Before You Negotiate A Pay Rise…

The Gender Pay Gap for Australian women is irrefutable. But what is it for individual women? How does any employee understand what they should be paid? In truth, most people don’t know how to evaluate their worth objectively, which leaves them to negotiate (or not) based on what they feel they are worth.

The Gender Pay Gap is currently 18.8% in Australia. The implications are as complex as the contributing factors. One of those implications is that as women, when we don’t know our market value we can assume that we’re being underpaid. Sure it’s statistically possible: but without credible evidence it becomes very personal. You risk feeling undervalued and disengaged and your employer risks feeling bullied.

‘One confronting challenge in determining your salary is that it’s more about what the job is worth than it is about what you’re worth.’


Well if money is very important to you, you should target industries and roles that pay handsomely. If you’re moving from financial services to aged care for instance, you should expect a dip in pay.


This one is the most obvious. You could speak with a niche recruiter. Be sure it’s someone who knows their market well, rather than a ‘flick and stick’ transient recruiter who covers all roles and all industries. An experienced niche recruiter will be able to share insight into the salary range you can expect for your job type. This is generally going to be industry specific and affected by location.

The implied advice here is to nurture your relationships with good recruiters!

Recognise that there should be a win-win: you may need them to recruit for you or find your next role and they can provide you with excellent market intelligence.


If you don’t know the credible recruiters in your market, find them. It’s an investment. Like a shortcut? Consult the Hays Salary Survey. The beauty of this annual document is that it’s divided by industry, by level of role and by location.

You’re not looking for an absolute dollar figure here, you’re looking for a salary range. If you’re being paid above the range, consider whether your job title could do with adjustment.

Some time on Google will fairly quickly uncover job descriptions for any role. Feed this information back into your salary enquiries.


Recruiters can help with this too, but you’ll need to be able to articulate what you do for them to translate that to a market value.

Recognise the difference between responsibilities and achievements. Achievements are generally things that you did that sit above and beyond the normal expectations of your role. Perhaps you’re responsible for executing a certain task but you additionally created processes that wiped 3 days per month from that task. You can calculate the dollar value of your initiative there.

Or perhaps you overachieved your KPIs by 15% … quantify it. Quantifying your achievements is the factor that helps to determine whether you are an average performer or above average. If you can demonstrate that your performance adds value above organisational expectations, then you’re in a good position to convince that your skills sit at the top end of the market’s salary range.

Performance appraisals have a good deal of benefit for you, right? For many they’re the only time (outside of job transition) that they reflect on what they’re achieved. It’s an excellent opportunity to take stock of what you’ve achieved and to make it known.


Are there lots of you or are your skills in high demand?

If a couple of major competitors have recently moved operations off-shore leaving dozens of highly active job seekers with your skills, you’ll have to work harder to prove you deserve a pay rise.

If the four closest competitors are actively making you job offers on a weekly basis because there are so few people with your skills: clearly you’re in a good position to negotiate.


Not all highly competent people are recognised as highly competent. Not all highly regarded employees are competent!

For sustained credibility across roles, it’s essential that you have the magical mix of competence and the ability to be heard. It’s the 2-part success formula of Executive Presence.

Executive Presence

Be really good at your job and gather evidence as you go. Gather skills along the way in communication, confidence and people management that you can apply to peers, influencers and leaders within the business. ‘Managing Up’ is as critical as managing your team.

These are all skills that are essential for effective leadership: the sooner in your career you can get them working for you, the greater your career trajectory will be.


I’ve heard a LOT of employees say that they’re underpaid, that they do more hours than is reasonable and deserve to be rewarded for it. Long hours is a generally a separate issue to your salary. Let’s assume here that the long hours are not related to poor productivity or a lack of training in particular skills.

If your hours are long and that doesn’t suit you, you should negotiate workload or delegation options.

“I can see how XXX is an important priority. Let me walk you through the other responsibilities I’m carrying right now and you can tell me which is less important. Alternatively, if they’re equally important we can discuss resourcing.”

Alternatively, decide that you’re prepared to do it for a defined period of time. Be vocal and get agreement on that definition.

