Personal narrative creates change

December 3, 2014 by  
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Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner and named as Westpac’s 2014 Woman of Influence, shared her belief in the power of sharing personal stories to effect change at Executive Women’s Australia’s lunch event late last month.

On the same day, two reports from the Defence Abuse Response Taskforce were tabled in Parliament, discussing historical abuses.  As Commissioner Broderick reflected on the news of the day she shared some of her approach to the work she is doing in investigating the current situation and ensuing change in our armed forces – and the power of stories in moving the issue from the head to the heart. She said she could see the penny drop when she brought women who had endured abuse face-to-face with the leaders of our armed forces.

Commissioner Broderick spoke compellingly about enlisting men in positions of power to stand alongside women in order to commit to action as equals for the greater good.

“Gender equality is not a zero sum game. It is an issue of balance with good, fabulous, decent men working with us and standing beside us.”

She called upon both men and women to commit to activism by sharing information on domestic violence at the beginning of any talk they give, wherever they were and regardless of the topic they were there to discuss.  She spoke of the importance of acknowledging White Ribbon Day and of the urgent need to take on an issue impacting more women across the world than malnutrition. She also spoke of the 1.2 million Australian women currently living in an intimate relationship characterised by violence.

Commissioner Broderick’s message was deceptively simple.  Small actions can have a powerful impact.  Sharing a story can change hearts, minds, and consequently, our culture for real improvement.

Commissioner Broderick’s speech was an inspiring reinforcement to me of the power of storytelling, which is one of Ogilvy PR’s underlying tenets.  We can all play our part for social change.

Georgina Morris, Account Director Ogilvy PR Health

Victorian Election Wash Up

December 1, 2014 by  
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Yesterday’s Victorian election result was nearly 60 years in the making. For the first time since 1955, Victorians have removed a first term government with Daniel “Dan” Andrews and his Australian Labor Party (ALP) taking the helm of the nation’s second largest state economy.

A highly disciplined and targeted campaign with an ability to motivate grassroots supporters delivered a 3% swing to the ALP who appear to have secured a likely 48 seats to the Coalition’s 39 seats. The election of Green’s candidate, Ellen Sandell, in the seat of Melbourne has made history for the party (their first seat within the Victorian Parliament) and a second seat remains within reach.

While the result was considered a foregone conclusion for many; it’s the voting in the upper house that has put a smile on many political pundits’ faces. A wide range of minor parties including the Shooters, Fishers, Country Alliance and Greens are likely to hold the balance of power after the ALP fell short of a majority. This will add an additional level of complexity for the ALP to navigate in legislating its agenda.

First priorities for the Premier-Elect

Following the heady celebrations of last night, Premier-elect Andrews has woken up to reality and the sobering thought that it appears easier to win an election than to effectively govern in the current economic climate. Victoria owns the highest unemployment rate on the mainland and faces a tapering economy with thousands of jobs to go in the manufacturing industry alone. A growing population is placing additional pressure on infrastructure such as roads, public transport, schools and hospitals at a time when the budgetary pot looks empty.

Chaos is one word to describe the likely Upper House that the Premier-Elect must successfully navigate in order to meet the community’s expectation that things will change for the better.

Within the industry space, the Premier-elect Andrews has a number of commitments to meet including:

  • Establish a $100 million fund to support the creation of 100,000 full time jobs by providing payroll tax relief to companies hiring unemployed Victorians.
  • Create the Premier’s Jobs and Investment Panel of industry leaders to provide direct advice to the Premier on the expenditure of $500 million for jobs and investment.
  • Establish a $200 million Future Industries Fund to support job-creating projects in six identified high-growth areas, including pharmaceuticals, new energy, food and fibre, and international education.
  • Establish Infrastructure Victoria to identify and priortise infrastructure needs; and Projects Victoria to deliver them.
  • Set up Start-Up Victoria, a $60 million body to bring the most promising and innovative ideas to life through business case development, investment attraction and intellectual property advice.
  • Increase the funding and resources for Victoria’s leading research institutions.
  • Commission a review by the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission to recommend new procurement guidelines for innovation, research and development.

The immediate focus for the Premier-elect will be:

  • Ministerial responsibilities - Finalising his ministerial team with an announcement expected later this week.
  • Public Service reshuffle - Changes are expected to the Victorian Public Service in the form of structural changes to agencies as well as their leadership.
  • East West Link - Releasing the contract details for the East West Link with the aim to convince industry and the public at large that the road is not the number one infrastructure priority for Victoria.
  • Back to Work Act – Finalise the policy ready for introduction into Parliament during the first sitting week, which is expected to be brought back before Christmas.

