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    Diversity is a mixture unto itself

    Deborah Singerman

    Would you believe it? Just as Lendlease Group Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director Steve McCann talks about the need to have a flexibility action plan like a safety action plan, research is published in Harvard Business Review that finds that women in their 30s more often leave for a job that pays more, or because their work is not meaningful enough than to spend more time with their family. In fact, for similar reasons that men do, and this during some of the main years of the struggle for that elusive career/family balance.

    Nothing is straightforward. Sydney Morning Herald economics writer Jessica Irvine reported on University of New South Wales and Texas Tech University findings that when men and women were multi-tasking housework, especially laundry, and childcare, men were more productive in the former, women in the latter possibly wanting to keep the baby happier. “What this — admittedly small — study does make clear is that the stereotypes of the male domestic bumbler and the female domestic goddess are just that,” she concludes.

    Who knows, this might lead to housework being measured by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which, according to journalist/commentator Annabel Crabb, has not happened for a decade or so.
    Meanwhile, a Bain and Company survey has revealed that even where companies allow flexible working for men, their peers and management are less supportive of those acting on this. Construction, engineering, architecture and environmental consulting firm, GHD, has reportedly introduced gender diversity targets and is scrutinising its recruitment and promotion rates after realising they are so gender differentiated. 

    The Australian Institute of Architects (AIA)’s new Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Cunich, worked for the Property Council of Australia, whose Victorian Division established the leadership-focused Women and Diversity Committee. And in another form of leadership a business tradie, Joanna Tsakiridis, made it to the news as one of just 22 female glaziers in Australia. 

    There is interest out there among the general business community in women in construction. When online publication Dynamic Business ran a feature that specifically mentioned equipment supplier Hilti’s 20 per cent women in the 320-strong Australian staff and a 40 per cent female executive team, it generated “hundreds of views” and LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook shares according to Hilti’s follow-up. 

    Catering (or not) for disabled people was raised during a Parlour-organised place making discussion last year about women shaping our spaces, places and policies. This arose from the eye-openingly difficult experience of getting around a city with a pram. Another discussion on Women Transforming the City is on April 28 during the AIA’s national conference in Adelaide. In similar vein, a special edition of Australian Planner for March 2017 is focusing on Women and Planning; co-edited by Place Partners' Director Kylie Legge and Caryl Bosman of Griffith University; abstracts and intention to submit by 30 April.

    Lendlease’s McCann was speaking at the Delivering the Diversity Dividend panel at the recent Green Cities conference. He also mentioned the LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex communities who Lendlease recognises. At the same panel, Susan Moylan-Coombs Founder and Director of First Australian company the Gaimaragal Group, spoke of diversity and inclusiveness. Her quote in the program is worth repeating: “By embracing differences we can value the skills and knowledge that each of us brings for the greater good – whether that’s constructing a building or running a country.”

    Deborah Singerman runs her own writing, editing, proofing and project managing consultancy specialising in the urban built environment and community. @deborahsingerma

     

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