Malcolm Gladwell has always been someone who not only pushes boundaries through stories but pushes the boundaries of stories. Earlier, this year I was privileged to have the opportunity to interview Malcolm at the Energy Disruptors 2019 Conference in Calgary. We delved into a wide-ranging discussion of his new book “Talking to Strangers” where he illuminates the many ways in which we misunderstand, mistrust and miscommunicate with each other. Our conversation made me wonder, if our natural instincts mean we’re wired in ways that limit and hinder our ability to foster connections with strangers, then how do we tell a different story? How do we navigate trust in an age where our value will rely on diversity and collaboration?
“We evolved as human beings in very, very close-knit family and intimate circles, and now we’re in a position where we have to deal overwhelmingly with people outside those intimate circles. And the skills we were perfecting for 100,000 years that worked on the intimate group, really don’t work that well on strangers.”
Malcolm Gladwell, #EDU2019
How to tell a different story?
Interestingly, given all the banter we hear about how hard it is to get cut-through in this ‘noisy’ world, Malcolm argues that if we have an authentic story to tell, then there has never been a better time to tell our story. He asserts that the trick lies not in speaking, but in listening. In any given social media minute, 41.6 million messages will be sent over Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, 347,222 people are scrolling Instagram, 87,500 people posting to Twitter and 4.5 million videos on YouTube are being watched.
Who are these people and why would they stop their ergonomically scrolling thumbs to listen to you?
As he unpacks his reply, the beautiful mind of Malcolm Gladwell meanders between trust, inequality, social context and cultural subtext. I ask, “Do we have a trust crisis?” To which Malcolm emphatically replies ‘no’. He points out that 15 years ago, the concept of hitting a button on a cellular device, waiting for a random car to show up, hopping into the said random car, to be driven by a complete stranger, while relying on a phone to map the correct route and then hopping out with no exchange of money or credit card swiping… was simply incomprehensible. Trust, these days it seems, is crowd-sourced. It’s not lost but it has morphed.
Malcolm argues, “On a macro level we are so insanely more trusting than we ever were”. We simply don’t have the time to walk around wondering if we should trust the bank (even post-Royal Commission), if we should trust the childcare helper looking after the kids (pending another Royal Commission), if we should trust the café owner making our food (or perhaps, more accurately, whether they’re paying their staff…) or even the Uber driver in charge of our safety. ‘Evolution selected us to trust people implicitly, unless we are given overwhelming evidence to the contrary’, says Malcolm.
“Talking to Strangers” explores whether the innate trust humans have developed over eons, continues to serve us in this hyper-connected, borderless age. Historically, we are used to interacting primarily with people who were ‘like us’. We assume that a smile is acceptance, a handshake is a deal and any number of other broad-sweeping generalisations can be made simply because… well we just assume it to be so. This isn’t necessarily an issue until trust blends with comfort, melds with compliance and tiptoes into unconscious bias.
At that point, we become incapable of telling a new story.
If trust enables us to form groups, communicate and collaborate more effectively, does trust also facilitate us excluding or dismissing alternative people and viewpoints? In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, short termism and fake news, can we trust what is presented to us by known (aka “trusted”) entities? Research shows that echo chambers function not by closing off external voices, but by openly distrusting and discrediting them, because ‘trust is an essential ingredient in belief-formation’ (Syed, 2019:186). In “Talking to Strangers”, Malcolm terms this phenomenon “default to truth”.
This short-cut route to belief-formation means that, often without the time, resources or motivation to make anything other than an assumption, we consume narratives without a lens of critical thinking. How does this affect collaboration with diverse minds? Growth into new markets? Innovative products to new customers? Malcolm suggests that we ‘read people from across cultures, the same way we read simplistic TV’. Unless we have some imperative to know what another person thinks, we only ask questions relevant to our answers. And we only hear answers relevant to our questions. In terms of today’s need to disrupt by design, ‘like-mindedness’ is of course catastrophic.
As an example, Malcolm discusses tech innovation and the incredibly slow adoption of milestone inventions such as the telephone. The telephone took a generation to catch on because its inventors did not comprehend the social context of the innovation. Malcolm asserts, ‘Social context wins over technically useful innovation, every time’. He runs through the three typical cycles of product innovation by companies:
The 1st story we tell the market is invariably a reactive power play
“Look! We have invented a shiny new thing.”
The 2nd story is often a misguided marketing play
“Look at the shiny new thing we have invented for you.”