The Opposition must regroup

“It’s time for renewal, it is time for change.” With that, former-Premier Denis Napthine stepped down as the head of the Victorian Liberals – a position he only held for some 630 days. The result is a further example that removing a first-term Premier without explanation is likely to hurt you at the ballot box. More importantly, the result demonstrates that the electorate wants action and measured improvement, and is increasingly likely to dump governments who they see as unable to make a marked improvement – and do so quickly – no matter the leader’s popularity.

The majority of next generation of Coalition rising stars have managed to hold their seats resigning this election result to a potentially embarrassing road bump rather than longer-term damage. Former Treasurer, Michael O’Brien, and former Minister for Planning, Matthew Guy, appear to be in a two-horse race for the leadership. They must learn the lesson from this result that Opposition is more than holding the Government to account; you must present real policies to the electorate in order to be seen as a government-in-waiting.

The big question is whether the Liberal and National Parties will move forward as a Coalition, or as separate parties, following the news that the Nationals will review the agreement following the party’s ‘grim’ campaign performance, which has seen them lose at least one seat.

A shudder will be felt in Canberra . . . and Sydney and Queensland

The reverberations from last night’s result will be felt all the way up the Hume Highway into Canberra as well as within the two Coalition-governing states of Queensland and New South Wales who both face the electorate next year for the first time since coming to power. The size of the buffer in these states means that a change in government is unlikely, but a comparable voter backlash would provide both governments with a fright, and a difficult second term.

While state issues dominated the campaign, there can be no doubt that voters have struggled to isolate their concerns and hostility towards the Federal Government, its Budget, and its recent political performances, which will strike fear into the concerns of an already-fretting backbench.

Parliamentary Secretary, Josh Frydenberg called the result a ‘wake up call’ and stated that there are ‘some very serious lessons’ with the party set to ‘go back to the drawing board’. At first glance, the Federal Government may just wish to survive the last sitting week of the year this week, and then take a deep breath when they consider that the next Federal Election remains two years away.

Peta Lange – Associate Director Parker & Partners


Senator Lambie suspension likely to cause headaches

November 19, 2014 by  
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The cracks have turned to chasms as Palmers’ not-quite-so United Party succumbs to its own inner turmoil. Somewhat spectacularly, Party Leader Clive Palmer this morning suspended Jacqui Lambie’s rights to attend future party meetings (noting that she’d already missed the past three). At the same time he also demoted her as the Party’s Deputy Leader and Deputy Whip.

The tensions started to emerge publicly back in August when Senator Lazarus attempted to quell any suggestions of a rift when he told reporters “It’s just a load of rubbish …Jacqui and I are tighter than ever….We love each other deeply.” Astute political observers could not help but see such words as evidence that there was trouble in paradise.

The tension within the Party has clearly been brewing for some time, and finally came to a head last week when Senator Lambie criticised her PUP colleagues on ABC 730. That same evening Lambie’s chief of staff Rob Messenger was expelled from the party for what Clive Palmer calls his “disruptive influence” and for making “false and misleading statements” about PUP Senators, while Palmer himself dismissed Lambie as “a drama queen”. Lambie removed the PUP logo from her website, leading to speculation that she may choose to resign from the Party and follow the lead of Senator Madigan who in September resigned from the Democratic Labour Party to operate as an Independent. Such a move has today become the odds-on favorite.

If (as looks increasingly likely) Lambie defects and becomes an independent, what will be the repercussions?

Firstly, there is some legal issues to be considered. Senate practice suggests that should a vacancy arise within a Party, that position must be replaced by another member of that same Party. Senator Madigan was able to work around this point, and there will certainly be discussions and investigations underway both in Lambie and Palmer’s offices to work out logistics as far as PUP is concerned.

More significant will be the impact on the Senate vote as the Coalition attempts to have its legislative changes passed through the Upper House.

The Senate comprises 76 positions. The Coalition hold 33 of those seats, Labor hold 25, and the Greens have 10. That leaves 8 seats in the infamous “cross bench”. Assuming The Greens continue their practice of voting with Labor, the Coalition will require 6 of the 8 crossbenchers to vote with them to pass legislation, while Labor will require only 4 of the 8 to block.

The crossbench had been considered as comprising three separate voting “blocks” where Bob Day (Family First) and David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats) vote together; John Madigan (Independent) and Nick Xenophon (Independent) vote together, and Ricky Muir (Motoring Enthusiasts) votes in a block with the three PUP Senators. The PUP block has already broken as Ricky Muir proves his capacity to think for himself and, with Lambie, pulled away from the PUP position and added their names to the disallowance motion which is likely to unwind the Coalition’s changes to Labor’s Future of Financial Advice reforms.

