Great women recognised with telstra awards

After a hour delay to my flight back from Sydney on Tuesday this week I finally made it to the ACT Telstra Business Women’s Awards. I was sitting next to last years winner Kate Sykes from Career Mums and it was great to catch up with her and have a few laughs about our crazy lives. Always refreshing and comforting to know that women all over the ACT and in so many different jobs, paid and unpaid are juggling kids and careers just like me. Here is my speech and at the end is a list of the winners. KG

I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Ms Joy Burch, my Assembly colleague Dr Andrew Leigh MP Chris Taylor Area General Manager Telstra Ms Kate Sykes 2011 finalists, judges and sponsors

Welcome everyone here today to these fantastic awards.

Firstly can I apologise for being late today and thank you to the organisers for the flexibility of the program to allow for my delay. I blame my delay on Qantas ( I hope they aren’t a sponsor are they) . I was trying to get back from Sydney this morning and anyone who knows me and my fear of flying will understand the seriousness of a situation where the door on the plane we were to board was broken!!!!! Anyway I’m here.

It’s an honour to be part of this annual celebration of the achievements of outstanding women in our business community. It’s also my first opportunity as Chief Minister to put on record my appreciation and admiration, and the appreciation and admiration of my Government, for the businesswomen of this city.

Let’s face it, women run this city! Whether it be the Prime Minister, the Governor-General or the humble old/young Chief Minister. There’s no doubt that the women are managing the big issues.

Women have been in the thick of things from the very first years of Canberra’s emergence as a city. As Hilda Tapley Short famously said, on her arrival in 1929, at the request of the Federal Government, to set up the ACT’s first YWCA – Girls can make this community what they will

and ‘what they’ve willed’ is that our city should be a city of opportunity for all, regardless of gender, race or age.

These awards are always a fantastic opportunity to aknowledge some of the fabulous women that are working across our community and there are so many examples of this  some of these are being celebrated today. The awards are also a useful reminder that ‘business’, as understood by Telstra, and as embraced by our community, is far broader than simply the world of commerce, narrowly defined. The qualities that characterise a truly great business entrepreneur are similar to the qualities that distinguish a great leader in the community sector, or in certain areas of government activity. These sectors too are part of the ‘business’ of being a community, and that’s why these awards recognise excellence wherever it is found.

And when it comes to women in business, excellence is found everywhere.

The latest Financial Times listings of global ‘Women at the Top’ is a reminder that women’s business skills are no longer concentrated in areas that might traditionally be regarded as the female domain.

Of the Top 20 women listed by the Financial Times, a quarter – the largest grouping – work in banking and finance.

The next biggest cluster is ICT, an area in which, latest figures show, women are now launching companies at twice the rate of men.

The rest of the top 20 are scattered across industrials, energy, media and an assortment of other fields.

The small but growing presence of women in banking and finance is particularly encouraging, in light of a new book about the Global Financial Crisis, which suggests that the crisis might – in part at least – be blamed on the absence of women on the boards of most banks.

The book is called Masters of Nothing. Writing of the stridently masculine culture of banking at the time of the crisis, the authors – a former senior adviser to a Conservative Party Shadow Chancellor in the UK and the head of a polling agency – say that business in the lead-up to the crisis was characterised by what they call the ‘sexio-economic effect. In lay-woman’s terms, the ‘my bank is bigger than yours phenomenon.”

An interesting theory and judging by that laughter a scenario that many of us women can relate to at some point in our careers.

The ACT has always led the way with supporting women in the workplace,

  • We have the highest female labour force participation rates in Australia at 68%.
  • 67% of those who work in the ACT Public Service are women, as are 42% of those elected to the current ACT Legislative Assembly.

And let’s not forget two women who I mentioned earlier and who currently make the national capital their home: our Governor General, and our Prime Minister. I think we can claim them today as honorary Canberrans for our purposes today.

As women it’s so important that we gather to celebrate our collective achievements (god knows the boys always do!)

When I do my grocery shopping on the weekend people often comment as I navigate the shopping trolley how amazing it is that the Chief Minister does her own shopping ( I have stopped taking the kids shopping with me as I have decided that shouting at your kids in a shopping centre is probably a little unbecoming for a Chief Minister so they re best left at home!) I think people think I lead a much more glamorous life than I do. I think one of our secrets to success as women is that we are multi-taskers and we will do anything to get the job done, whatever that job is. Now if that is co-ordinating a cabinet meeting or making sure the family has supplies for the week so be it.

We are the quiet achievers but we achieve so much. It is a rare occurrence that we get together (at a lunch nonetheless) to celebrate our peers and all that they achieve. Thank you to Telstra for leading the way with these awards (17yrs and counting) and thank you to all those fabulous women toiling away delivering for their employer and in turn the community.

Like many of you, I grew up in Canberra. I have watched it grow and mature from a public-service town into the amazing city that sustains the array of world-class businesses represented here today.

It really has become a place few of us could have imagined in the 1970s – though perhaps it might have been imagined back in the 1920s by Hilda Tapley Short, as she stepped off the train and took a good, hard look at her new home.

Every woman here today has helped make this city what it is, and all of you serve as inspiration and examples to the girls and young women now just starting to imagine what their own professional futures might hold. So thank you for that important work.

I ‘m very sorry that I can’t stay for the entire event today but due to the multitasking I spoke of earlier I am required to chair a cabinet meeting and I can’t leave the boys alone for that one!

Congratulations to all the 2011 finalists and a special congratulations to this year’s winners

Thank you.

And the winners of the 2011 Telstra ACT Business Women’s Awards

  • Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award – Karen Nicholas, Learning Options
  • Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award – Janine Yukom, Westpac
  • White Pages Community and Government Award – Dr Robyn Walker, Dept of Defence
  • Nokia Business Innovation Award – Barbara Reid, ACT Health Directorate
  • Marie Claire Young Business Women’s Award – Julie McKay, UN Women Australia

overall Telstra Business Woman of the Year ACT – Dr Robyn Walker