FAQs about the Property Male Champions of Change

1. Why is the strategy exclusively about men? 

The Property Male Champions of Change were inspired by the Founding Male Champions of Change, convened by then Federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick AO, calling on men to step up beside women and drive gender equality in their workplaces. 

The Male Champions of Change (MCC) strategy is about men.  We know that women’s activism is largely responsible for, and remains essential to, progress. However, the levers of power in nations and in organisations today, largely rest in the hands of men. Engaging men will drive and accelerate the change on what is not a women’s, but rather an economic and social issue. 

The MCC strategy is not about men speaking for women or “saving” them.  The strategy is about men stepping up beside women and saying, “The promotion of gender equality is everyone’s business.” It’s about men stepping into the role they can and should play in creating change.

2. How can women leaders be involved?

Women’s leadership is essential.  Women are critical collaborators and advisors.  However, the accountability for action in the PMCC strategy rests squarely with the men. 

Women’s Leadership Institute of Australia (WLIA) Founding Chair and former National President of the Property Council Carol Schwartz AM is the Convenor of the Property Male Champions of Change and the initiative is has been co-directed by WLIA’s Executive Director, Amy Mullins since formation to June 2016. Recently Amy has transitioned to an important role advising the Male Champions of Change Strategy and Community of Practice. She will remain involved in the high-level management of the PMCC strategy. The group therefore benefits from the strategic guidance and support provided by WLIA.

Following the succession of Carmel Hourigan into the CEO role of a PMCC member (Global Head of Property, AMP Capital), Carmel joined the PMCC strategy as a Special Adviser. Carmel is working closely with the Convenor to shape the agendas and share her expertise with the group. She is also continuing to drive the strategy within AMP Capital. 

Chief Executive Women (CEW), Australia’s pre-eminent organisation representing Australia’s most senior women leaders, have partnered with the Founding Male Champions of Change. CEW members facilitate high-level discussions with the men.  They also were co-creator of the Leadership Shadow model. 

Gender equality experts, both women and men, from time-to-time supported Male Champions as they deepened their understanding.  

For example, leaders from the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (the Australian Government’s statutory agency charged with improving gender equality) have assisted the Founding MCC Group in analysing data and progress.  

Finally, Male Champions work closely with women throughout their organisations to gain insights and ideas to accelerate change. 

3. How can other men be involved?

Men are equal partners in every sense. They are colleagues, brothers, husbands, partners and fathers that all have a stake in advancing gender equality.

Ultimately, we believe gender equality challenges will be best addressed when the most diverse views and perspectives are engaged and applied to help solve them. 

Engaging men specifically enables us to understand their ideas and perspectives, how they believe change will impact them (positively and negatively) and what they would do to tackle the problem. 

There are some great new resources for men at #LeanIn Together (www.leanin.org/together) which offers practical every day actions individual men can take to promote equity in the workplace and at home.

4. Why are you focusing on gender equality specifically, rather than diversity more broadly?

We already have a society that advantages men. When we focus on gender equality we capture over 50% of our population.  Gender equality is the starting point. Organisations that don’t work for the majority of the Australian population will never work for the minority groups. 

Many of our initiatives, for example, improving flexibility for all employees, clearly help to provide greater options and choices for everyone.

Valuing and promoting inclusive leadership capabilities – be they among women or men – is an intervention that benefits all.

Many of our member organisations also have specific initiatives for other underrepresented groups.

5. How were the Property Male Champions chosen?

In establishing the Property Male Champions of Change, we have strategically assembled a group of men who lead the industry’s national organisations.

The Property Male Champions have diverse experience, perspectives and access to resources that will underpin the development of innovative actions and solutions.  All have the ability to lead, influence and affect change and inspire change amongst others. 

Male Champions of Change must be personally committed, have the motivation and willingness to listen, learn and visibly lead on the issue and be accountable for their progress. 

6. How is the initiative funded?

The Property Male Champions of Change is funded by the Property Council. In-kind support is provided by the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA) and EY.

7. What happens at a Property Male Champions of Change meeting?

PMCC meetings are structured similar to any high-level group focused on tackling a significant business problem.  Another comparison might be to Board or Committee meetings of any well-governed organisation.  Meetings are planned at least one year in advance with specific objectives for each meeting.

The Convenor opens the meeting and refers to minutes and actions arising from the previous meeting. Absences are noted and recorded. 

Some time is spent reflecting on context and developments (for the group or within the community) since the last meeting. 

From there, the agenda focuses on moving through the various stages of the PMCC strategy. Briefing papers on a particular issue/Action Group findings might be discussed.   Members might share their insights and progress on an issue, initiative or opportunity they are pursuing.

Time is also spent discussing specific challenges faced by members of the group. Here experiences are shared and ideas generated. 

The meetings also include a focus on progress to ensure the group is meeting its objectives and improving performance on the gender equality measures they are seeking to advance.

8. What are you going to do?

The Property Male Champions’ focus in 2015 was on “Listening and Learning,” to inform the group’s plan for action. “Listening and Learning” represents one of the most important elements in the Male Champions of Change strategy. It involves deep exploration and personal engagement to build understanding of the issue from a range of different perspectives.

