JAMILA RIZVI ON LEAD­ER­SHIP, SEX­ISM AND PAY RISES

Jamila Rizvi is a writer, pre­sen­ter and com­men­ta­tor. She writes a weekly po­lit­i­cal col­umn for News Lim­ited and ap­pears reg­u­larly as a com­men­ta­tor on Chan­nel 10, Chan­nel 9 and the ABC. Her first book, Not Just Lucky, a ca­reer man­i­festo for mil­len­nial women

Business First - - WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP -

Can you tell us about your lead­er­ship jour­ney? I started work­ing quite young. While at uni­ver­sity, I was in­volved in stu­dent pol­i­tics and was Pres­i­dent of the Stu­dent Union for a year. Af­ter that year, I was very ea­ger to stay in full time work and I ended up get­ting a job in Prime Min­is­ter Kevin Rudd’s of­fice. Later on, I was Deputy Chief of Staff to Min­is­ter Kate El­lis where I gained ex­pe­ri­ence in man­ag­ing the strate­gic goals of a min­is­ter’s of­fice. Then I went into the me­dia and was Ed­i­tor-in-Chief of Ma­mamia dur­ing a pe­riod of high growth for the pub­li­ca­tion. I saw com­mon­al­i­ties in be­ing a good leader across in­dus­tries and from my time in pol­i­tics I had gained a back­ground in be­ing a good leader, a good team leader and a good man­ager. What is the most im­por­tant thing that you have learned in your ca­reer? I learned to re­alise that I was not al­ways right. When we are new to lead­er­ship roles, we of­ten think we need to be the one with all the ideas and all the so­lu­tions. I came to learn that my way was not al­ways the best way and that I need to lis­ten to my team. What key prin­ci­ple has been most fun­da­men­tal to your suc­cess? Recog­nis­ing the im­por­tance of sta­bil­ity and mak­ing peo­ple feel safe. It is es­sen­tial for any­one work­ing in an or­gan­i­sa­tion, and re­ally im­por­tant that lead­ers recog­nise this. Cer­tainty and pre­dictabil­ity are what al­lows us to take risks. Hav­ing worked in pol­i­tics and me­dia have you got any­thing to say about what it is like for women in these fields? I speak about pol­i­tics and the me­dia in my book Not Just Lucky, but sex­ism ex­ists across all in­dus­tries and is a real chal­lenge for Aus­tralia. Most in­dus­tries are gen­der un­equal in terms of work­force com­po­si­tion (ei­ther mostly male or mostly fe­male) but re­gard­less of whether there are more men or more women over­all, the po­si­tions of power are nearly al­ways held by men. A good ex­am­ple of this is ed­u­ca­tion in schools, where most peo­ple in the sec­tor are fe­male but prin­ci­pals are usu­ally male. Your book fo­cuses on how Aus­tralian women are so used to be­ing over­looked and un­der­val­ued in the workplace that when they ac­tu­ally do make it, they are in­clined to think that it is down to luck. Can you talk more about this? The the­sis that I put for­ward in the book is that women are of­ten in­clined to say “I was just lucky” when they ex­pe­ri­ence suc­cess. This is down to so­ci­ety, both men and women, hav­ing a prob­lem with suc­cess­ful women and this is some­thing that our cul­ture as a whole needs to work to over­come. Can you tell us about the struc­tural dis­ad­van­tage that causes prob­lems for women in the workplace? The way work­places are set up dis­ad­van­tages women. The cur­rent sys­tem was built by men for men over a hun­dred years ago when it was not even re­ally con­sid­ered that women would en­ter work­places in the fu­ture. This sys­tem val­ues the

way men are so­cialised over the way women are so­cialised. There is a fo­cus on com­pe­ti­tion over col­lab­o­ra­tion and merit goes out the win­dow. Can you tell us about an ex­am­ple of gen­der dis­crim­i­na­tion that you have faced your­self in your ca­reer? In my book, I talk about my ex­pe­ri­ences of this work­ing in pol­i­tics. For in­stance, there were marked dif­fer­ences in the tasks fe­male as­sis­tants and male as­sis­tants were given. The fe­male as­sis­tants were asked to do things like pick­ing up dry clean­ing and do­ing the prime min­is­ter’s makeup but the male as­sis­tants were not. Even so, I know that my ex­pe­ri­ences are not as bad as those of some oth­ers. Some of the sto­ries I have heard from other women are of aw­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion and bias. Not to men­tion sto­ries of sex­ual ha­rass­ment. The re­cent al­le­ga­tions in­volv­ing men like Har­vey We­in­stein and Don Burke show that sex­ual ha­rass­ment is not just down to a few cul­prits or only an iso­lated prob­lem. It is a prob­lem through­out our en­tire so­ci­ety.

What ad­vice would you like to im­part to our read­ers?

My book has very prac­ti­cal ad­vice about how to op­er­ate more ef­fec­tively, one of which is the nine steps to ask­ing for a pay rise. The one step I think is most im­por­tant is fo­cus­ing on why you de­serve a raise rather than why you need one. Women have a ten­dency to jus­tify why they need a pay rise. For ex­am­ple, talk­ing about the cost of liv­ing or want­ing to buy a house. Yet it is more ef­fec­tive when ne­go­ti­at­ing with em­ploy­ers to fo­cus on why you de­serve a pay rise. For ex­am­ple, talk­ing about how you have in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity since tak­ing on the role and the value this has brought to the or­gan­i­sa­tion and that is why your salary should be raised. Jamila Rizvi is a writer, pre­sen­ter and com­men­ta­tor. Jamila’s first book, Not Just Lucky, a ca­reer man­i­festo for mil­len­nial women, was pub­lished by Pen­guin in 2017.

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