Tuesday night, four-hundred people packed the Sydney Town Hall for the tenth annual Diversity Council Australia Debate. Sponsored by MAX, the debate saw two teams work their way through the topic ‘Is it time to move on from gender equality?’
The affirmative team put the position that it’s time to move on from gender equality, because if we are not ensuring equality for everyone, it’s not equality at all.
The negative team argued that far from time to move on, it is time to double down on gender equality, by making sure we take a far broader approach to how we think about it.
Before long it became clear that this debate would find common ground that there was more to do to achieve gender equality – but there would be no equality unless the approach we take to gender is much more inclusive.
Moderated masterfully across the evening by Tony Jones – teams unpicked intersectionality, inclusion and personal experiences of the speakers provided insightful examples about where we have come on gender equality, where we need to go and who has been left out.
Speakers both for and against made fantastic contributions:
“We don’t have time to get one thing fixed before we move on to the next – who decides who gets the next seat on the diversity bus? We can’t move away, we can’t give up, we have to have a more mature, more caring and ethical approach to diversity and inclusion”. Deborah Homewood, Managing Director, MAX.
“Gender equality encompasses all people – including those who experience intersecting forms of discrimination and disadvantage. It is inclusive, not exclusive. And the gender equality we are talking about is that people of all genders can enjoy the same opportunities.” Mary Wooldridge, Director, Workplace Gender Equality Agency
“Women’s rights have progressed but striving for gender equality is not enough. If your feminism is not intersectional, it is not inclusive and we are missing important voices and ignoring important issues. The gains we make must be for all, not just for some. Focusing on gender alone is inadequate.” Carly Findlay OAM
“I am proud to say I am a self-made man, and when people see me today, I am on the top of the patriarchal food chain until people find out I am trans – and then all that goes out the window.” Zac Cannell, Therapist, Trainer and Activist
At the end of the night, the audience called the debate for the negative team who had argued it is not time to move on from gender equality. But in the end, continued efforts and doubling down on gender with a far greater focus on being more inclusive won the night.
Quotes attributable to Lisa Annese, CEO, Diversity Council Australia:
“The DCA Debate is a special night on our calendar of D&I events, where we take a critical look at a D&I issue through the format of a debate. It’s a night where we can unpack D&I issues and explore nuances that are not always included in broader discussions.
“At Diversity Council Australia we consider the structural and dynamic intersections in our research and our work and tonight’s debate only reinforces why that continues to be important.
“The work of diversity and inclusion is ongoing and changing and it’s not something to move on from, rather to build on.”
“Our annual debate is an opportunity for us to reflect on where we have been, what next and how can we be even more inclusive, because that’s good for organisations, it’s good for employees and it’s good our community.”
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Diversity Council Australia is the independent not-for-profit peak body leading diversity and inclusion in the workplace. We provide unique research, inspiring events and programs, curated resources and expert advice across all diversity dimensions to a community of 1100 member organisations. Our member organisations are estimated to employ nearly two million Australians, representing about 20% of the workforce.
MAX provide employment, training and health services to over 125,000 customers in 150+ locations across every state and territory in Australia.
MAX Employment delivers employment support through programs including Disability Employment Services (DES) and Workforce Australia. As an RTO, MAX Learning delivers vocational training across a range of industries as well as English language and literacy programs. MAX Health provides businesses and individuals with access to professional allied health support and medical expertise through a range of services and programs.