Perhaps you’re seeking a pay rise as a reward for a hard slog on a particular project. Remember that your salary will reflect what your job is worth, so if you’re taking on a project that is going to demand a higher level of responsibility and extra hours for a period of time, you should negotiate upfront. Agree to KPIs and expectations and get written agreement on the reward for effort and/or outcomes.


We’ve talked about how to find the data, but how do you clear the emotion from what can feel like a very personal conversation? The most reliable solution is to go outside yourself: speak with a mentor or coach. Being prepared with data is incredibly helpful.

Be clear about your expectations and don’t bring personal circumstances into the conversation. This is not the time to mention the favoured holiday destination or kid’s school fees!

“The industry norm for this role is between C and G. I’m being paid D, which is at the bottom end of that range, however my performance reviews, KPIs and customer reviews confirm that my performance is much closer to the top end of that range. I would like you to review my salary.

What information can I provide you to make that easier? What timeframe should I expect for your decision?”


  1. Take stock. Many people don’t reflect on their achievements until they need to change jobs and are subject to situational insecurity.
  2. Know what your skills are worth in the market.
  3. Know how critical your role is to the organisation.
  4. Get your timing right (don’t approach a negotiation the day before a major product launch or catastrophe when all eyes are focused elsewhere)
  5. Be objective. There should be no “I feel I deserve…” involved.
  6. Be confident. Our earlier blog with tips from The Confidence Coach Lisa Phillips can be helpful
  7. Be good at what you do! And be able to talk about it. Nobody will be as aware of your capabilities as you are- they have their eyes on their own stuff.
  8. No business will pay you more than they have to. You’re an employee not a charity recipient. If you want to be paid more money, you need to be able to justify it.


Particularly for women when gender pay inequity is so prevalent in the media, it can be a quick assumption that our individual circumstances warrant a better deal.

I would encourage you to NOT assume. Instead, be empowered to uncover the facts for your circumstances. Gather your evidence and find a mentor or coach who will give you an objective ear, not just agree with you!

If it turns out you are being paid less than the market for your level of skill in the role you’re doing, be smart about putting your case forward. Be prepared and be confident.

Know how important it is it you. Be prepared for a ‘No’: there may be other circumstances going on that you’re not aware of. If your negotiation is met with a no, what’s your Plan B?

Having an alternative will be empowering and will help remove some of the emotion from your negotiations.

Cath Nolan, CEO and Founder of Gender Gap Gone, is an Executive Coach and Key Note Speaker with background in organisational and individual development. With a team of associates Cath launched Gender Gap Gone, enabling organisations to ensure that their diversity goals are translated to a lived reality for all employees and that more women enter and rise through the Leadership Pipeline. With a business model designed to fit around competing priorities, Gender Gap Gone helps more women into the roles of their choosing. Subscribe for  the latest free resources and upcoming Programs, or follow us on Twitter Instagram or Facebook and be inspired to keep your career on your work-day radar.

What’s Missing From Your Leadership ToolKit?

From our MD, Cath Nolan

Despite the individuality of the path to leadership, there is undeniably a central set of skills that need to be acquired if you want to be considered for The Big Chair. At Gender Gap Gone our conversations with aspiring leaders place a great deal of emphasis on Executive Presence. It incorporates credibility and being heard. Success is impossible without both.


Today I want to talk with you about the capabilities required for credibility. What are the must-have skills for a leadership toolkit? Not all who are great at their job will be selected for promotion. Credibility speaks not only to your area of specialisation, but also to a small number of skills that are big on importance for leadership. Here are the essentials.


People Management – Not all of your roles need to at the helm of large teams. Two things are important here. If you’re a large-complex-organisation type of person, then you’ll need to quickly work toward leading large teams if you’re headed for the top. Otherwise the size of team isn’t necessarily the biggest issue. The best people management ability is created in difficult circumstances. Having tough performance conversations with people and equally identifying future starts and helping them rise. Those who master these two people management skills will far outperform the people manager who has always had “lovely teams” with never a conflict to speak of.

Next time you’re dealing with a tricky people management issue, count your lucky stars: you’re having a great, skill-building career day. You don’t lead any people who stretch you? Find a few! Mentoring an employee elsewhere in the organisation is a low-risk, high potential reward scenario if you’re at a loss.

