Q+A Panel: In response to Dame Jenny Shipley
HOSTED BY SUSAN WOOD
In response to DAME JENNY SHIPLEY interview
Welcome back to the panel, and Corin has joined us at the end. Kate, let me ask you the question that I asked Jenny Shipley. What do you think Kate Sheppard would be saying 120 years on?
KATE SUTTON - Former
Labour Party board member
I think Kate Sheppard would be looking at the stats. So it’s not just a third of Parliament and 14 per cent of corporate sector boards. It’s women earning $4 less than men on average. Women being the majority of underpaid and minimum-wage workers and 52 per cent of the population. I think she’d probably say, ‘Right. Is it that women don’t want these jobs?’ Well, that’s not the truth. Or is it that women aren’t good enough to do these jobs? Well, that’s certainly not the truth. So I’m not the kind of person that just keeps trying to do something and it’s not working and then keeps doing the same thing. I’m the kind of person who says, ‘Well, how can we do this differently?’ So, Dame Jenny Shipley, she outlined a few key things that can be done. So organisations like her own and like Michael’s and those champions. But, I mean, I think in terms of my perspective from a political party, it’s all about affirmative action, and that’s actually what the things that you’re talking about are - champions, training and actually identifying, spotting and putting in those spots.
SUSAN So you’d go for quotas, wouldn’t you?
KATE You’d just actually have to look at the evidence. There’s tons and tons and tons and tons of evidence that says you can say nice things, you can have a whole lot of people cutting ribbons and starting up 25 per cent organisations.
So what was wrong with the man ban? Why did they back away from that so quickly?
KATE I think, um, it wasn’t explained very well. I mean, let’s be fair. This was up to the Labour Party members to debate in November. This was always up for debate.
SUSAN It was never debated.
KATE Well, it could have lost; it could have won. For me, personally, my great disappointment was the fact that it wasn’t debated.
KATE So I think that the party’s actually learned a lesson about that. Yep, these things might not be popular. Certainly, let’s make sure that everybody sings from the same song sheet, and also let’s let party members debate it. Because I met party members who were saying, ‘Look, Kate, I don’t really support the idea, but I wanted to debate it. I wanted to hear the ideas. And, actually, I could have come around to it.’ There’s still discussion about gender reforms on the November agenda, and all the Labour Party leadership contenders have said-
SUSAN Got to be careful with quotas, though, I think, because you could end up with women for the sake of it, as Jenny said, ‘for skirts.’ And that’s in none of our interests, I don’t think.
MICHAEL BARNETT - CEO, Auckland Chamber of
No, so I think some of the things that I’ll quickly pick up on. I think Dame Jenny - 100 per cent - we need champions, and some of the best champions out there at the moment where you can look at banks, for example, and they’re saying if there’s a panel for employment going on, and you’re going to bring me four people. Two of them need to be men; two of them can be women. You know, that’s how they’re operating. There’s champions in there to make that sort of stuff happen. I think measure. You know, that’s the best way.
SUSAN What you measure is what you get.
MICHAEL What you measure is what you get. And then I want to quickly go back to the America’s Cup this morning where a little girl was being interviewed by an interviewer, and he asked a boy and a girl, ‘Do you think you’ll ever race in the America’s Cup?’ The guy said, ‘Yes.’ The little girl said, ‘No.’ And he said, ‘Why not?’ ‘Because I’m a girl.’ So I think there’s still some of that out there. To me, the people who we should be investing in today are the young people. And I’m saying young people - I’m looking at 25, 35-year-olds. We should be getting the channel right now. We should be filling the pipeline to make sure-
SUSAN I hope amongst your students, you’re not hearing young women saying, ‘No, I can’t do it because I’m a girl.’
RAYMOND MILLER -
RAYMOND I don’t hear that. But part of the problem, and Dame Shipley was talking about this. Part of the problem is that many of the gatekeepers are in fact males. You know, be it in politics, in business, in legal offices. Wherever it might be. They have to be prepared to open up and be more liberal.
KATE To change.
RAYMOND And to change. Absolutely. Because as long as they continue to act as gatekeepers, it will be hard.
KATE What is it about society that we see the statistics, and Dame Jenny Shipley spoke about this. ‘I have better outcomes for my boards when there’s more diversity.’ We see the statistics. We know the evidence, yet we’re not willing to change.
MICHAEL She’s talking about diversity, and not gender. And diversity, to my mind, is a bigger picture, and it’s a greater reflection of what I have in my community today. It’s ethnicity, it’s sexual preference, it’s age, it’s women.