Despite the various steps taken by the Australian government and organisations to ensure greater equality in the workplace for women, it’s yet to become a reality.
ABS figures show that men are earning, on average, more than women in the workplace – $298.20 more, to be exact. Statistics from the WGEA (Workplace Gender Equality Agency) further reiterates this gap, revealing that only 12 percent of chair and 17.3 percent of CEO positions are held by women.
Considering that the sex discrimination act came into effect in 1984, these are very poor statistics – as is the fact that the amount of senior business roles occupied by women ten years ago was the same as it is today at 22 percent.
The glass ceiling, which author Ann Morrison describes as something ‘…so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women from moving up the corporate hierarchy,’ (Breaking the Glass Ceiling) is still very much there.
Yet there are women who have transcended the patriarchal system and have become some of the most powerful business people in Australia.
Here’s a look at the top five business women in Australia:
1. Gina Rinehart
Topping the list is Gina Rinehart. Mining heiress and Chairman of Hancock Prospecting Group and with an estimated net worth of $16bn, she is the richest person in Australia.
Her wealth was initially accumulated through her father, Lang Hancock, who discovered the world’s largest iron ore deposit and subsequently became one of the richest men in Australia.
However, she has proven to be far more than a passive heiress, learning the mining business from the ground up. Over 20 years she transformed the firm into ‘Australia’s largest and most successful private company group through hard work, great effort, long hours and dedication, with the assistance of only a very small executive team,’ according to Rinehart’s spokesperson Jay Newby.
She took the reins of the Roy Hill iron ore tenements in Western Australia’s Pilbara region 22 years ago, and will begin a $10bn iron operation to export to Asia by the end of the year.
Rinehart has previously commented on her dislike of being called an ‘heiress,’ due to her many accomplishments within the company. Alecia Simmonds of theage.com.au says that she can’t help ‘furrow [her] feminist brows when Rinehart is called an heiress while James Packer is called a billionaire.’
“I’m not ashamed of being a girl, and since I’m a girl I will do what a boy would have done had I been a boy”. – Gina Rinehart
2. Catherine Livingstone
She is a strong advocate for research and innovation, claiming that that the world is looking for solutions and technologies: ‘It is an area in which Australia could take a lead with enormous economic rewards, if we are able to make it our knowledge and technologies that are sought out.’ She claims in an interview for CSIRO.
Since 2009 she has been the chair of Telstra, turning the company around with CEO David Thodey, contributing to the share price of the company more than doubling during the last few years.
Livingstone is highly respected in the sector, described by Macquarie Group chairman David Clarke in The Weekend Australian as ‘a very good contributor, absolutely diligent in doing her work’ and ‘..when she’s got something to say, she says it. She doesn’t talk for the sake of it. So people really listen to what she’s saying.’
Prior to Telstra she gained her impressive reputation as Chief Executive of bionic ear icon Cochlear, and was instrumental in getting the company onto the ASX 19 years ago. In 2012 she was also deemed as the second most powerful director in Australia by site Crikey.
3. Alison Watkins
Since becoming chief executive of Coca-Cola Amatil, Alison Watkins has made many changes which have led to an improvement in the company’s declining profits. In particular she has haggled with US Coca-Cola to procure a $600m funding deal and has reshuffled senior management.
She was previously the CEO and Managing Director of GrainCorp Ltd, Australia’s largest agribusiness and a top ASX 100 company.
Speaking of her issues with self-confidence in the Financial Review, she describes how she came to land the GrainCorp job:
“I got some feedback..that showed my peers thought I had strong leadership attributes…but I rated myself much less favourably, which I took as a good thing until the excellent coach I had pointed out that it meant I was underestimating my ability to make a difference. I realised I was being undemanding in a way that meant I was not setting myself and my teams up for success, and that wasn’t good for anyone“.
Watkins took her new outlook into the interview to become CEO of GrainCorp and followed up with a letter to the Chairman outlining her key skills and credentials. Her forthrightness won her the job.
She is now a champion of women who are trying to work their way up the line in their business and feels that all women, who are in a position to do so, should enable their female co-workers.
“It’s the way you make a difference to women in your workplace; the risks you take to create opportunities for them and help them succeed, including in line roles…I will contribute to changing the perceptions of what a female leader is and to accelerating the day that will come when the term ‘female CEO’ doesn’t evoke any particular perceptions at all“.
4. Katie Page
Page joined Harvey Norman in 1983 as a young assistant to the boss. She slowly worked her way up the ranks until she was made CEO in 1999, making her one of the longest serving chief executives of an Australian-listed company.
