Diversity & Inclusion
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John Tait

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

20
John Tait
Married with two teenage children, most of my non-working time is taken up as being a parent. I wear multiple hats of a chauffeur, sports coach, part-time teacher, full-time life-coach, sometimes even a chef but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am also involved in several community-based activities and I enjoy volunteering with community groups.
“Women should be encouraged to follow their dreams and should be provided with more supportive, inclusive, respectful and welcoming environments in male-dominated industries.” — John Tait

Tell us a little about yourself?

Married with two teenage children, most of my non-working time is taken up as being a parent. I wear multiple hats of a chauffeur, sports coach, part-time teacher, full-time life-coach, sometimes even a chef but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Living in Geelong we enjoy fresh ocean air, a less traffic and a just a 20-minute drive to good surf beaches. I still play some competitive sport and enjoy working with my hands. I am also involved in several community-based activities: Justice of the Peace, school council and parent groups, and I enjoy volunteering with community groups.

Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?

It seems a bit of cliché, but my mother and my wife. Both are intelligent, well-read, strong-minded, and determined. Both possess a well-grounded sense of self-belief, perseverance, and ambition. I get inspired by the not so unusual everyday stuff. I have found myself being moved by individuals who have stood up in their community to do the right thing. I have a friend in the military who has been deployed several times and has endured some horrific events. The way she has taken control and not allowed these experiences to define her is highly inspiring. I have been inspired by the respective stories of Joan Kirner, Carmen Lawrence, and Julia Gillard. As the women who were the first in political leadership roles in Australia, they exposed the realities of the deeply entrenched and perfidious resistance to a woman. The active resistance that they faced was not about party politics, it was more about the acceptance of women in Leadership roles.

Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

Most organisations, public as well as private, would be able to reach exponential growth and will not be where they are if there is gender equality. There is a lack of diversity in style, substance, content, and perspective. If this needs to change then quite simply, we need to change the composition of leadership.

What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?

I am not sure I have any ‘original thinking’ to offer here, but I do think that change comes from a commitment to engineer two things: education and opportunity. No one should be deprived of an opportunity to be educated. Opportunity comes from acts of individual sponsorship as well as organisational ones. Aspirants need access to good coaching and mentoring. Organisations need to create opportunities for women to be able to perform and prove themselves irrespective of industries. Women should be encouraged to follow their dreams and should be provided with more supportive, inclusive, respectful and welcoming environments in male-dominated industries. There should be active measures to increase the number of women in such industries so that they do not remain male-dominated forever.

What further steps can be implemented to encourage women supporting women?

“Further steps” start with culture. A healthy organisation that aims to achieve long term success and prosperity must embed a culture of diversity and inclusion, creating behaviours that encourage women. Culture needs to be led by example, requiring all initiatives that are targeted to measure diversity and inclusion. Transparency and tools to measure these are essential.

Women who are in leadership roles should share their success stories and journeys with aspiring women leaders through mentoring and coaching, sponsoring programs and professional women cohorts. Men need to be actively engaged in the same culture and support this with the right mindset.

How would you motivate women to “lean in”?

I think that women are more inspired to “lean in” now then they have ever been but it is important to maintain this momentum of change. Keep creating opportunities for individuals to excel; institutionalise the promotion of women within organisations and make it measurable; identify more opportunities for support mechanism for individuals; recognise and celebrate success stories.

How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?

I find myself a lot more optimistic about the future in terms of diversity and inclusion. When I talk to my 17 year old daughter I realise that this generation of young women are very switched on and are highly motivated to meet the challenges head on – and they certainly will not accept what they see as unacceptable. They have a voice, they have an opinion and they have their own perception about things that they have seen growing up in this multi-cultural country, Australia. They have learned from the women who have preceded them, and they are motivated to progress towards achieving equality in opportunity.

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