To this end, the Property Male Champions focused on understanding the facts, relevant research (including the EY and the Property Council report on gender diversity in the property industry), existing frameworks and what has and has not worked in the past.  

The group reflected on the impact of their leadership on gender equality, engaged with women peers, gender experts and their own employees – women and men – to gain different perspectives on the issue, new ideas and potential solutions. A total of 48 focus groups were conducted by PMCCs in their organisations. EY distilled the results into a report which formed the foundation for the development of the PMCCs action groups.

Through this work, the Property Male Champions identified six areas of action

  • Own a Leadership Action Plan
  • Lead on Gender Reporting
  • Grow the Talent Pool
  • Mainstream flexibility
  • Break the Boys' Club 
  • Enable workers to be carers

In June 2015, the Property Male Champions divided into Action Groups aligned with the six areas above. They developed ambitious and practical plans for each group with a view to publishing a report on progress a year from now. The Group have agreed to adopt shared actions for each of the groups.

The Property Male Champions have established a Charter, in line with the guiding principles of the founding Male Champions group, which articulates their commitment and the standards to which they hold themselves.

9. Why is the listening and learning personally led by the Male Champions?

Even the best qualitative and quantitative research  - while informing – is no substitute for the ‘head’ and ‘heart’ connection that comes from personal engagement through the listening and learning phase.

It’s also powerful to hear well-known, but sometimes abstract, concepts of gender equality translated into the day-to-day and very human experiences of individuals and specific groups.

Benefits of leading this approach include: gaining a very deep understanding of how gender equality issues impact men and women and an organisation; developing a language and stories that enable leaders to articulate the issues and convince others of the need for action.  The commitment to listening also demonstrates how personally engaged you are in responding to the issues; and the power of applying a CEO-lens to issues that have otherwise proven intractable to solve. 

10. Are there specific commitments that all Property Male Champions of Change are expected to support?

Regardless of the specific gender equality issue being tackled, there are some commitments that are consistent amongst all groups establishing themselves as Male Champions of Change. These include:

  • Changing workplace conditions, cultures and mindsets to enable both women and men to advance equally within our organisations
  • Working to increase women on our boards, executive committee and in line management.
  • Recruiting, developing and retaining diverse candidates as a priority.
  • Developing workplaces where health and safety are prioritized and all forms of violence in the workplace - including verbal, physical, sexual - and sexual harassment, are prohibited.
  • Sharing experiences and strategies for advancing gender equality across corporate, government and community sectors.
  • Being spokespersons for the promotion of gender equality, both individually and collectively.
  • Assessing and publicly reporting on our individual and collective progress and results on gender equality, consistent with local and global leading practice reporting frameworks.

New groups are also invited to adopt successful initiatives of the founding Male Champions of Change.

11. Do the Property Male Champions have to commit to participating in all agreed actions?

Ideally yes. Taking action rather than talking about the issues is a cornerstone of the Male Champions of Change strategy. Credibility is established, conviction is clear and momentum builds faster when all leaders participate. 

The power in the Male Champions of Change strategy is the collective commitment to some key initiatives across all group members.

Sometimes this is not possible. For example, differing operating approaches, organisational maturity or size may stand in the way of participation by all on a certain action. Differing governance structures between the public and private sector or local and multi-national organisations may also prevent participation by all in a few cases.

In all cases, the Male Champions strive to participate to the extent to which they have the authority and influence to do so.

12. What if the major issue to address is outside the Male Champions’ ability to influence?

This is likely to occur, particularly on systemic issues that require involvement from multiple sectors and leaders if change is to be achieved. 

Here, Male Champions work to understand the issue deeply, particularly from the perspective of their employees, customers and the communities they serve.  They take action where they can directly influence outcomes and work individually and collectively to advocate for change with other key stakeholders.

For example: the founding Male Champions of Change have taken this approach on the issue of quality, affordable, accessible and flexible childcare in Australia. In addition to working within their organisations to improve flexibility and parental support, they joined calls for an Australian Productivity Commission Inquiry focused on Childcare. When that eventuated in 2014, many provided submissions either individually or through representative bodies for their sector. 

13. How will you track your progress?

We use leadership approaches that are applied to any significant organisation priority. We review our baseline metrics, agree to targets, develop action plans to achieve them, measure and correct.

Some challenges and opportunities are harder to make progress on than others. This is true of any business problem – and increasing the representation of women in leadership is no different.  

When progress isn’t being made, we apply the typical business toolkit.  We look at key metrics.  We look at what is preventing progress from multiple angles.  We intervene or re-set the course where needed. We share our experience widely so that others learn from our experience and avoid mistakes or missteps we have identified.

14. Won’t gender targets mean women will be appointed to meet a quota rather than on merit?

It is widely accepted that greater diversity creates better business outcomes so it is reasonable to apply measures to achieving diverse workplaces. As stated by one of the Male Champions ‘What gets measured gets done.”

It is a common concern that setting targets for gender means managers will put less qualified women in roles.   As stated by one of the founding Male Champions “The idea that gender equality will put the wrong people in jobs is rubbish. There are more than enough great women for roles." No leader will appoint an unqualified person for a role.