Tell us a little about yourself?
Married with three adult children (one with an intellectual disability), owning and running a business that provides complete healthcare solutions, based in Australia and operating around the world. I have a background in engineering (mechanical, aeronautical and flight test engineering) and have established and run businesses over the last 25 years. I have been blessed with my health, education, a loving family and a successful business. I have a strong sense of commitment to help others, especially those who have not had the privilege or luck that I have. I have a particular interest in disability, social housing and indigenous health issues.
Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?
There are several so I will limit it to a few below. My mother is still a terrific role model for me. She and my father set up and ran businesses when I was growing up. I saw a respect between them that was a great example of gender equality, with tasks shared due to skills and competence. My wife is an amazing example for me. When we were both younger, she sacrificed her career for mine, traveling around Australia and the world to suit my postings. She has adapted her career and skills to suit our location and situation and has a clarity around what is important and significant. I was also impressed with Amelia Earhart’s achievements. Whilst most commonly known for her flying exploits, she was also an author, an advisor to universities on aeronautical engineering and an early supporter on the US Equal Right Amendments supporting equal legal rights for all genders. Growing up I was amazed at the achievements of Marie Curie. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize and the only woman to win a Nobel Prize twice, as well as the only person to win it in two different fields (physics and chemistry). She developed treatments for cancer with radiation, and invented mobile x-ray machines to support field hospitals during the first world war. When I was in Warsaw, I visited her laboratory and was in awe of what she achieved with such basic equipment.
Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business,
particularly in leadership roles?
I have learnt that as a community we are stronger when all aspects of our community are represented in every aspect of our societal structures. Diversity brings different viewpoints, different leadership models, and better outcomes. To have 50% of our community not equally represented in business and leadership means that we are missing out on opportunities to have a better business community, better leadership, a stronger economy and ultimately a better community.
What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?
We need to look at the barriers to entry and then to on-going engagement in male dominated industries and then decide how to address them in an on-going and systemic manner. Men also need to ask women what are the barriers to entry and retention in these industries and what are solutions they would recommend to address those barriers. We should be ready for some ideas to succeed and some to fail, and use those results to improve and try again. Working collaboratively, we can address and remove these barriers, and create greater diversity across all areas of employment.
What further steps can be implemented to encourage women supporting women?
We can create opportunities for women to support and mentor younger women coming into industries. We should also use the mentoring to encourage skills and create opportunities. We can tell the stories of successful women as clear examples to young girls and women.
How would you motivate women to “lean in”?
Every woman should be made to feel comfortable to propose ideas or suggestions to either contribute to the organisation they are in, or to improve the situation they are operating in. Men need to be ready to engage with women in discussion and debate, and treat everyone’s opinion, male or female, as valid and worth hearing and taking the time to understand and appreciate. Making this a normal way of doing business will tell its own story of the success of leaning in, both for the women leaning in and for the organisations that bear the success.
How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?
Having grown up in a family where gender equality was the norm and now having a family where disability is the norm, I can clearly see the benefits of diversity and inclusion. In our business over 55% of our staff are women, and our company is stronger because of this diversity. We also have people from 19 different countries, 12 language groups, at least 8 diverse faiths, as well as people with physical and intellectual disabilities. My wife and I founded a charity that creates homeownership for people with an intellectual disability, creating inclusion in community. As I said in question 3, diversity and inclusion create a stronger, more resilient community.
Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?
My daughter and wife discuss and highlight examples of discrimination against women that gives me insight and understanding. They have provided clarity on unconscious bias against women that has made me both embarrassed by my behaviour and creating a desire to do better. An example is the use of language. They introduced me to the #LikeAGirl campaign. It had a powerful impact on me and I became significantly more aware of the power of language to demean and dismiss others. As a person granted so much luck in my life, I know that I need to continue my journey of supporting diversity