23 January, 2020

Women in Drinks: building career confidence

Women in Drinks: building career confidence

Having confidence in your potential and chasing after it were the focus at Women in Drinks' latest NSW event.

The lively panel discussion - held at Pernod Ricard's head office at Barangaroo, Sydney - explored the differences in how women and men advance their careers and successfully negotiate salaries and pay rises. 

The external recruiter perspective was given by Susan Makatoa, Division Director of Coporate at Temple; the in-house employer perspective came from Jane Hill, People & Culture Director at Lion; and the personal experience perspective came from Jemma McGinley-Eaves, Head of Supply Chain and Business Development at Diageo, who has worked her way up the Diageo ranks in the male-dominated environments of sales and supply.

The panel was moderated by Eoin Brawn, Head of Field Sales and Capability at Diageo Australia.

It was clear during the event that finding the confidence to know your worth and ask for pay rises were hot issues for attendees.

Fighting the gender pay gap 

Makatoa kicked off the discussion by noting that the gender gap starts from day one of an employee's first job, which she described as "kind of chilling".

She also noted that women are more likely to accept a lower wage than they deserve.

"What men never say is 'I’m on $50,000 but I’ll take less if the job is right," she said. "Understand your worth and keep looking at what criteria you have to get yourself to the next level."

As an employer, Hill isn't an advocate for asking about current salary during the application or interview process to avoid those issues. 

"What we find at Lion is that men won’t be as up front about what they’re earning, instead they will tell you what their expectations are.

"Telling people what you’re earning puts you on the back foot. At Lion we talk about the salary range for the role. If we keep perpetuating the focus on what women are currently earning, we won’t move forward on the gender pay gap."

She also urged women not to focus as much on the skills they don't have for a job.

"Men will talk about what they will bring to the role rather than focusing on the skills they don’t have," she explained. 

Hill also had a fascinating analogy for why its important to introduce intiatives such as targets to close the gender pay gap.

She compared it to the hospitality industry's previous policy of a posting a notice urging people to turn off the lights and air conditioning when they left a hotel room.

Guests didn't pay attention to the notice. So hotels created a room key that was required to be placed in a slot for the electricity to work in the room. 

"We need to put initiatives in place that change the mindset," she said. 

Hiring the "scrapper"

Makatoa noted that those who’ve faced adversity in their lives are highly valuable in the workplace. She believes companies can be too rigid in their resume requirements for interviewees. 

She referred to a TEDx talk by human resources executive Regina Hartley called "Why the best hire might not have the perfect resume." 

Given the choice between a job candidate with a perfect resume and one who has fought through difficulty, Hartley always gives the "Scrapper" a chance. As someone who grew up with adversity, Hartley knows that those who flourish in the darkest of spaces are empowered with the grit to persist in an ever-changing workplace.

"Choose the underestimated contender, whose secret weapons are passion and purpose," she says. "Hire the Scrapper."

Makatoa tries to always send an "out of the box" candidate for interviews, along with four people who meet all the criteria. She said the out of the box candidate who doesn’t necessarily tick all the boxes is sometimes the one who gets the job.

Tips for growing confidence

McGinley-Eaves noted that while women don't have an issue with asking for what they want in their working life when it comes to agencies or clients, but  don’t take that approach with remuneration.

"I'm notorious for the hashtag #backyourself," she said. "The best thing you can do for yourself is try and take a risk. Your ego might take the occasional whack, but if you don’t ask you don’t get.

"And if you’re not in an environment where you’re getting traction, leave."

All three women were advocates for putting your hand up as a technique for getting noticed.

"Your boss will remember the person who put themselves forward for projects," Hill said. "Make sure they know what your role and achievements were in them."

Makatoa added: "Take control of your professional development. And, if you're a manager and someone comes to you who is really motivated, back them if they ask to do something that will grow their skills and benefit the company."

Networking know-how

Makatoa told attendees that it was vital for them to be on Linked In and build their profile on the site to get noticed in the industry.

"Like and share other people's content," she suggested. "Post original items of your own - the rule is eight pieces of shared content to one original. It doesn't have to be 1000 words, it could just be a comment about a relevant event you've attended such as this one. Become more visible."

"Ask people a couple of rings above you out for a coffee and ask how they got there," Makatoa also suggested.

Women in Drinks is an initiative by The Drinks Association to highlight issues facing women in the workplace, champion opportunities and offer networking events for women working in the drinks industry. The Drinks Association is a not-for-profit organisation that offers everything from industry data to targeted forums and a broad spectrum of events, publications and websites, including Drinks Trade, Drinks Bulletin and Drinks Guide. It works to build a stronger, more informed Australian drinks industry by providing commonly required services.