Next time you’re dealing with a tricky people management issue, count your lucky stars: you’re having a great, skill-building career day.

Communication – So you can string a sentence together? You haven’t earned a tick in this box yet. Do you actively communicate with your team? And the one-below team? What about the one-up leaders? Your internal network?

Poor communication is frequently highlighted in exit surveys. Either because the leader (immediate or senior team) hasn’t communicated direction, or because they’re seen as disconnected from the worker bees, or because the workers don’t believe that the organisation can offer them the opportunities that frequently do exist, if only managers were actively engaged in unafraid, two-way conversation with their employees.

You may feel the need to speak more or even to speak less with your team members. I’d like to challenge you to narrow your focus. Improve the quality of questions you ask. Great questions lead to great insight. Without it any talking you do may be missing the mark entirely.

better questions

What can you do, right now, to improve the quality of your questions?

Influence – The ability to influence will help get you into a role and render you far more effective once you’re there. How influential are you? Let’s break it down. Here are three components you can work on.

Preparedness | Communication | Confidence

How do you measure on these? What can you do to stretch yourself on these?

You’re already strong here? Who can you bring along with you?

Strategic Orientation – This one requires an excellent read on your environment. For some it means you’re able to think big and come up with a long-term, broad-based plan. In many organisations though, it means you’re able to follow the boss’ lead and translate a corporate policy into specific, actionable plans. Sometimes a rapidly changing corporate policy!

Here’s a story I’ve been close to on many occasions. An impressive, capable individual takes a “strategic leadership” role within a business claiming to want a new direction, a fresh perspective to reach uncharted heights. The brief is to challenge the status quo. The enthusiastic new leader takes stock, completes some analysis on the organisation, the market, the global trends. Then they deliver their recommendations. The board curls up their collective toes: “We’re not ready for THAT!”

Read your environment. Understand when to introduce innovation in strategy direction and when your input should be confined to (perhaps innovative) approaches to delivering on pre-set strategic plans.

Knowing the difference and investing accordingly will bring a great deal more success and job satisfaction for you.

Financial Acumen – I’ve written about this one before. If you’re heading for a senior role, there is no avoiding the need for sound understanding of the financials. 

You don’t have it? Who can explain it to you? What course can you sign up to?

How will you present it to your boss, so it’s paid for?

You do have it? Who do you know that’s in need of some basic skills in this area and how can you help while limiting your time commitment?

Cross – Functional Awareness – The age of the CEO who started as the accountant and progressed through narrow, financial channels is for the most part very long gone. Many organisations struggle with overly siloed cultures, where divisional leaders have competing KPI’s, competing priorities. Being able to demonstrate partnerships beyond your specialisation is essential for those pursuing leadership progression.

Client Experience – A service orientation is highly favourable at junior levels. At senior levels, it’s important to be able to demonstrate that you’re able to achieve win-win outcomes. That is, you can balance the organisation’s needs with keeping your internal / external client base in a state of advocacy. The more senior the role, the less hands-on your experience will be. Rather, you’ll need to have experience engendering a culture of service, cross-functional interaction, open communication and so on.


If you’re a high-achiever you’ll probably be all over this list of potential developmental gaps you can close.

Take a moment to reflect on your strengths. What do you want to be known for? What are you passionate about? What do you want to make a difference in? How can you have an impact on your team /workplace / industry?

Then what experiences might help you get there? Greater exposure? Training to formalise what you naturally do well? Coaching others to also be strong in your areas of expertise or passion, perhaps?


Each industry has it’s own unique hurdles: the qualifications or capabilities that are valued highly. If you’re not sure what they are in your space, find a mentor or three, do some research and work it out. The fundamental mistake that many aspiring leaders make at this point is to assume they know. Years in the space can cloud your judgement about what’s around the corner. Emergent businesses are impacting whole industries by doing things differently. Look at Uber and AirBNB. What emerging technologies or emerging business trends globally could be impacting the way your industry operates?

How will you do a check on the market trends affecting your industry?

How can you be prepared for those trends?


An MBA may be essential in your market. Or it might not be. If an MBA supports your experience, it’s a big positive. On it’s own it’s not worth much. When undertaking post-graduate studies, be sure that you’re interested in the content and not purely the piece of paper. The paper itself is not a guarantee of success, but if you choose wisely the learning may well be.

