company Salesforce to survey more than 1,500 Australian women and the first round of results was unveiled this week at the Salesforce World Tour event.

marie claire editor Nicky Briger with Celeste Barber, Dig Howitt and Hannah Ross

Initial findings include:

  • 54% of women said they are more likely now than they were five years ago to speak out against harassment
  • 56% of women say the one thing that would make them happier at work is a higher salary
  • 78% are satisfied in their current jobs, while 83% are confident about their chosen career path
  • Entrepreneurial efforts are on the rise with 28% of women having either started their own business or interested in doing so. 

“The overarching conclusions from the survey is that women are happier and more confident at work than ever before,’’ Nicky Briger said at the event. “We are also more empowered than ever with 54% of women saying they are more likely to call out harassment at work than five years ago.’’

The panel also urged men and women to take action where they could to improve the workplace for everyone.  As a leader in the STEM male Champions of Change, Dig is devoted to ensuring his workplace is attractive to all members of the workforce.

“The key thing is to educate yourself,’’ he said. “Find out what’s really going on and then share it with everyone you can. We had some major findings from our talks about everyday sexism and we wanted to get that out there to as many people as possible. There are plenty of things that I just didn’t know that women experience. Even really subtle things.

Everyone should call out sexism when you see it. Sure, someone might be embarrassed, but it will be for the greater good.”

Ross was particularly passionate about tackling the gender pay gap. Speaking on the subject of the pay disparity, Ross said: “We have not even scratched the surface of the gender pay gap and I think it needs urgent addressing.’’

When asked about the best piece of advice given or received, Ross said: “Don’t be too hard on yourself. If you didn’t finish the work you were supposed to do today, then do it tomorrow. If you miss seeing your kids today you’ll see them tomorrow. We have to stop putting this pressure on ourselves.”

Barber said: “Just get on with. We talk so much about what needs to happen. I’m really looking forward to the time when gender isn’t an issue, when there is an all-female comedy bill and it’s not just to raise money for breast cancer. It’s just the norm.” 

Dig said for equality to work in the workplace, the same principles need to apply everywhere in your life. “You can’t believe in equality at work and then go home and not pull your weight,’’ he said. “If you expect and demand equality at work then you should do the same at home.’’

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