If/when Lambie splits from PUP she will be confirmed as a free radical who will be unlikely to vote in a set block but will bounce toward any position where she feels her vote will win a better deal for her state of Tasmania. Her statement that “I just want to do something that is positive for Tasmania,” will surely to ring loud in the ears of the likes of Minister Christopher Pyne who will be doing all he can do woo her vote, PUP or no PUP, in his quest to see his higher education reforms passed into law.
By Michael Hartmann, Parker & Partners

Executive women gain tips on building their professional profile

November 11, 2014 by  
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Susan Redden Makatoa, our very own Group Managing Director – Corporate at Ogilvy Public Relations, was Executive Women Australia’s latest Masterclass speaker, sharing her tips on a critically important issue for women – raising our professional profile.

Drawing from her own experiences, which includes over 20 years working in corporate communication, change and advocacy roles, Susan assured the audience that everyone has a story to tell.

Urging women to stop being selfish and by reminding them they have a responsibility to share their experiences and knowledge, Susan provided her tips on how to do this.

Her three rules of thumb to those that want to build their professional story in a credible way are:

1. Get amongst it –  grow your circle through channels such as Twitter, conferences, professional groups, LinkedIn, NFP boards and alumni committees.

2. Be generous – help others out without expecting anything in return; and

3. Make yourself useful – make sure your story is authentic, delivered in a way that makes sense to others (no corporate bingo), and is meaningful and useful to your audience.

A mother of four young children, Susan is not immune to the time pressures facing many women. She handles this by what she calls ‘sweating the assets – making her content work across multiple channels. So, if she writes an article for an industry newsletter, you can be sure she’s also shared it via her social media channels to expand her credibility and reach.

Given the notes being taken during Susan’s presentation, we expect to be hearing more professional stories from women soon.

Arli Miller – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy PR

Microsoft boss urges executive women to disrupt the status quo

October 20, 2014 by  
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All eyes were on one of Australia’s most successful executives and passionate advocate for workplace gender equality, Pip Marlow – Managing Director of Microsoft Australia – at Executive Women Australia’s latest Masterclass.

Drawing on her own experiences, Pip delivered a lively, interactive and often candid presentation that included insights on gender equality in the workplace. From the onset, her message was clear that each of us has a role in disrupting the status quo and help female executives achieve their full potential.

She began by acknowledging progress has been made over the years, including legislated maternity leave, women in government and examples of mentoring programs, organisations embracing diversity principles and targets.

However, she continued, Australia’s pace for change is slow – a sentiment and frustration shared by many in the room.

Across the economy women are still underrepresented. Labour force participation by women in Australia has slipped to 52nd globally. Only 10.1 per cent of key executives in ASX200 companies are female. Women still earn less than men – $238.20 less per week and the gender pay gap is actually increasing.

Her opinion for the slow pace of change is threefold. Firstly, an unconscious bias exists in the workforce, in which incorrect assumptions made about women are accepted rather than questioned. Secondly, everyone needs to be accountable for diversity – not just the leadership. Lastly, the majority of workplaces still weight achieving the bottom line as its most critical target, not achieving diversity.

So what can we do?

Pip’s advice is that we all have a responsibility and a role to disrupt the status quo – change will not happen if we sit around.

Gender equality and diversity targets need to be part of daily workplace conversation – we need to speak up in conversations about business targets, results, performance and promotions. We need to hold people accountable.

We can’t leave this fight to others. Every day, in work places across the country, there are opportunities to advance the conversation, to start building.

Pip finished her presentation with a point that is often forgotten and a strong applause from the audience – women’s issues don’t just concern women. They are issues for us all.

EWA Chair and Ogilvy PR Group Managing Director, Corporate – Susan Redden Makatoa thanked Pip for her generosity to help further the careers of executive women and expressed our company’s pride in working with Microsoft.

Arli Miller, Director – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy Public Relations

Don’t get stuck in your chair

September 4, 2014 by  
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Megan Caulfield, Senior Strategist Ogilvy Impact

Keeping people glued attentively to their seats was not a hard ask for The Hon Helen Coonan at last week’s Executive Women Australia Masterclass session. But for the former Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate, women need to avoid languishing in what she terms the “sticky chair”.

In discussing ‘How to know when you’re executive ready’, Helen stressed not to wait until you feel confident and equipped for a role.