Not everyone has the time or resources to allocate to significant leadership programs though.

What alternatives can you consider? Are there leadership programs that interest you, or conferences that broaden your network and introduce you to new concepts?

Yet make no mistake: some paths demand a certain qualification. If that’s you, make it a priority and get it behind you.


We might politely talk about ways to get around the business structures that hinder promotion opportunities. In reality there are women who have navigated that path before you. Others are doing it right now. The female executives I’ve met have these above skills in spades. They are highly respected, highly effective and apparently effortlessly successful.

Understand that you have the power to make it too. Tap into mentors or even resources to help you navigate internal barriers.

eBook image with FREE DOWNLOAD 250x400

Download the eBook here.

If the skills you have are not recognised by your organisation, find a way to be heard. If they simply don’t value the same behaviours that you do, find a new direction. But perhaps get a second opinion on them first.

If it can be avoided you don’t want to throw away time invested and a brilliant opportunity if it really just comes down to one dodgy boss.



Cath Nolan is the MD & Founder at Gender Gap Gone  as well as Director of CN Consulting. An Executive Coach with a strong background in all areas of individual and organisational development, Catherine is passionate about the impact of individual empowerment in seeing the Gender Gap Gone. Subscribe to hear the latest free resources and upcoming programs, or follow us on Instagram / Twitter / Facebook for resources and inspiration.

Do You Find It Difficult To Be Confident? With Lisa Phillips, The Confidence Coach

From Lisa Phillips, THE Confidence Coach

Do you suffer from a lack of confidence or self-esteem? If so, you are not alone! As a coach with over 15 years’ experience, this is one of the main issues that I help people overcome during my workshops and coaching sessions.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a Company Director or stay at home mum; a lack of confidence can rear its ugly head in any area of your life and can really restrict you from moving forward, following your passions and doing what you really would love to do.

Take a few minutes now to think about your own life, is there a particular area where you lack confidence or self-esteem? Now consider how this may have held you back over the years. Has it stopped you asking for that pay rise, putting yourself forward for that great job, or has it resulted in someone taking advantage of you or walking all over your kind nature?

Thankfully (with a bit of focus, willingness and a sense of humour!) low confidence is something that can be easily resolved. Confidence is really just like a muscle, you just need to do some work on it daily to build it up! Interestingly, one of key obstacles people encounter when practising to be more confident is that they realise they really have a bigger fear that is holding them back – the fear of what could happen if they do start to change.

It sounds a little crazy but more than often it is the fear of what ‘may happen’ that can actually stop us taking action and moving into confidence. Unfortunately, these fears keep us small and comfortable. More often than not, they actually relate more to how other people will react towards us if we do begin to become a more confident and assertive person.

Some common fears which prevent moving into confidence include:

  • Worrying what people will think if you do speak up for yourself or start behaving in a more confident way.
  • Concern that you will end up upsetting someone else or letting them down
  • Thoughts about other people not liking you any more
  • Strong beliefs about always needing to be seen as a nice person!
  • The fear that we are being ‘ selfish’ in some way

Although staying small may feel more comfortable or the easy option, over time, it often ends up in resentment, frustration and blaming other people for situations we find ourselves in.staying small

Do you end up saying yes to attend functions even though you don’t really want to? Do you feel obliged to do things because you want to be seen as a nice girl or you don’t want to let anyone else down? Do you end up saying Yes when you really mean No?   Ok, it may seem the easier option but at what cost to yourself?   The chances are you will end up feeling resentful or blame other people (and yourself!) for asking you in the first place!

In my blog today, I am going to start with sharing some of my top tips for increasing your confidence and also changing the habit of being a people pleaser. If you think you haven’t got the time or maybe you believe you are too busy, then please think again! Many of these will only take a few minutes of your time or can be done when you are in the shower or perhaps brushing your teeth each morning.

Remember, every little step you take will build up that confidence muscle.

TOP TEN For Increasing Confidence (& Leaving The People Pleaser Behind)

1) Write a list of things that you like about yourself and your positive qualities. These could be the fact you are helpful, creative, traits or the fact that you get things done on time. Make sure you write down at least twenty!

