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Audience urged to take control

The panel discussion (from left) Midja Fisher, Helen Driscoll, Tania Motton, Stephanie Parkin, Cassie Long and Emma Fitzgerald. Photos: Natalie Gauld

Only you can economically empower yourself. That was advice given by Westpac Commercial Banking General Manager Tania Motton at today’s Queensland Law Society (QLS) International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Tania was part of the panel discussion on the topic Count Her In: Accelerating Gender Equality Through Economic Empowerment along with Parallax Legal co-founders Stephanie Parkin and Cassie Lang, Rose Litigation Associate and QLS Future Leaders Committee Member Helen Driscoll, and Hemmant’s List Centre Barrister Emma Fitzgerald, chaired by Midja Fisher.

The panel discussed salary disparity, on the back of last week’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency data, and the value of asking for an increase rather than waiting for a review, and the choice to look at other opportunities.

“The reality is if you’re good at your job, and your watching brief is both experience and capability, and a great team culture, you will be valued in another firm,” Tania advised the Brisbane City Hall audience, when the panel discussed salary parity.

“It’s okay; it doesn’t mean you’re not loyal. The only person that is going to economically empower you is yourself. It has got to start there.

“Being able to make that choice to go to another firm or another interview or workplace, it is the most liberating thing how valued you are for your experience in the place that you will go to, in comparison to the place you’ve potentially grown up with.

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“You’ve got to be brave and confident – that step isn’t actually scary as it might seem.”

Helen spoke about the Queensland Legal Salary Survey, run by Queensland Young Lawyers, and the themes that had emerged over the past seven years.

She said qualitative data on reasons to leave or stay with a firm showed more female respondents identified they valued “flexible work arrangements and better work-life balance over salary”, and indicated they thought they should wait for their annual review rather than ask.

“Whereas more male respondents said they valued salary and career opportunities as their reasons to leave or stay,” Helen said.

“Male respondents comments indicate if they feel they have been outperforming their role and they will go on and ask.

“I think it is something that you learn as you get a little bit older and something that I’ve been learning is you need to step into your own power.

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“You need to ask and need to bat for yourself because really you’re your own best cheerleader.”


Rebecca Fogerty welcomed the attendees.

QLS President Rebecca Fogerty, who welcomed the 400-plus attendees, said women’s economic empowerment was not just about access to a job and money but the “greater power and self-determination that these can unlock”.

“The connection is by no means guaranteed,” Rebecca said.

More than $8000 was raised at the breakfast to support Dress for Success Brisbane, an organisation committed to overcoming the barriers to employment for women.

More IWD coverage in Proctor this week.

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