Free Subscription

  • Access daily briefings and unlimited news articles


Only $34.95 per year
  • Quarterly magazine and digital
  • Indepth executive interviews
  • Unlimited news and insights
  • Expert opinion and analysis

Words to live by: Advice for females on leadership, confidence and work-life balance

In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, businesses across Australia will be taking stock of the progress they have made towards gender equality, from paid parental leave and more flexible workplace policies, to greater leadership and boardroom diversity and a smaller gender pay gap.

According to the latest data from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the retail industry as a whole has narrowed the pay gap from 17.6 per cent in 2014 to 15.9 per cent in 2019. It’s a little underwhelming.

And when it comes to women in positions of leadership, retail is well behind other industries, with women making up just 11.4 per cent of CEOs and heads of business, compared to 17.1 per cent in all industries.

So, there is still a lot of work to do. And while IWD rightly shines a light on this space, we at Inside FMCG and Inside Retail feel it’s important to cover the issues affecting women in FMCG and retail throughout the year, not just on a single day.

Which is why we’ve compiled some of the best quotes on work-life balance, leadership diversity, unconscious bias and more from our archive. We’ve also included a few noteworthy quotes from non-retail leaders, because, well, Jacinda Ardern.

On balancing work and motherhood

“I am not the first woman to multi-task. I am not the first woman to work and have a baby – there are many women who have done this before.”

  • Jacinda Ardern, prime minister of New Zealand, announcing her pregnancy in 2018, via SBS

“We understand that transitioning back to work for new parents can be very stressful and hence it is the greatest reason many don’t return to work at all, or only return for a short time. This is why we believe it is essential to support returning parents through partner programs such as Circle In. [It] gives access to practical information from managing the process of going on parental leave to offering support and connection back into the business while a parent is on leave, to finally providing encouragement to re-join the workforce when the time is right.”

  • Amber Kristof, director of HR L’Oréal Australia and New Zealand, speaking to Inside FMCG in 2018

“Almost 5,000 of our team members take parental leave every year and we don’t believe they should be disadvantaged in retirement for doing so. We know Australian women are retiring with a lot less super than men. As one of the country’s largest private employers we want to play our part in closing the gap. We hope it’ll help create an even more inclusive workplace at Woolworths, where all team members can enjoy the same rewards, resources and opportunities, regardless of gender.”

Kate Morris, founder and CEO of Adore Beauty

On upskilling yourself and others 

“Trying to get more women into STEM careers, not just studying it at school but careers, is something I’m quite passionate about. Every business nowadays has a significant technology aspect to it. In retail, where women are making 85 per cent of purchasing decisions, women who study STEM will be well equipped to do well and contribute value.” 

  • Kate Morris, founder and CEO of Adore Beauty, speaking to Inside Retail in 2017
Béatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, head of group human resources of Nestlé

On closing the leadership gap

“We want to make Nestlé an even more inclusive and inspiring place to work. This is a policy that will benefit every one of our people when they welcome a new child to their family, wherever they are in the world,”

  • Béatrice Guillaume-Grabisch, Nestlé head of group human resources, speaking to Inside FMCG in 2019

“Women of all ages want to feel represented in media and society, however not all retailers accurately represent a variety of ages in their marketing. The research we commissioned outlined that only 12 per cent of women over 40 felt accurately and adequately represented in the media and society today. When you walk into any one of our stores, we focus on being inclusive and welcoming.”

“We know that when we embrace diversity and inclusion in larger organisations like Unilever, we unleash the best in creativity, ideas and innovation – it’s business critical for us.”

  • Aline Santos, Unilever’s executive vice president, global marketing and head of diversity and inclusion, speaking to Inside FMCG in 2018

“Female representation has always been most concentrated in customer service roles, but then becomes increasingly sparse with every rung up the management ladder…we need to see real action and a move towards workplaces that allow female leaders to progress by embracing everything they have to offer and cultivating them throughout their careers.”

  • Dominique Lamb, CEO of the NRA, speaking to Inside Retail in 2018

“Having the right sponsor to introduce you to people, talk about opportunities with you and advocate for you in the business is statistically the most important thing you can do.” 

  • Rhonda Brighton-Hall, director of the Australian HR Institute, speaking to Inside Retail in 2017

“For a really long time, we have assumed that leaders have to look and sound a particular way and anyone that doesn’t fit that stereotype is seen as not having merit or somehow being in that role as a tokenistic gesture. But if you normalise the difference, no-one will bat an eyelid. That person got that job not because they’re female, culturally diverse or have a visible disability – they got that job because they have merit and that’s where we have to challenge the concept of a meritocracy and what that means.” 

  • Mariam Veiszadeh, diversity and inclusion consultant, speaking to Inside Retail in 2017
Laura Doonin, partner and director of Moustache Republic

On including men

“I don’t think you can ask women to play a protagonist role [in their lives] and lean in if we’re not celebrating [men] playing a bigger role at home. Having paternity leave is great, but having it celebrated both within an organisation and society is where there’s a lot of work to do.”

  • Kate Box, head of retail at Facebook ANZ, speaking at the Women in Leadership Breakfast in 2019

“I really believe that change – real change – only happens in the day to day. I am trying to check my own unconscious biases, support other females around me who are pushing ahead and focus on diversity as the matrix – not gender. I also want to support the good guys around me – we need the good ones!”

  • Laura Doonin, partner and director of Moustache Republic, speaking to Internet Retailing in 2019
Tory Burch, founder of Tory Burch

On confidence

“I think there’s a tendency with some women especially to internalise and think, ‘I have to be perfect at everything before I’m going to put myself out there.’ We’ve got to change that mindset. And I think it starts with confidence.” 

  • Lynne Doughtie, CEO and US chairman of KPMG, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2017 via Fortune
Esme Borgelt, managing director Kellogg’s ANZ

On why diversity matters

“That is a personal passion of mine around diversity and inclusion as well and I’m really proud that this isn’t new for us. This commitment can be traced back to our founder, W.K Kellogg, who was a pioneer in employing women and reaching across cultural boundaries many years ago. We are focused on accelerating our gender equity progress to increase female representation across all areas of the business. Diversity goes across gender, culture, generation and experiences and by harnessing all of that it makes us stronger and it’s the key reason for our business success over the past 100 years.”

“We love having a diverse team that reflects the communities in which we operate.”

  • Jacqui Combes, HR director at Bunnings, speaking to Inside Retail in 2019

“There is an abundance of research showing that diversity of thought brings better decision-making, and this can only be a good thing when it comes to running businesses to yield performance and engaged teams.” 

  • Anna Lee, CFO of The Iconic, speaking to Inside Retail in 2018

You have 3 free articles.