2) Each day affirm to yourself (at least ten times if you can!) ‘ I am really looking forward to feeling more confident’ and I am starting to believe that I am a valuable, loveable person and I deserve the very best’

3) Quit comparing yourself to others. Remind yourself that there will always be some people who have more than you, and some people who have less. Comparing yourself to others will NOT make you feel good about yourself.

4) The next time you feel yourself saying Yes, when you really want to say No – ask yourself who you are trying to please? Then, decide to please yourself instead. If you find it difficult to say No – stand in front of the mirror a few times and practice saying it until it feels comfortable.

5) Try not to worry what people will think if you do say No or act assertive around them. The right people will respect you and your boundaries.   Don’t get into the habit of justifying your decision to them.

6) Remind yourself that you are HUMAN. Release the need to beat yourself up for not being perfect. Vow each day to praise yourself, not criticize yourself. This takes practise but even if you stop yourself from criticising yourself just once then you are making great progress. Why not get into the habit of finding one thing to praise yourself for every time you look in the mirror?

7) If you are surrounded by negative people or energy vampires, this will make you feel bad about yourself and will lower your self-esteem. Re- think the people you hand out with. Are they adding to your energy or draining it? Try to surround yourself with positive and supportive people. This will help you feel better about yourself and this will raise your self-esteem.

8) Each night before you go to bed, think about (or write down if you wish) five successful things you have done that day. This could be as simple as getting to work on time, helping a friend or cooking a healthy dinner.


9) Set yourself a target of saying No at least twice a week. It will be scary at first but after a few times, you will feel empowered and fabulous. Recognise that you may feel uncomfortable after saying No.   Don’t let this feeling trick you into feeling guilty.

10) Make sure you are living your own life and not the life someone else wishes you live. If you feel nervous about standing up for yourself etc, make this one of your mini goals. You won’t develop self-esteem if you sit on the sidelines and don’t push yourself to take risks and new challenges.

Remember, we are all capable of having a strong confidence muscle. In doing the steps above, you will also start to take more risks and be less concerned with making a fool of yourself or failing.

One of the additional benefits is also being less concerned about what others think of you or seeking approval from others. Most importantly is the fact that you will be far more comfortable in your own skin and feel at peace with the wonderful person you really are.


Benefits of Confidence

Lisa Phillips is a Life and Confidence Coach based in Sydney, Australia.   Lisa features regularly in the media and has her own life coaching radio show.   She is also the author of The Confidence Coach book ( Exisle Publishing) .  Lisa also runs workshops at GGG which can be found here

To find out more, please see /

Having The Tough Conversations – With Lorena Healey

If it’s not uncomfortable, you’re not going hard enough

A few years ago, I was in the office of a senior executive asking for advice on a tough conversation I had been dreading. I was planning to raise a sensitive issue with a peer and was looking forward to it in the same way most people look forward to a root canal!

His advice was simple. He said ‘if it’s not uncomfortable, you are not going hard enough’.

I remember thanking him at the time, and privately rejecting the idea that I had to ‘go hard’ to get my message across. I was a believer that being honest and fair does not necessarily mean tough and ruthless and that I could be direct without reducing the person to a withering mess.

The issue I was addressing was related to the way my peer had run a project meeting, and the off-handed way she had treated the team. I knew she was unaware of the impact of her actions, so my feedback was going to be a shock for her to hear.

So, with all of the confidence of someone settling in for a 2 hour dental procedure, I asked to speak with her. We politely dissected how the meeting had gone, and agreed a plan for how the next meeting was going to run. All of a sudden it hit me. Agreeing a plan that might actually address the problem without really having to address why it was an issue in the first place meant I could hover in the safe territory of generalities and abort the more difficult mission.

The truth here is difficult to admit. I’d like to say that the reason I wanted to avoid the tricky bit of the conversation was to protect my peer’s feelings. The honest truth though, is that was possibly 50% of the reason at best. The other half of the reason was that I didn’t want to feel uncomfortable.

I have since worked with many Managers who recognise this scenario all too well. We know intuitively what we need to say, but sometimes the difficulty in actually saying it means we can soften the blow and pull our punches, just at the time that it’s most dangerous to do so.