She runs the 200+ store retail business with a turnover of more than $2.6bn a year (& franchise operations of $4.6bn) alongside her husband Gerry Harvey, who co-founded the company in 1982 with Ian Norman.
“There is no other consistent female [chief executive] out there and it just happens to be we are a husband and wife team“, she told The Australian. “Gerry is the executive chairman. The chairman is there to make sure that the big picture is right. They are there for the big decisions. As chief executive, I am running the business“.
Page is unsentimental about her husband’s higher profile – she knows the company works because they are a team, “The board sets the strategy and I deliver it as chief executive. We have skill sets as a couple that probably make us stronger as a company compared with others“.
Page has also dedicated herself to championing women in horse racing through Magic Millions, and providing a $500,000 incentive for women thoroughbred owners.
5. Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz
Since arriving at the business, with a market cap of $7bn and a top 50 ranking of ASX-listed companies, she has focused on investment. She spent $1bn buying new assets in order to restore the group’s property portfolio, but also sold off property worth $1bn.
The strategy Lloyd-Hurwitz adopted has made the most of the changing property market since the financial crash.
In 2014 she was crowned Telstra NSW Business Woman of the Year. She told The Saturday Telegraph: “Along the way, I’ve had some important mentors who have invested in me, taken a risk, held up the mirror for me and guided me. In all business relationships, I strive to listen, to create mutually beneficial outcomes and to communicate often and with clarity“.
“A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do. A woman must do what he can’t”. – Rhonda Hansome
There is still a long way to go for Australian businesswomen, but these five female trailblazers show that it is possible to not only succeed, but triumph, in business and make more important fractures in that tough glass ceiling.
You Are The Problem With Your Business
A great way to screw up your company is to get into the habit of blaming your suppliers, the market, your staff or your product for your failures.
I recently heard a story of a business that had set up a website. They sold various products and services focusing on helping people with psychological issues. The business owner was smart. The product solved a problem.
Unfortunately, the company was making almost no money. They’d hired someone to help them with their digital marketing and it wasn’t working.
Plenty of traffic was coming to the site, users were having a look around and then not buying a single thing. Who’s fault was this?
Well, according to the business owner it was the person running their digital marketing. As a result, they wasted approximately eight months marketing a website that couldn’t make any sales. The reason the business was failing according to the owner was because of the keywords that were being targeted in the marketing campaign. This is a horrible excuse.
The reason your business fails is because you’re blaming someone other than yourself. It’s the quickest way to bankruptcy. Don’t do that.
Your company is a reflection of you.
It took me a long time to figure out that a company is a reflection of its founder.
One of the businesses I had, had a toxic culture and a bunch of people that were rude to customers, arrogant and not nice people. That was a reflection of exactly who I was at the time.
The company was reflecting the flaws of my own life and what I refused to admit.
In the case of the business owner above, what was obvious is that they were good at telling lies to themselves. It was easy not to change as a business owner and insist that the change needed was nothing to do with their vision.
The issue of their company was not the digital marketing strategy but their lack of understanding around what their customer wanted.
The thought that their products were too complicated, not solving a real problem or priced incorrectly was an admission of guilt they wanted no part in. Hence the eventual demise of their company.
Take responsibility and it will change.
When you own the business, everything is your fault.
You have the power to solve any problem you choose. It starts with you being brave enough to admit that there’s a problem, and then secondly, being bold enough to insist it’s your fault and that you can change it.
The problems in your business can all be solved. That’s what it took me a very long time to understand. When I changed as a person and faced up to my hidden battle with mental illness that I didn’t want to talk about, the odds turned in my favor.
Had I have not taken responsibility for my mental illness, I would have never become a leader in a business or started another side hustle. I would have been crippled by the big, bad world that I thought I could control.
Control came from responsibility, and responsibility solved the major problem in my business: me.
Change is a must.
Not with your digital marketing strategy.
Not with hiring new people.
Not with developing a new product.
“Changing yourself is the *must* because YOU attract the problems and the solutions into your business”
You can’t find the solutions or stop the never-ending problems until you stop the cause of it all: you. You’re the problem with your business. The good news is that it’s entirely within your control to fix.
Not the business.
The Different Ways of Measuring the Success of Your Start-Up
You’ve probably heard people use the term “unicorn” in a business context. This means a privately held start-up whose value has grown to at least one billion American dollars. Think Airbnb, Uber, and so forth. There is no doubt that some start-ups have been major financial successes. And many smaller-scale start-ups are doing great as well, working hard and turning a steady profit. But that begs the question of whether finances are the only way to measure the success of a start-up. As it turns out, they might not be. At least, not always and not on their own.
