Yesterday I shared breakfast at The Westin with 19 other Women in Strata, listening to Lisa Wilkinson’s story of a life filled with passion, resilience and bravery.
Lisa was speaking to a packed room (who knew 900 could be squeezed into the Westin’s Ballroom?) at the invitation of Business Chicks. She shared her ‘dream big, work hard’ message by taking us back to the late 1970s when she answered a job advertisement in the “women and girls” section of the Sydney Morning Herald. Within 2 short years, she was Dolly Magazine’s youngest editor (at age 21). She later built Cleo Magazine into the no. 1 selling women’s lifestyle magazine per capita in the world.
As she spoke graciously of her recent stoush with her former employer, her powerful words struck me: “This far, and no further”. That is what she said to herself when she decided to go head to head with Channel 9 and demand equal pay for the equal work she was doing beside her $2m a year co-host Karl Stefanovic.
“As women, we find it hard to work out what our value is,” she said. “I worked it out and I decided to take a stand. This far and no further.”
This is a vital female message that is currently resonating around the world. ‘The Silence Breakers’ were this week named as Time Magazine’s 2017 Most Influential Person of the Year: they are the hundreds of women (and a few men) who came forward and told their stories of sexual harassment and assault under the #metoo social media hashtag. They decided to take a stand, and their bravery has unleashed a cascade of truth-telling. Lisa summed it up: “the Harvey Weinstein’s of the world can run, but they can no longer hide.”
“This far and no further” is an important statement for us all, and one I will be keeping close at hand. So many of us do too much and expect too little. From being the one who bears the brunt of the household duties to the one who puts up with her male colleague’s unwelcome advances just to avoid rocking the boat. From being the only woman in the room at strata meetings to being the only woman sitting on the panel on stage, or the only woman on the corporate board (and feeling grateful to be there).
To over apologise and undervalue ourselves has come to be an ingrained and well-recognised part of the female condition. But it has gone too far. It’s time to stand with Lisa, and the other women around the world who are loudly saying: no further. We will know our value and we will honour it; we will bravely call out inequality and injustice, whether it involves us or those around us; we will do what is right even if that means doing it alone, and we will know that our sisters stand with us in support and admiration as we set an example for the generations to follow.
Have a lovely weekend.