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International Women’s Day should mean leading by example

By Therese Frangie

In 1966, a young woman, with her four children in tow, embarked on a 30-day sea journey to Australia, marking her youngest child's second birthday amidst the waves. This trip was driven by the hope of a better future for her family, all based on the promise of a letter.

This woman, my grandmother, crossed the unknown with struggles, resilience, and bravery. Navigating the working-mum juggle in a way I can only imagine, she had an entrepreneurial spirit and determination as she learnt a new language and baked and sold bread to support her family. Her journey is just one of many testaments to the strong will of women, highlighting their strength, resilience, and significant contributions over the years.

Fast forward 58 years, two generations on, and I sit here writing for International Women’s Day, perplexed that we still need to designate a specific day to acknowledge women's contributions and champion their rights. Through my lens of the world, and over my career, I have seen progress. However, I’m not ignorant of the fact that I live in Australia, a country that is more progressive when it comes to equality.

Whilst we still face our own set of challenges, they are comparatively minor against the backdrop of global struggles, making the reason for a day promoting women even more necessary.

Embracing themes like "Inspire Inclusion" and "Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress," we're prompted to lead by example and look to International Women's Day as more than just talking about the 19% pay gap¹. It's about creating a place where everyone, no matter their gender or circumstance, has the same opportunities, with the specific support needed for each person to succeed.

So, this year, let’s accelerate progress by investing in all people, no matter their gender, ethnicity, age or ‘level’. Teaching our teams what diversity and being inclusive means and empowering them to speak up and take action.

What steps can businesses in the QSR sector take? My recommendations may not be revolutionary, but they reflect the standards all organisations are now expected to meet, and what we proudly uphold at Mad Mex:

  • Leadership Education and Action: Ensure that your executive teams are well-versed in diversity and inclusion. Are they setting a positive example, actively speaking out, and addressing behaviours that contradict these values? At Mad Mex, we pride ourselves on leading by example and achieving gender balance across our organization, with 50% of our Executive Leadership Team being female.
  • Comprehensive Training: Implement training programs for all employees, including managers, franchisees, and store teams, to educate and develop a better understanding of diversity and inclusion.
  • Values that Embrace Diversity: Does your company culture value people, their contribution and impact? At Mad Mex, 'Connection' is one of our core values, a powerful springboard for inclusion.
  • Equal pay for equal work: Regularly assess employee remuneration to identify and correct any biases. Ensure that pay and work evaluations are conducted fairly, recognising the skills and responsibilities of each role. Mad Mex leads in the QSR industry with a gender pay gap of -1.1%, reflecting our dedication to equitable pay across all organisational levels.
  • Flexibility in Accommodating Employees: How adaptable is your business in meeting the unique needs of each employee? Do you offer flexible working? Do managers look to build relationships, seek to understand, and ensure everybody has what they need to be included?
  • Feedback and Continuous Improvement: Establish forums to seek feedback and a process to review, make changes, and communicate back.

Through our actions and leadership, we have the power to create ripples of change. Mother Teresa was known to say, "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the water to create many ripples." This International Women’s Day, be the catalyst for those ripples, lead by example, and champion a culture where diversity is strength, and every single person is supported to succeed.

1 WGEA report 2024.

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