How to Evaluate Success
As anyone who’s been involved with start-ups knows, you need a fair amount of flexibility to do well in this environment. Take the division of labour for example – rather than strict roles, you’ll often see everyone do a bit of everything. The same principle extends to measuring success. It can be vague and mean different things to different people, and it can change over time.
But amongst all that vagueness, one thing has become clear. Predicting the success of a start-up is very difficult for external observers. As a matter of fact, it’s often impossible. Therefore, in order to evaluate how successful a start-up has truly been, we need to know the goals of its founder(s).
“Success means we go to sleep at night knowing that our talents and abilities were used in a way that served others.” – Marianne Williamson
When people think about business, it’s common to boil matters down to the finances. And it certainly is possible to use numbers to measure and predict the performance of a start-up business. Net worth, gross margin, customer acquisition cost – these can all be indicators of success. But, a start-up can post impressive numbers for a while, perhaps even attract large investors, and still shut down in the end. So does this make it a failure?
The answer to this depends. If the founders wanted to start a lasting business, then yes, they failed to meet their goal. However, that isn’t always the case. If they were looking for a short-term solution and came out with more money than they had coming in, a closed-down start-up needn’t be unsuccessful. It can actually be the opposite of that.
So, looking at the figures isn’t enough, and there are different perspectives to consider. When they start planning their business venture, start-up founders may not have any particular numbers in mind when it comes to profit. Instead, they can judge their success according to some of the following criteria.
1. Happy Customers and Solving Problems
The story of a start-up often begins with a problem. The desire to help people overcome a specific issue can be the spark which ignites the creation of an entire business. And in the end, that may be all that matters to the founders.
This is closely connected to the happiness of the customers. If the resulting product or service has made people happy by helping them solve a problem, that is all that may be required for a start-up to be a success. Now, no business wants unsatisfied customers. But in cases like this, happy customers aren’t the way toward the ultimate goal – they are that goal.
In other words, some start-up founders don’t just use financial reports to measure how much they’ve achieved. To them, the one metric which stands above all others is the quantity of positive feedback they’ve received. The main area of focus is customers who use the start-up’s products or services to solve a problem they were having.
Every start-up founder likes doing well in terms of revenue. But for some of these entrepreneurs, the profit is merely a side effect of what they actually set out to do – impact the world in a positive manner. You can see an example of this line of thought with Elon Musk. He said that back in college, he had wanted to be a part of things that could end up changing the world. The continuation of this philosophy is evident in his electric cars (which aim to reduce pollution) and the SpaceX program (which strives to break down some of the barriers of space exploration).
In both cases, the furthering of mankind is the ultimate goal. Many other start-up founders feel the same, even if they have smaller goals in mind. To these people, there is no greater proof of success than if their company has had a positive impact on society or even a small segment of it. In their view, to make a difference is to succeed.
“The only limit to your impact is your imagination and commitment.” – Tony Robbins
For some, starting up their own business is less about getting rich and more about gaining the freedom to conduct their business the way they want to. In this case, financial success is just a means to an end. The endgame is to be your own boss.
The fact is, some people don’t do well when they’re constantly receiving orders. They are simply hardwired to be free thinkers and they require an environment that allows them to do things in their own way.
Being in a position where you hold all the cards can be exhilarating. The knowledge that your decisions are final is very empowering, and many strive for such freedom. If a start-up can allow such people to go from being a regular employee to being in charge of making all the decisions, then it has already achieved all the success that it needs to.
4. Time for Friends and Family
As many people know all too well, a job can easily turn into the focal point of your daily life. Instead of being a way to support your lifestyle, your work dominates your time. And when that happens, the time you have to dedicate to your loved ones becomes scarce. Combating this is precisely what some have in mind when they decide to take the leap and start their own business.
Now, running your own company is no mean feat and it will require a lot of effort. But the beginning is the most time-consuming part of the process. Later on, it can be possible to create a system which leaves you with a lot more time on your hands. You can spend this time with your significant other, your children, or your friends. A start-up which gives you this opportunity is perhaps the greatest success of all.
A start-up is an extension of its founders and so are that company’s goals. Some entrepreneurs are in it for the profit, but not all of them. In the end, there is no single way to measure the success of a start-up. It all comes down to the specific aims of those who established it. But if the founders can end their day on a happy note, then the venture is a success even if it doesn’t fit some standard definition of the term.
The Problem Is Not Your Website Or Your Product.
I spend a lot of my time talking to business owners. They focus on their product, their marketing channels and trying to make more profit.