And so the ‘going hard enough’ advice took on a different meaning for me. It wasn’t the way I needed to deliver the message that had to be hard, it was the message itself.

Here are 3 tips that I share with Managers, to turn this into action;

  1. Plan your message prior to starting the conversation. This only needs to capture what the 2 or 3 key messages are that you need to deliver. If you are clear on the core messages you need to send, you can check yourself before winding up to ensure you have actually said them. Hold yourself accountable to saying them, even if you have danced around them during the conversation.
  2. Ask yourself this: If the person was to leave this meeting right now, and someone asked them to replay what was said, what message would they have received? Would it be the same as the one you had intended to give? If there is any doubt in your mind, don’t end the conversation until you’ve said ‘let me be clear…..’ and ensure you’ve covered your 2 or 3 key messages. This will eliminate any doubt that you have softened the message, and that they have heard it.
  3. Lead with the most difficult bit first. Those that know they are prone to start a conversation softly, and work their way up to dealing with the issue, run the risk that they either run out of time, or abort when things get tough. Remove this risk by ripping that proverbial band aid right off at the start. Lead with, “I need to talk to you about…..’ and jump right in. You then have the rest of the meeting to explore how they feel about it and what can be done, which is likely to yield far better results. And the added bonus is that the feeling of uncomfortableness tends to dissipate once the hardest part is over.

Tough Conversations Infographic

Delivering hard messages is tough but we should acknowledge that as Leaders it’s always going to be part of the gig. Perhaps we need to get comfortable with the knowledge that we are actually uncomfortable because we are doing the right thing.

Lorena Healey

3Here at Gender Gap Gone we look to Lorena as a Guru of Culture and Change, working at both organisational level and with individual leaders.

But in truth her scope is far broader than that. After a foundation in accounting with PWC, Lorena worked in HR for a global professional services firm before migrating to Seek in 2006- then a domestic employment classifieds business. Through rapid expansion in services and geography, Lorena’s initiatives in organisational development, performance managment and talent strategies contributed to ensuring the business had the culture it needed to execute it’s ambitious business strategies. With Seek nudging the ASX top 50 and recognised as a Hewitt Best Employer – still with the magic of a start-up culture, in 2014 Lorena left to create Lorena Healey Consulting.  

Aligning cultures with business strategies, Lorena is a pragmatic organisational development practitioner, passionate about making business better.

The Gender Pay Gap and The Hidden Ism

The Gender Pay Gap in Australia is at the highest level since 1994. 18.8% nationally and a whopping 25.7% in Western Australia.

Staggering though these figures are, rather than dwell here I’d like to talk about solutions.

(But if you’d like a breakdown by location, industry, age and expressed inclination to change, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s fact sheet is well researched and offers insightful slicing and dicing.…/Gender_Pay_Gap_Factsheet.pdf

men named John

Policies that encourage female participation are seen by many as the panacea for getting more women into the leadership pipeline.

Progressive organisations of all sizes are likely to have gender policies in place, even if only as part of broader diversity policies. These policies benefit their customers as much as their employment brand. And yet. There is frequently a disconnect between the corporate policy and the lived reality for many employees.

Organisations who offer flexible work arrangements have managers saying “no that can’t be applied in your circumstances” – to both men and women. For the most part these managers are not intent on being mean or enforcing gender inequality. They are simply accustomed to a conservative model and cannot see how a newer arrangement can effectively deliver results.

The policy may be in place, but the culture is yet to adapt. 

Over coming weeks and months I’ll be speaking with business leaders who have managed to normalise flexibility. If systems are just for women, they’ll be VERY slow to take effect- if they do at all. Many of us are uncomfortable with the idea of some getting an advantage based on anything but merit.

Isn’t that what we’re doing, at Gender Gap Gone? Not necessarily.

Sure, we want to give women en masse a competitive advantage, but not a free ride. Our top-down programs are mostly whole or business solutions. That’s about helping organisations to execute their gender agenda – which also means their diversity plans and smart behaviours, more broadly. The core business practices that negatively impact women in the workplace – such as rigid work arrangements, unprofessional behaviours and the hidden ism (more on that shortly) impact the broader workforce and business outputs.

