Pledge for parity – Sharon Warburton on how to make it happen

In 2015 we talked about ‘Making it Happen’. This year we’re being asked to make a pledge for parity. I’m confused. If we ‘made it happen’ then why do we need to pledge?

Perhaps it’s because we talked about ‘making it happen’ but didn’t find time to actually fulfil the words. Because it stayed on the bottom of the ‘to do’ list of our busy lives. Perhaps we still intend to ‘make it happen’ when we find time. Or maybe we spoke about ‘making it happen’ without the intent to see it through or belief that we could accomplish it. Someone else will run with it, won’t they? We hurried back to work and went about our daily lives because the doers or dreamers will take the lead, won’t they? Or perhaps we really tried but failed. You know, like that diet that the Ben and Jerry’s setback spoiled.

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This sound familiar?

Not for me. I talked and wrote about three things I would do to ‘make it happen’. I shared them widely. And I crossed all three of them off my list. It wasn’t hard. Because I made them a priority. Not a priority in the future when my daughter starts her career. I made it a priority today.

I said I would:

  1. Choose my words carefully. Language should be gender neutral so as to be inclusive. It should be motivating and encouraging for all children. Most of all it should be kind to yourself – ban the words common in negative thoughts!
  2. Mentor and seek mentors. Giving and seeking out the same mentoring advice as my male peers. I wouldn’t just tell the women to work on their soft skills and the men to work on their business acumen. I would give them the same message regardless of gender.
  3. Make a stand for flexible working arrangements, regardless of the different meanings it has for different people. For me, it give me the ability to juggle my board roles, make time for my mentoring passion via Steel Heels, and most importantly, be a great Mum to little Chloe.

Over the last year I ‘made it happen’ by:

(1) Asking audiences and colleagues to correct me when my language fails the gender neutral test. I’ve been conscious of language when conversing with Miss Chloe, putting particular emphasis on how I categorise certain occupations (I used ‘they’ rather than ‘he’ or ‘she’). I was not perfect, but I got a lot better.

(2) Mentoring many women and men. Face-to-face – I spent my daily coffee break meeting someone for a quick chat. I spent my drive down the freeway in the morning mentoring those in remote locations. I also mentored thousands through Steel Heels and I grew my Steel Heels community by offering a half hour mentoring session in exchange for a Steel Heels guest blog. Worked a treat! Quid pro quo. I also shared my own stories, experiences and ideas.

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(3) Agreeing on part-time working arrangements with my executive role employer. I said no to breakfast functions so I could spend that quality time with Miss Chloe. And I found support via innovative resourcing methods to grow Steel Heels.

Step up and convert your words into actions

I love hearing the community conversation turning towards diversity, parity and equality. But I love creating and implementing actions that drive change even more. If you are talking but not doing, then take the next step. Step up and convert your words into actions. Make your pledge a measureable action. Be open about it. Commit yourself and tell others to hold you to account. Don’t be shy.

So, to my pledge.

I pledge to maintain focus on my three actions. In doing so, I will continue to focus on implementing initiatives aimed at increasing the self-confidence of women in the workplace. I pledge to continue talking but to ensure my actions speak louder. I pledge to continue to grow Steel Heels (the online mentoring platform I founded). I pledge to broaden the reach of Steel Heels, particularly to younger women who are just embarking on their careers. I pledge to work with corporates around the globe to introduce Steel Heels as a tool to support their workforce. And I pledge to be open to new ideas.

What is your #PledgeforParity?

What will you do to make it a priority?

Sharon Warburton has been smashing glass ceilings in the resources and construction industries for more than 20 years. Today she is a Non Executive Director, a NFP Director, single mum to Miss Chloe and a mentor to many. Sharon is the 2014 Telstra WA Business Woman of the Year and the NAB Women’s Agenda Mentor of the Year. She is the founder of – an online mentoring platform aimed at increasing self-confidence in the workplace.