The 3rd cycle is where finally, the symbolic meets the functional and society evolves around a new story
“Here’s a couple of new things our thing can do, how much it shines is up to you.”
If trust is built on our own limited reference points (biologically embedded by clan-living over a few hundred thousand years) the question for leaders, thinkers, collaborators and decision-makers is really, can we trust ourselves?
In order to change the story, we need to listen.
The telling of the story is in the listening. Malcolm exemplifies this with his work on the influential podcast ‘Revisionist History’. Billed as ‘a journey through the overlooked and misunderstood’ the resource is an encapsulation of how we can cut through the noise. When I ask how we get outside the box to debunk traditional thinking and create a new story, Malcolm replies, “if you are willing to do your homework, you will automatically be in a position to tell a story that the rest of the media is not telling.”
Today, with the proliferation of new technology applications driven by a homogeneous few, short-term efficiencies and pressure to deliver will propagate decision-making built on hidden risks. The lack of cognitive diversity will mean that reference points are cloned and outcomes fail to account for longer term and broad ranging impact and capability. As we bring our inspiring chat to a close, Malcolm asks “If technology is an engine of inequality, how can we hack the system?”
With hindsight (and a couple of months to ponder this question) I’d posit that by listening beyond our own need to be heard, we begin to hear the social context our words will fall into. By collaborating beyond the solution we think is needed, we will shift the zeitgeist of what’s permissible. And by being more generous with trust and the stories we choose to share, we begin to square the ledger on the trust account.
We choose to trust in difference, because indifference will get us nowhere.
As I look back on 2019, one of the absolute highlights was collaborating with the masterfully creative Adam Ferrier and CJ Holden to produce s p a c e – a gathering of unlike minds. The three-day event was an Australian first, built on a framework of peer-to-peer learning, with no speakers and no spectators. The event attracted a community of disruptive leaders -affectionately named our inaugural s p a c e cadets – to Byron Bay to disconnect, collaborate, and create in one of the most inspiring locations on earth.
s p a c e was built on a few big ideas:
We need to have more
In an age of intensifying digital echo chambers, breaking from routine thinking and giving ourselves over to unconventional collaborative experiences is paramount to creativity, critical thinking and empathy. s p a c e is designed to deliberately interrupt our norms, give us pause to reveal assumptions and seek out new thinking. Curiosity and play supersede self-consciousness. With no fear and no formal agenda, we are able to step up and own the collective experience. We give each other permission to be ourselves, rather than our job titles.
No passengers allowed.
There are intentionally no
official speakers or themes at s p a c e, the content is designed and led by
our attendees. In this way, a spirit of generosity runs through s p a c e, with
each attendee contributing something of their
choosing to the fully immersive and participatory program. This manifests in
the form of talks, workshops, skills sessions or whatever can be creatively
concocted! In fact, our participants’ creative interpretation of the brief (on
top of the wide array of interests and passions of the content itself) was one
of the standouts of s p a c e.
You do you. But make sure you ‘do’!
We know life-long learning is critical and cross-pollination of ideas extremely valuable, yet in an age where people fly for hours to attend a conference in person, practically every conference, festival or event retains a one-size-fits all, cookie-cutter approach. We want to shake up leadership in Australia by challenging the way we convene our leaders. The s p a c e format is a facilitated smorgasbord, allowing everyone to navigate the three-day experience in choose-your-own-adventure style. From sunrise Friday until well past sunset on Saturday, participants had the opportunity to attend as many different sessions as they liked, each led by peers. Often there were as many as ten different sessions running at once!
We designed the event specifically to ensure our s p a c e cadets were compelled not only to do as they pleased, but more importantly, to ‘do’. s p a c e has a real focus on turning conversation into action with ‘do-tanks’ providing the opportunity for attendees to pitch ideas and build a team of helpers to pursue their aspiration. This year, s p a c e do-tanks spurred 10 post-s p a c e projects covering everything from education to indigenous leadership development and urban evolution.
Our overarching goal was
to play a part in building a more ambitious Australia through shared ideas and
collaboration. What stands in the way of such collaboration? Australia does
seem to habour a few parochial handicaps. We think it’s time we kicked tall
poppy syndrome to the kerb and supercharged our country’s ambition. It’s time
we united the people who believe in constructively trying to solve problems versus
destructively denigrating the attempts of others on social media.