Power to the Individual

At an individual level, career and support programs have long existed to assist an individual’s development and indeed career trajectory if that’s what they choose. The programs are too often coordinated by middle aged white men who do very well selling programs to the middle aged white decision makers in organisations. Please don’t misunderstand me here. There are a number of men in talent management who are indeed offering progressive solutions and critical thought leadership. There are many senior male leaders in talent management whom I consider one or two among my mentors. But they’re a rare find.

There are also a great many solo operator coaches across career and executive coaching. Their solutions are entirely tailored to the individual and they garner excellent engagement with clear ROI for clients. They however lack a united voice to reach the broader community to enact a change en masse.

The Shift In Career Management

In 2012 the talent management market saw a shift taking form. Previously businesses chose to engage talent providers based on the individuals at the helm and long term relationships. From 2012 the uptake rates started to drop dramatically. Pre-2012 the take up rate for external but business-paid career management programs was in the vicinity of 60% (although closer to 90% during the GFC). Post 2012 it’s not uncommon to see 0-10% take up on a traditional career management program, despite it being paid for by the boss.

Why is that?

In the past career management programs were most often offered during role redundancy. Career Management programs certainly soften the impacts of transition. With so many Australians already having experienced a redundancy or 2 or 3, we’re collectively more robust. Yet the vast majority still feel unprepared in both career direction and self-promotion. Why don’t more people take up the traditional programs being offered to them? Employees are too busy to take time out for the traditional delivery models. Online access reigns supreme.

Online career programs do not provide the full effect.

Without a coach, who can help you apply learning to your own circumstances? Who will stretch you to push further than you otherwise would? Who will hold you accountable so that you don’t give in to the distraction of the day to day? One to one coaching is essential in practically applied development action.

An effective 1:1 coach program will always deliver superior results over an online program alone. But if the only options consumer consider are online vs nothing? We’d prefer to deliver an excellent online program that also offers an affordable, easy-access 1:1 solution when and if the consumer is ready.

At Gender Gap Gone our coach model facilitates ease of uptake as well as workplace flexibility for our coaches.

Our coach team is spread across Sydney Melbourne and London. Just as many working women prefer to focus on development outside of work hours, our coaches like to work odd hours too. Many of them are building their own solo enterprises while others juggle Gender Gap Gone with raising families.

The point is that by creating a delivery model that provides flexibility for our coaches, we also deliver in a way that suits our customers.

Well, that’s to say that our research tells us this suits our would-be customers, perhaps I’ll revisit this topic in a blog some months after we launch and officially have customers!

Normalising Flexibility

Skype is a great enabler. Over coming weeks and months you’ll hear about organisations implementing teleworking as one method of normalising flexibility. The software to conduct meetings remotely is readily available and low cost. For many workers this reduces both their hours and the cost of working. How much time would you save each day if you didn’t need to iron, do a somewhat professional hair and makeup job, sit through traffic jams, leave the office to buy lunch and participate in countless water cooler conversations.

There are 2 key potential pitfalls for employees utilising the remote access model. Connectedness and The Water Cooler.

Connectedness is the easier to overcome: ‘gated’ social media is allowing vast global teams to conduct meetings and conversations. IBM is a great example. Employees are able to take ageing parents to appointments/deliver kids to soccer/attend a charity event mid afternoon, then plug back in or attend an online meeting at 7pm.

Widely discussed, our lifestyles have become busier. Flexible workplace practices allow careers to better integrate with our current lifestyle arrangements as well as global business models. Not only are employees more highly engaged, but the average outputs are greater. (Are you looking forward to that blog as much as we are?)


The danger of the water cooler is more subversive and far more risky for women. I’m referring to the casual conversations that happen in stolen moments, between work time, between meetings. Knowledge is often inadvertently shared amid the ‘How was your weekend?’ talk.

These casual conversations go to the very heart of the ‘other ism’. In speaking with business leaders about the Gender Gap and diversity in their organisations, there is a comment I come across repeatedly. “We don’t have to worry about sexism (ageism/racism etc) here, it’s just favouritism.”

STOP! WAIT! Here you’re describing unconscious bias in action.

