Event: Jennifer Westacott interview with Neil Mitchell, 3AW
Speaker: Jennifer Westacott
Date: 15 September 2017
Topics: Workplace diversity
Neil Mitchell, host: Chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, one of the country's most successful business leaders. More calls from women in a month. She's actually in Washington, DC, at the moment. Jennifer Westacott, thanks for your time.
Jennifer Westacott, Business Council chief executive: Thank you.
Mitchell: This is a surge of women. It's a huge change coming, isn't it?
Westacott: It's a big change, yeah. It's a very big change in our society, as you say, and I think it's really good. I think this is one of the things getting women to work, workforce participation up. It's really good for the economy. It's good for the country. But I think there are still things we need to do to make it easier for women to work, to make it easier for men to look after their children, make it easier to have families. But I think this is good news and it shows that a lot of the things that companies are doing to encourage diversity are working.
Mitchell: Okay. So why the surge of women? 75% of the jobs in August went to women. Why?
Westacott: Look, I think a lot of this is companies wanting more diverse workforces. I think a lot of companies, be they small, be they large, they want a workforce that reflects the population, and half the population is women. So, I think it's just kind of, you know, after years and years and years, we're starting to sort of see a lot of progress in this area. And look, I do think a lot of the things that small and big companies are doing to make things more flexible for people are starting to have a real impact. And I think this just makes sense for a lot of companies, particularly small business, where often women want to work more flexibly, and that suits the business as well.
Mitchell: So, okay, the flexibility's part of it. How's it changing the workplace, though?
Mitchell: How does it change the workplace? If you've got-
Westacott: Oh, I think-
Mitchell: Assume your average workplace has a higher percentage of women now than it used to have
Westacott: Yes. Look, I think it just makes it a kind of more reflective of the population. I think it just, I'm not sure, I think it does change the workforce. I think it does change the workplace, and I think that's probably for the better. But I think more it just reflects kind of who we are as a society, the makeup of our population. But I think the one really big change that's happened in workplaces is this question of flexibility, just making it easier for people to go home, pick up the kids, come in late after they've dropped the kids off for something.
Westacott: And I think that's not just about women. That's about men doing that as well and men sharing those responsibilities. And I think a lot of companies are making that easier.
Mitchell: Thank you very much for your time. Jennifer Westacott, chief executive, Business Council of Australia. Quite seriously, this is a bigger social change than gay marriage.