We believe, as Einstein put it, that the definition of insanity is thinking we can keep doing things the same way and get a different result. We hoped to create the conditions for new conversations and collaborations to flourish- the space to be challenged, to explore, to think deeply and to, after three short days, find yourself with scores of new friends, colleagues and potential partners-in-impact. And we were truly humbled by the reaction of the community who participated in round one… the letters, emails and calls we received in the weeks following s p a c e conveying the positive impact and emboldened focus of participants was awe-inspiring. This groundswell has energised us to take s p a c e into new territory in 2020- creating more immersive experiences, working on diversifying our community even further and taking do-tanks to another level.
Tech-optimist? Tech-pessimist? Tech-pragmatist? …Where do you sit?
Every day, we read about mind-bending new technologies
or innovative workplace practices on one hand, and stories of mismatched skills
being taught to young people or significant workforce retrenchments on the
other. So how do we separate the theatre from the threats and chart a path
forward? What are the major considerations we need to be turning our attention
to when it comes to the ‘nature’ of technology?
This was exactly the focus of my conversation when I interviewed former US Ambassador to Australia (and namesake of the Jeff Bleich Centre for Digital Technologies, Security and Governance) Jeffrey Bleich. Throughout our conversation, I was struck by his pragmatism, his awareness of the complex implications of technology and his willingness to act. This, I believe, is the substance we need from our leaders – courageous individuals who are prepared to take it in, take it on, and take the best of humanity with them.
How do we think, truly broadly about the digital ecosystem?… We haven’t really thought about the fact that digital technology is changing the way people live, breathe, work, eat and think about their lives …Thinking of it as an ecosystem that is particularly challenging to democracies.
Here are four of the big ideas from our conversation:
Conversation #1: AI has arrived. Ethical guidelines
Scientists and AI experts agree that we are in a race
against time: we need to establish ethicalguidelines
to catch up to technology’s irreversible integration into our lives. In January
2019, Gartner reported that AI adoption tripled in the last year alone, with
an estimated 37% of firms now implementing AI in some form. In a recent Deloitte
survey, 76% of
executives said they expected AI to “substantially transform” their companies
within three years. Since 2017, more than two dozen national governments have
strategies or plans to
develop ethics standards, policies, and regulations.
The problem? No two strategies are alike. While some Principles may correspond, the context of issues such as ethics, privacy and bias all shift dramatically between countries and cultures. Major technology companies are ahead in the global race to develop ethical guidelines and AI governance teams. We see new partnerships between Facebook and the Technical University of Munich (TUM) forming The Institute for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence, with an initial investment of $7.5 million. Amazon and the National Science Foundation recently earmarked $10 million for AI fairness research. Unless governments can get ahead of rapid change, the rule-breakers will become the rule-makers.
In theory, global bodies such as the OECD have
gathered support for overarching Principles on AI. However,
in practice, governments,
corporations, academic and science communities pursue AI strategies that do not
relate to each other. So how can we
possibly figure out how they relate to us?
Jeffrey Bleich stressed the need for systems-thinking – to understand that nothing happens in isolation from this point on. Just as international laws around space or the oceans exist, global AI ethical standards are surely achievable?
Conversation #2: We need to see technology through a
Every single choice you make, every thought you have, every aspect of how you move through the world is being gathered in these devices and it’s being constantly updated in ways that can’t really be controlled by our current cyber security technologies… The fact that we’re not thinking in those terms, should concern all of us.
The next generation will need to see their world as a
whole system – a seamless interface, perhaps. This is true of digital
technology’s impact in our governance systems, our workplaces, our homes, our
own brains. We are hyper-connected and every day, less able to switch off. AI
is becoming so integrated in our world that we lose sight of where it starts
and stops. How many hours in your day are completely free from technological
interruption or influence? Even when you sleep, it’s likely your behaviour is
being tracked simply because you didn’t update your phone settings. When you
wake, do you take a moment to think ‘how do I feel?’ Or do you reach for a device
to find out? As we move through our days, are our choices arising internally
from a desire or an idea? Or are we behaving according to predictive (and
prescriptive) behaviour models?
And what exactly is an AI? There is no precise
and accepted definition of AI. Is it machine learning? If so, how developed? In
movies we know AI to be non-biological consciousness. Usually portrayed as a
single connected entity. But as we move incrementally along the journey we
struggle as citizens to understand what is going on behind the laboratory doors
of big tech companies. Let alone how our governments are regulating to protect
us. If AI poses a threat, it moves behind a cover of normalised convenience.
Conversation #3: We need to adjust our governance. In
our homes, workplaces and democracies.
When we think about governance, we think about what the government does… but governance is the set of norms that we all live by… some of it is training ourselves to be more aware of threats and to adjust our own behaviour.