For 8 years I worked exclusively in the recruitment industry (from duck pluckers to General Managers, across many industries and multiple countries). Since then I’ve designed and delivered recruitment training programs for small and large businesses. The singular common thread is that when I would ask a manager what they wanted to recruit, their answer was a version of ‘another me’. They would look to their skill sets, their experience and want to replicate it in their future team member. We tend to recruit in our own image.

“please find another me”

Favouritism: Unconscious Bias In Action

There are SOOO many pitfalls to this outlook. A whole team of ‘me’ will likely come very quickly and harmoniously to decisions, but they will be narrow and ill considered. A team filled with one type is unlikely to interact as well with other departments or with customers as if they were more reflective of those other stakeholder groups.

From where I stand, favouritism is the most dangerous of the barriers to gender equality in the workplace. Where the decision makers are largely middle aged and white, these men will proactively have to fight their unconscious bias in order not to hire middle aged white men to follow them.

The very best resourced HR teams cannot prevent archaic attitudes. Like one business I was working for, helping to secure a CFO. Day to day, the organisation was highly progressive. Enter the renegade dinosaur. In interview the silent partner dropped in unexpectedly to participate in the interview with the female front-runner. Early in the interview he bombastically demanded “You’re obviously about that age, you’d be going off to have babies soon, wouldn’t you?”.

The question was illegal. But the damage was done. The candidate was thrown off by the question and bombed the rest of the interview.

Recourse? Why bother? The organisation went from being highly desirable to no-thanks.

We can help organisations to align their gender policies to practice and culture, but we cannot remove the dinosaurs.

The thing is, at Gender Gap Gone we don’t think we need to. At least, we’ll leave that to someone else!

More Women In The Leadership Pipeline

Good business leaders will appoint the best person for the role. If the best person on the day is male, then the male should be appointed. In my time recruiting senior leadership roles, I would have loved to have put more women forward for consideration. There just weren’t more women applying. It’s one of the reasons my move from recruitment to executive coaching appealed to me so much.

Heard the statistic that women won’t apply unless they’re 100% qualified but men will apply if they’re 60% qualified?

Tara Sophia Mohr’s more in-depth look      is worth the read.

What if we could get more women into the leadership pipeline? LOTS more women? Let’s face it, not all women are interested in leadership roles. But if we expose female employees en masse to the tools, competitive language and inspiration to drive their own careers forward… wouldn’t that start to tip the scales? We believe it will.

Back to the water cooler- what can women do about that? It’s the golden goose. While it’s not a woman’s responsibility to create an equitable working environment for herself, there are certainly things a woman can do to raise her profile and to ensure that the projects she works on are aligned to the organisation’s values. And yes, you guessed it, stay tuned to hear more from Gender Gap Gone associates and from thought leaders on proven ways to go about just that.

A word must be said on the very obvious self-indulgence of this Gender Gap Gone intro blog: it’s been all about us and our ideology. We happen to think we’re pretty interesting & that we have a compelling story to tell! In seriousness though, in future articles you can expect to hear from experts, industry leaders and thought leaders. We do believe that with voices trained on solutions, we’re far stronger together.

The Gender Gap issue is complex and so must the solutions be. The Gender Gap Gone team is sure proud to be leading a solutions – focused change. Our business is brand new but our expertise is tested. Our advice is not unique to women, but our model is ideally suited to women and the progression of women.

Whether you LEAD female employees or you ARE a female employee or perhaps you’ve a partner or friend who is one: I hope you too subscribe to the idea that quality information can empower change. Quality information is precisely what we plan to serve up in the Gender Gap Gone Blog. A weekly dose of how-to or inspiration or case studies, from our team and guest contributors.

I hope you’ll join me. Subscribe to the concept? Then please, subscribe to the blog too and pass it on. Like us on or follow us on twitter @GGapGone Join the conversation. We’d love to hear your contribution.

Catherine Nolan is Founder and Director of Gender Gap Gone, gap gone launching in July 2015. Her team of associates are experts in their fields, in the areas of Leadership and Development, Communications, Talent Management, Careers and Consulting. At the time of writing the business is 4 weeks away from launch and yet has already attracted media attention, public acclaim and a number of guest speaking engagements. Catherine is passionate about the positive impacts of self-power in seeing the Gender Gap Gone.