More than 500 women attended the third Women in Public Sector Summit in Wellington on Wednesday and many came away inspired.
The summit is for women at all levels of their career – those preparing for their first leadership role, those wanting to know how to progress their careers in the Public Service and those who have experienced barriers to promotion. It was fully booked.
From what I hear, the day was a huge success. There were many outstanding speeches and stories that resonated with women in the audience. They resonated because they were honest. Women leaders such as Rebecca Kitteridge (Director-General of the NZ Security Intelligence Service), Vic Crone (Chief Executive, Callaghan Innovation), Paula Tesoriero (Disability Rights Commissioner at the Human Rights Commission) and Debbie Power (Deputy State Services Commissioner) shared their personal journeys and their struggles and triumphs along the way.
Debbie tells me there was a real sense of empowerment in the room with two common themes that stood out: don’t be afraid to take the next step, and; it’s okay to try something and fail. They are important messages because having the courage to take risks is what will make all the difference in the end.
Getting more women into senior leadership roles and closing the gender pay gap are priorities of mine as State Services Commissioner. Currently, 13 of 31 (42%) Chief Executives in the Public Service are women. The gender pay gap, at 12.5%, is at its lowest since we began recording in 2000. While both these important issues are heading in the right direction we have a lot more work to do. And we are absolutely up for it.