Whether we think about privacy, security or
surveillance, we need to understand that the changes technology brings run
deep, and currently, largely run free. As we’re already seeing, digital
technology has the potential to fundamentally shift our trust in each other,
which gets to the core of relationships and the bedrock of our communities.
This new domain requires a rethink of governance and of leadership throughout
In our conversation, Jeff discusses the urgency with
which leaders need to be having more mature conversations. We need to be across
AI, automation, mobility, blockchain and education. Leaders need to get out
ahead of issues, developing policy for 3-5 years’ time, rather than arguing
about 5G or autonomous vehicles like we still have a choice.
Leadership is needed to ensure we don’t let digital
divide. The poorest communities stand to be most at risk from job loss, information
exclusion and limited connectivity. In parallel, autocratic countries are
finding technology a useful means to exert more control over citizens. Will we
have a cold war in cyber? Is technology borderless? Or will it create new
Conversation #4: Human agency is being impacted
I think humanity is going to be very different at the end of this century than it is right now. It’s a hard thing to contemplate but we will. We will be augmented by tools that we’ve developed… technologies that we’re already using, we are changing the way our brains are wired, the way we think about the world.
For most of us, in all our humanness at this time in
history, AI represents a mechanism by which our behaviours are grouped, sorted,
targeted and modulated by data intelligence. Technology was born to enhance our
lives and advance our impact, but conversely, as its influence on us grows, we
find ourselves ring fenced and judged by its learned assumptions. Who is dictating behaviour now?
Algorithms tend to move us iteratively toward our own
extremes. Here’s an example Jeff gave in the interview: When we decide to watch
a youtube video, the experience becomes mediated by the algorithm, showing us
options of further videos to watch. When we click on something, the technology
pigeon-holes us and begins to show us slightly more extreme versions of what it
thinks we may like. If you click on a dog, your next set of options will be
different sets of dogs. If you click on a small dog, pretty soon you’ll be
looking at those handbag-sized pooches. In this way, the human brain is guided
further down a path or our own bias. The internet (un)naturally tends towards
extremes, with a capacity to fool humanity into the worst of itself.
Finally, here’s some food for thought from the
inspiring Jeff Bleich that I’d love to challenge you to discuss with a friend
or colleague: “At what point do we lose our wonderful, messy humanity, our
story-telling, our mistakes, our illogical tears and become rational,
predictable, superficial versions of ourselves?”
Appearing at Partner Connect 2019 Day Two, the Emergent CEO offered her advice on how business leaders can embrace change and set course for a more successful tomorrow.
Holly Ransom knows a thing or two about managing change in life and in business.
As the chief executive of Emergent, a company specialising in disruptive strategy and building the capacity of leaders to execute change, Ransom has developed her career along the themes of innovation and disruption.
Named one of Australia’s ‘100 Most Influential Women’ by the Australian Financial Review, Ransom has delivered a Peace Charter to the Dalai Lama, interviewed Barack Obama on stage and was Sir Richard Branson’s nominee for Wired Magazine’s ‘Smart List’ of Future Game Changers to watch in 2017.
To say that Ransom has some wisdom to share on the topic of change management is a severe understatement, which is why the attendees at MYOB Partner Connect 2019 were eager to hear her keynote presentation on the subject.
We can’t afford complacency
Ransom began her presentation by highlighting the challenge presented by a world undergoing significant disruption.
“In 1898, the US Patent Office came out and said that everything that could be invented, had been invented.
“Which is effectively like saying: ‘Hey everybody, put down your tools, let’s go to the pub – humankind has peaked.”
Ransom asked the audience to contrast that statement against all the change and innovation they’ve witnessed in their lives over just the past 18 months.
“We can’t afford complacency,” she said. “We can’t afford US Patent Office mentality to creep in.”
Things are moving faster and people are expecting brands to move with the same speed, and that has real impacts for things like customer response times, as just one example.
Ransom believes the small, repetitive behaviours that people perform on a daily basis are a far more powerful force for change than any quick fix.
“Relative to our goals and aspirations, and the way the world is changing, are our habits still serving the results we’re in pursuit of or do we have to change it up?”
For some, the change is already here and it’s evident in the way people are approaching how they think about their work.
“We’re moving out of an old paradigm into a new paradigm,” said Ransom.
“There’s a model for the way we worked in the industrial age that is broken relative to the way the world is demanding we work in 2019.”
“How do we start seeing life as a series of sprints?”