“Be recognised for the right reasons,” she said. “Don’t hang back. Put your hand up for the tougher gigs and you’ll be the obvious choice for jobs down the track.”

In reflecting back on her career it’s clear Helen definitely didn’t wait for opportunities to come to her. She turned down a partnership in a top legal firm taking a “sideways” step by start her own legal business. When taking on the Wentworth pre-selection battle in 1995 she proved she didn’t step away from a challenge. Even though she did not win it was clear her skills and presence were noticed. The year after she was elected to the Federal Senate.

So what are the key attributes she sees as essential for women moving to the C-suite?

Leading from the front, inspiring people to come on the journey and being able to authentically communicate the direction were identified as key qualities that will help women move up the ranks.

But the key message she wanted women to remember was that different times call for different leadership skills and there’s a need to continually develop and adapt once reaching the top. “That’s what will give you the x-factor … the ability to adapt to complex demands.”

However, she stressed you can never entirely be in control. Juggling the work life balance act is an “extreme sport” and for Helen she is a big believer that you can have it all but not necessarily at the same time.

“You need to look for organisations that carve a space for family commitments both for men and women,” she said. “You need to embrace who you are and the lifecycle you are at. And it’s important to remember there are always opportunities further down the track.”

Now enjoying director and advisory roles for organisations including Crown, the Snowy Hydro and JP Morgan, Helen could never be accused of getting stuck. She has had three diverse career paths and passionately believes she has a responsibility to not kick the ladder out from behind.

“I’d like to be remembered as someone who created a pathway for others,” she said.

Looking at the audience writing down her tips, there’s no doubt she’s inspired others to keep moving forward.


Women in media teach us a confidence trick or two

August 4, 2014 by  
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‘Intimate’, ‘honest’ and ‘real’ are all good ways to describe last Wednesday night’s discussion on ‘The Confidence Trick’ – the MEAA’s latest networking event in Sydney for #womeninmedia.

There were few in the audience who weren’t nodding in agreement when Angela Priestly, founding editor of Women’s Agenda and author of Women Who Seize the Moment, confessed to having suffered imposter syndrome. This is the inability to recognise your own competence while feeling – despite all evidence to the contrary – like a fraud. Priestly said she spent years waiting to be confident – in business, in life and as a mother. She questioned why women are so much more likely to talk themselves down when compared to their male counterparts and asked what women can do to change this.

The panel – Chris Bath (Anchor, Channel 7), Kate Torney (Director of news, ABC), Sunanda Creagh (News editor, The Conversation) and Catherine Fox (Journalist, author and former AFR columnist) – took up the challenge and ran with it. All of these women – successful by any measure – revealed they had faced their own confidence issues and freely shared advice for overcoming them.

Surprising the audience, the panellists referenced moments in their careers where they challenged their skills and ability. When Torney’s boss called her into his office at one point, she thought he was fishing for her opinions on her male colleagues. Instead, he offered her a promotion. Bath thought a request for a meeting from her boss had something to do with her hair. Sunanda noted that nearly all of those itching to get their opinions onto The Conversation were men and urged women to push harder to get their point of view up in lights.

Acknowledging they had developed their own confidence tricks, the panellists passed on their tips.

A few takeaways:

  • recognise the skills you have and step up when those skills are needed. Some humility is okay though (phew). Knowing what expertise you don’t have is also a strength.
  • be persistent if you don’t get the outcome you want from a negotiation the first time
  • put yourself out there – you have nothing to lose but everything to gain
  • women should back each other – mentor, speak up when discrimination occurs.

After the panel discussion, questions came in fast and furious. The audience wanted to know: do you need to act like a bloke to build confidence (no), how do you come across as assertive without being a bitch (practise) and is it possible to step back for a while to focus on family and still get ahead (possible and probably preferable but Australian business still has a cultural problem with this so don’t expect it to be easy).

Ogilvy Public Relations Australia was pleased to attend this event as part of its partnership with The Walkley Foundation to promote and highlight press freedom and equality, as well as campaigns around the advancement of women working in media. Diversity and inclusion are part of our DNA and we are proud of our own workplace commitment.


Arli Miller, Director – Parker&Partners/Ogilvy Public Relations

Executive women power up online networking

July 18, 2014 by  
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It was standing room only at an Executive Women Australia lunch in Sydney on Friday, a testament to the pulling power of good company, a good lunch and the widespread desire to get more out of LinkedIn

Tara Commerford, LinkedIn’s head of communications for Australia and New Zealand was the speaker at the EWA workshop event, sponsored by Ogilvy Public Relations.