I met one such business owner who was in the plastic surgery business. Their product (boob jobs and nose jobs) was not working. Their website sucked and people clicked off as soon as they visited it.
People would call their office, get put on hold, listen to the on hold message and hang up.
This business didn’t seem all that special. I’ve talked to many businesses and didn’t think for a microsecond that a plastic surgery clinic could ever teach me anything valuable.
I’ve been to Hollywood on holidays and the issues of body image are all too apparent to me. Anyway, this post is not about body image.
I ended up losing this business as a customer — not that I would ever have sold anything to them if it were up to me. I sat down one afternoon and thought about why we no longer did business with them.
That’s when I realized it’s not about your product or your website. All the issues with this plastic surgery clinic and a lot of other businesses I’ve dealt with stem from one thing. Let me explain in more detail.
Your Google Reviews say you’re an piece of work.
I looked up their Google Reviews and their customers said they were assholes.
They spoke down to clients, they didn’t deliver their clients what they wanted, they argued with their staff in front of customers and they treated people like they were nothing more than a dollar sign.
All I had to do was read their Google reviews to see that the problem wasn’t their product or their website.
Your clients tell you every day that you suck.
I asked the plastic surgery what their clients said.
Many of their clients told them that their services sucked and they would prefer to go to places like Thailand where they could get a better product at a much lower price.
The business owner made the mistake of thinking it was their product that was the problem and that a new website will tell clients a different message.
That wasn’t it.
You abuse your staff and they consistently leave.
I spoke with many staff that worked for this business.
Every single one of them hated the company and were not afraid to say what they thought of the business owner.
The business owner would sit outside on a nice sunny day and look across the street at all the yachts and the people boarding them.
They’d sit there and think that every lead they got was going to take them one step closer to owning their very own yacht.
“If only I could deliver more boob jobs, maybe I could have one of those,” they thought quietly to themselves hoping that no one else could hear how ridiculous this sounded.
I can remember multiple times being on the phone to the business owner and having one of their staff burst into tears halfway through the call.
The first time it happened I didn’t think much. After the third time, I got the message. During the short time I dealt with this business, people consistently left. If you made it to the six-month mark, you were some sort of hero and would probably be given a free surgery to say thank you for your work and make you feel worse about your own body at the same time.
It was free noses and boobs in return for daily abuse.
The problem still wasn’t the website all the product.
You don’t solve real problems; you solve your own problem.
A good business solves a problem.
That problem typically affects human beings and solving it is how you make money in business. Solving problems can start out with a problem that affects you, but at some point, you’ve got to start solving that same problem for other people/businesses.
This owner of this plastic surgery clinic was only trying to solve their own problem which was making more money to buy fancy items like yachts.
Only solving your own problem is not just selfish but bad business.
Good business is solving a big problem or lots of small problems for entire strangers who you don’t know thus doing something valuable for the human race.
Solving only your problem will make you poor.
The problem still wasn’t their website or product.
Creating more problems.
Everything this business owner sold created more problems.
They’d film videos to purposely make people feel like their body wasn’t perfect.
They’d write articles suggesting that everyone needs botox to feel young.
They’d take photos of men and women who were supposed to be perfect so that young people would dream of looking like them.
Not only was their business not solving a real problem; it was also creating more problems every day that it existed.
If your business creates more problems than it solves, you’re in real trouble.You need to take a long hard look at the business and become obsessed with doing everything you can to change it — and do so damn fast to limit the whirlwind of problems you’re creating behind you.
The heart of the problem.
It’s the business owner.
The business I mentioned will fail. That part is certain. The problem with the business is not the website or the product.
The problem is the business has no heart because the business owner has no heart.
You cannot focus on your own selfish desires, create really bad problems in the world, treat other human beings like garbage and expect to go buy a yacht and live happily ever after. It just doesn’t happen like that.
Whether you are a plastic surgery clinic like the one I described or a solo entrepreneur, the problem with your business is you.
Fix the problem of YOU. You can’t get away with being horrible forever.
Being horrible is bad business.
Being respectful, kind and valuable is the final answer to the problem with your business.
18 Must Read Business Books for Emerging Entrepreneurs and Startups
Reading is both relaxation and training for the mind. Who reads, dives into another world. Learning, entertaining and breaking out of everyday life for a short moment. One could go even so far as to say reading is the second most beautiful thing in the world! Whether it is non-fiction or a novel of all the world’s man has created, the book is the most powerful tool. That is also, why we wanted to find out which business book you should undertake in the new year. (more…)
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