People are talking about ‘healthy stress’ versus ‘unhealthy stress’, ‘productive downtime’, ‘change fatigue’ and more as we struggle to come to terms with how we can adapt to a rapidly changing business environment.
Identifying your strength wheelhouse and the 24-7-1 method
It’s at this point that the practical nature of Ransom’s advice came to the fore, as she lay out a method for leveraging change.
The method relies on a reframing of what the way we think of fears in our lives.
“Something’s happened to the word ‘fear’ in our culture,” Ransom said.
“It’s become sensationalised, which means we have become desensitised to how it can turn up in daily life,” she said.
Ransom described fear as also being the many actions and activities people tend to shy away from in their day to day existence, preferring to exist within their comfort zone instead.
The area outside of a person’s comfort zone is their “courage zone” — an area populated by the habits we could (and should pursue), but tend not to.
“Between comfort and courage is the red line of resistance – the thing I want everyone to think about.”
The entire model Ransom describes as the “strength wheelhouse”, which she believes can act as a good model for planning behavioural growth.
“The best part about this is the amazing reward for effort you receive when you do the think you’re afraid of – your comfort zone expands.
“It’s just like being in the gym building a muscle – as your comfort zone expands, so situations you weren’t comfortable with before suddenly become easier.”
But, as Ransom pointed out, there’s no point going after big behavioural shifts all at once.
Instead, business owners and entrepreneurs should consider a more incremental approach.
“You’ve heard of Minimum Viable Product? I’d like to propose Minimum Viable Habits as a model for how we can go about dealing with change in our life and work,” said Ransom.
It’s a method that’s designed to work for our modern, busy lifestyles.
If workers are busy with their day-to-day, trying to enact large change quickly is more likely to fail.
Instead, Ransom suggests the “24-7-1” approach.
“The idea is that, within 24 hours of hearing this information, you need to take an initial bite-sized action step.
“The action is meant to be so small that it’s inexcusable you didn’t get it done in 24 hours.”
She recommends that step might be as simple as drawing up your own strength wheelhouse with all the things that are within your comfort zone and all the things you’d like to achieve that lie in your courage zone.
“Then, within seven days, you take a bigger step again.
“Within one month you’ve got to take a bigger action step again.”
This is Ransom’s blueprint for building minimum viable habits; something she says can be just as useful for teams as it for individuals, in work or life in general.
“Once you’ve gone through 24-7-1 once, then you roll it forward into a whole new one.
“And that’s because the single greatest ally we’ve got in trying for change is momentum.”
So, what would your strength wheelhouse and 24-7-1 action plan look like today?
Encryption. Extremist social media content. Driverless cars. Blockchain. Drones. Facial recognition. Cybersecurity. AI. Fake news. The list of technology issues confronting our society is mind-boggling, and only growing in number and complexity by the day.
We’re navigating a new world order… and it requires a skilful balancing act.
On one hand, as almost goes without saying, the impact of technology is staggering, both in terms of growth momentum and potential upside; business spending on AI alone jumped 54% in 2018 and by 2030 could bump up the global GDP by $15.7 trillion, representing a 14% increase. In many ways, AI is becoming the next space race, with countries around the world announcing their strategies for global dominance. In 2017, China launched its New Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plan, with a catalytic $30B investment, a strategy aimed at claiming global leadership in AI by 2030. When I interviewed the United Arab Emirate’s AI Minister (which is a world-first portfolio), Omar Sultan Al Olama last year, he was fresh from announcing a 50-year AI strategy for the UAE that by 2030 alone is predicted to contribute $96 billion to the UAE economy (12.6% of their GDP). Leaders in nation’s making assertive AI plays will tell you that economic upside is not only worth playing for, in the face of automation and predicted wide-spread job loss, but some kind of coordinated AI strategy and investment is also a compulsory entry ticket to the 21st century’s main game.
And for all the fearmongering surrounding what the rise of technology means for people and jobs (‘Terminator’-style visions of a robot uprising, anyone?), which I’ll touch on in a moment, there’s a strong case for optimism: tech capability + human capability (a combination often referred to as augmentation) provides us with the opportunity to be faster, smarter and better problem-solvers.
An app a day keeps the doctor away
An example of this new problem-solving capability is healthcare AI, expected to receive a stunning $6.6 billion in total public and private sector investment by 2021. As our population grows and ages, AI will likely be an essential component of how we meet the challenge of the projected ballooning of our healthcare costs. It’s predicted that top AI applications may result in annual savings of $150 billion by 2026. But it’s not just about cost saving, it’s about effectiveness and reach: AI can already diagnose skin cancer more accurately than humans, provide alternative service to the 20% of clinical demands that currently go unmet (because our doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals are maxed out!) and offers a means of providing medical care and health support services to some of our most remote communities.