The event was billed as LinkedIn’s Seven Secrets to Career Success Workshop and Tara delivered as promised and then some, with a lively discussion rounding out the formal proceedings.

LinkedIn now has 300 million members worldwide – including six million in Australia. It is the social media platform where our professional lives play out.

So, how do make sure your LinkedIn presence is acting in your favour? Once Tara took the stage, the tips tumbled out.

She urged the audience to take control of their executive profile. Substance and style are both important given profiles with professional photos are 14 times more likely to be viewed.

On the sometimes vexed matter of connections, we were assured it was quality not quantity that mattered so invest time in professional online networks by connecting with people that matter and leave the ‘my network is bigger than yours’ argument to the men.

Passive is boring so  contribute to relevant debates, stay on top of leading ideas, and don’t be shy of making your voice heard by posting and sharing updates. Join some groups and once you are comfortable with your own brand, think about your company’s. Put a human face to it by sharing activities and milestones.

We all know that being a couch potato is bad for your health and it turns out to be a bad career move as well. Tara urged the crowd not to get stuck in a comfort zone but to keep moving and to consciously promote adaptability, now a prized commodity in a fast moving world.

Even if many of us underestimate the impact of our online presence, employers do not. Seven out of 10 businesses have rejected a job candidate because of information found online.

After Tara’s presentation the questions came thick and fast: how do you get a 70 year old boss to take control of his own profile? How should one manage endorsements and what about LinkedIn business pages?

Tara handled every question with aplomb which, given she was, in true executive style, jetlagged, was particularly impressive. Ogilvy PR’s Susan Redden Makatoa, who chairs the EWA Advisory Panel, spoke for the room she delivered a heartfelt thanks.

Emma Connors, Senior Media Strategist, Ogilvy Public Relations


Doha to Sydney and everything in between

June 26, 2014 by  
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Three weeks ago, myself and a colleague were in Doha with our client at Al Jazeera English, and we all had high expectations that the journalists Peter Greste, Mohamed Fadel Fahmy and Baher Mohamed would soon be released from their Cairo prison cell because the evidence against them seemed so flimsy and capricious.

On Monday those hopes were dashed when Australian Greste and Canadian Fahmy were sentenced to seven years gaol, with Egyptian colleague Mohamed picking up an extra three years for having in his possession a spent bullet casing– a trifling souvenir that is apparently evidence of his further guilt.

During our short stint in Doha we met with senior executives across the network, including Al Jazeera English managing director Al Anstey, a journalist with impeccable credentials and track record across the globe.

Anstey and the entire organisation have been deeply concerned about his team ever since their arrest 178 days ago.  All for what Anstey tasks his journalists to do every single day, which is to be “bold, challenging and fearless” and giving a “voice to the voiceless.”

Sister network Al Jazeera Arabic director of news Ibrahim Helal gave us insights into the social, legal and political dynamics within Egypt that have caused not just the three journalists to be imprisoned, but also many others that face far worse punishment under the new regime.

Both networks strive to uncover those stories that people want to remain hidden.  Greste and his colleagues have been victimised for doing their job in Egypt in what Anstey has characterised as a political show trial that “defies logic, sense, and any semblance of justice.”

As a PR agency we are often tasked to help drive causes and issues that drive commercial imperatives for our clients.  However, during the past 179 days, we’ve had a higher calling.

Since the journalists’ arrest we have been supporting the far more important social principle of press freedom in Australia and across the world, because that is an essential ingredient of strong democracies and political accountability.

We’d urge everyone to support Al Jazeera in its efforts to uphold press freedom and seek the immediate release of the Cairo three.

Emilio Robles, Howorth Communications / Ogilvy Public Relations


Ogilvy Public Relations Sydney team supporting #freeAJStaff


A Letter to America’s CEOs: Gender Parity Is an Economic Imperative

June 13, 2014 by  
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Ogilvy PR CEO Chris Graves pens a letter on Time Magazine’s website to the CEOs throughout America, stating the importance of gender equality and how business improves when female leadership in the workplace is prevalent.

Dear CEOs and business leaders,

As the size and global span of corporations have grown over the years, so too has their commitment to social change. Heightened competition coupled with a more sophisticated and demanding consumer has led to increased innovation, enhanced corporate social responsibility efforts, and in turn, greater value for both business and the communities they serve.

From poverty to education – our global corporate community has made significant inroads to drive social awareness and inspire a call to action for greater progress and prosperity. But for all the good we have accomplished together, it seems that some of the biggest challenges still left to tackle can be found within the walls of our own institutions.

Read more here.




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