Institute of Managers and Leaders delivers day of important debate that inspired and influenced

 May 09, 2019

Staying true to its proud history of advocating for increased inclusion in the Australian workplace, the Institute of Managers and Leaders Australia and New Zealand (IML ANZ) held its 22nd Great Debate event series on International Women’s Day.

Since 1998, IML ANZ has supported the global IWD initiative by hosting fun but thought provoking discussions that contribute towards achieving better equality.

Institute of Managers & Leaders - International Women's Day

Supporting a vision of a truly equal society

These debates are designed to celebrate the importance of gender diversity in the workplace and throughout society. That sentiment is at the heart of the Institute’s position: inclusion matters. By investigating, discussing and advocating for older workers, young managers, gender diversity, LGBTQI leaders and greater cultural diversity, IML ANZ continue to advocate for real change and diversity in Australia.

In the lead-up to the events IML ANZ chief executive expressed his thoughts on achieving balance for all. Pich said, “Right thinking men need to be there to support women in the push for gender equality. That struggle isn’t a one-sided battle; we are stronger fighting inequality together.”

IML ANZ held debates in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney plus luncheons in Toowoomba and on the Sunshine Coast. All up, more than 2,400 professionals in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney came to hear business leaders debate the provocative topic, “Her aspiration needs his cooperation”. Meanwhile in Toowoomba and on the Sunshine Coast, attendees discussed the IWD theme.

Regarding the selection of discussion points at these events, board chair for IML ANZ, Ann Messenger FIML said, “Every year, the Institute crafts a debate topic that attempts to encapsulate society’s and the corporate world’s contemporary discussion about women and gender equality.”

Messenger is also encouraged that these discussions are moving in the right direction. “We’ve come from ‘women want it all – work and family’ in the 90s, to ‘heels have a rightful place in the boardroom’ in the 00s, to ‘the future is female’ just last year! It’s clear that in more than two decades of topics, Australia has moved steadily from debating if we’ll achieve gender equality to how we’ll accomplish it together,” she said.

Inspiring change while having fun 

Institute of Managers & Leaders - International Women's Day

The debates were hosted by beloved Australian personalities Corinne Grant (Brisbane), Jo Stanley (Melbourne) and Tracey Spicer (Sydney). Meanwhile, two teams of strong and passionate local leaders engaged in a fun debate about feminism and the future. In Brisbane, the affirmative team won the audience’s popular vote, while Sydney and Melbourne attendees voted in favour of the negative teams. Across all cities, no matter the winning team, the attendees’ message couldn’t be louder or clearer: it’s time for equality!

Not only were the events a fabulous way to celebrate women in leadership during IWD, it was also an opportunity to support an important charitable cause: creating a nation that allows every woman to live in safety, free from all forms of abuse. IML ANZ’s charity partner White Ribbon raised an enormous $48,750 at the events - with all funds raised dedicated to domestic violence primary prevention. These initiatives are implemented before violence against women occurs and aims to stop the likelihood of men and boys using violence against women and girls.

Events that made a mark – in more ways than one

Institute of Managers & Leaders - International Women's Day

Attendees, debaters and even the hosts at these events all expressed their belief in the impact IWD is making.

Australian television icon, author and TEDx speaker, Tracey Spicer, who hosted the Sydney debate was full of optimism about IWD. In an article about the events that was published on the online magazine Collective Hub, Spicer said, “True diversity and equality is good for everyone, from the workplace to broader society. I think IWD will go down as a landmark event, celebrating these advances and building for the future.”

For the chief operating officer of FCW Lawyers and Melbourne event debater, Karen Luu AFIML, it was an experience that left an impression. “I will always look back at the IWD Great Debate as a fun and memorable event. It was profoundly rewarding to work closely with passionate leaders across diverse backgrounds, to celebrate women’s achievements and advocate for ongoing progress and change,” said Luu.

Institute of Managers & Leaders - International Women's Day

However, the real impact of the events could be felt where old ways of thinking were challenged, and openness prevailed. Business advisor, mentor and Sunshine Coast luncheon attendee, Rick Wells FIML admitted, “I’m in the class of ‘old school’ males and never ever thought that I would be attending a women’s event ...I was extremely taken by the event and thoroughly enjoyed it. I have two daughters struggling through life (one works in a male-dominated industry) and now I have a better appreciation of their individual challenges. My youngest daughter accompanied me to the event and we share and relive the stories told during the luncheon.”

A vision coming to life, an important topic that was tackled with enthusiasm and an impact that made a lasting impression – these make the Institute’s events a genuine success. It’s no surprise then that IML ANZ’s International Women’s Day Great Debate events have become institutions in their own right.


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