Automation of a nation?
However, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. History has shown us with past industrial revolutions, that we will navigate a period of significant disruption as this next wave of innovation pervades every aspect of our lives. The challenge of workforce automation is real and significant. Current forecasts suggest 50% of jobs will be obsolete over the course of the next decade or so (the timeline shifts depending on which forecast you read) and this will be one of the greatest large-scale economic challenges our world has faced. Governments are grappling with how to train (and retrain) their populations and each of us is crossing our (yet to be automated) fingers that we’ll be in that 50% whose jobs aren’t lost. This is a significant challenge that shouldn’t be underplayed, particularly given the way the ‘digital divide’ (a term used to reference the wide variation in digital skill levels) is likely to play out socioeconomically. However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a zero sum game- new jobs will be created in this next wave of disruption, so to paint it (as often reported) as a net ‘loss of jobs’ glosses over some of the complexity of the changing labour force dynamic. In the Harnessing Revolution report, Accenture argued that fewer jobs will be lost if people are able to reallocate their skills to tasks that require more “human skills” such as complex analysis and social/emotional intelligence. They went as far as to say that if this strategy were properly implemented, the UK would be able to reduce the share of jobs at risk of being fully automated to less than six percent, Germany to ten percent and the US to four percent by the year 2035. So, in essence, if we get smart about how we upskill and reskill, we have the ability to make our economic transition smoother.
Governance – all on board
As Dr Melvin Kransberg, a Technology History Professor at Georgia Institute of Technology, said in a 1985 address:
“Technology is neither good nor bad; nor is it neutral.”
What Kranzberg identifies is that the way technology interacts with the social ecology will frequently have environmental, social, and human consequences that go far beyond the immediate purposes of the technical devices and practices themselves. Further, that same tech can have radically different results and consequences when introduced into different contexts or under different circumstances.
This is the reality we’ve increasingly been awakening to in the last 18 months as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica matter snowballed into a much broader conversation about the ethical frameworks governing how the big tech companies operate and how they should be governed. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg originally called for the government to take a hands-off approach, before making an about-turn to say that there was a need for government to step in and provide direction. Last year, It’s also important to acknowledge that these aren’t issues on the horizon, we’re already experiencing the effects, to point to just one data point:
In Australia alone, the annual direct cost associated with cybersecurity incidents to Australian businesses is $29 billion per annum, the equivalent of almost 2% (1.9%) of Australia’s GDP.
And that is just the tip of the digital, physical and political security iceberg we need to be considering as AI rapidly evolves the risk landscape for individuals, organisations and nations. Wherever you sit on the spectrum between optimist and pessimist, the (STEAM) train has left the station and it is a false binary to think our choice is whether or not we get onboard… that’s like suggesting there’s a choice between opportunity and obsolescence. The real question is whether we choose to step into the driver’s seat and take control, and how we choose to navigate change.
“It’s wonderful to be included in a gallery of such formidable, impressive and inspiring women,” Haussegger told The CEO Magazine. “I love reading and hearing other women’s stories, and not necessarily the success stories but just how they’ve done what they’ve done.”Previous
Women & Leadership Australia established the awards five years ago to celebrate female leaders and increase the presence of women in business and community leadership roles.
Waters, who made headlines in 2017 for breastfeeding her daughter while passing a motion in parliament, told The CEO Magazine it’s important to celebrate the outstanding women creating a better world.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” she says. “At the moment, the parliament is pale, male and stale and we need more women in there, which will not just create a more diverse political arena but also go a long way to fixing gender equity issues in other areas of our lives.”
Haussegger, who won the Australian Capital Territory award, said it was great to step back and take a moment to appreciate the merit of women’s work, which often goes unvalued.
“I think the role of awards such as this can’t be understated when it comes to aspiring younger women,” Haussegger says. “It’s terrific; in fact, very encouraging to see women come together to share stories, hear from other women, and share research tips and strategies for not only advancing in the workplace but for also encouraging others to aspire to leadership positions and step up.”
As the awards increase visibility and momentum for Australian women to receive equitable access to leadership positions across all industries, Haussegger, who was the 2019 ACT Australian of the Year, works to educate the nation on gender equality.
“I firmly believe that you can’t be what you can’t see,” – Larissa Waters