Interviews explore gender equity in local government

The nation’s peak body for local government professionals has published a series of interviews with senior executives from councils across Australia detailing their insights into gender equity in the sector.

The publication contains interviews with six women and five men in senior local government positions throughout Australia who share their thoughts about the meaning of gender equity in leadership, barriers to achieving it and insights into their own leadership journey.

They also unpack how Covid-19 has affected the push for gender equity.

I think women may have been given a few more opportunities from COVID because it has allowed for working from home and for more interaction via Zoom.

Deb Larwood – District Council of Kimba

The resource was released on March 8 to mark International Women’s Day, and contains interviews conducted over the last two weeks.

“Our office is releasing this document on International Women’s Day not just to celebrate the progress the sector has made, but to explore what still needs to change,” Local Government Professionals Australia CEO Clare Sullivan said.

Gender equity in a pandemic

Views are mixed about whether the pandemic has been good or bad for equality in the workplace, although there’s general consensus that while the pandemic has highlighted inequalities in the workplace it has also paved the way forward.

Several, like the CEO of SA’s District Council of Kimba Deb Larwood, said they felt the creation of more flexibility to work from home had been positive for women.

“I think women may have been given a few more opportunities from COVID because it has allowed for working from home and for more interaction via Zoom,” she says.

Jen Bednar

Casey City Council’s Director of Customer and Business Transformation Jen Bednar speaks frankly about being in lockdown with three young children, saying it was “possibly one of the most stressful working experiences” she had ever had.

“I can normally get myself into the mindset for work, and it really
highlighted to me that you can’t ask people to be doing two, three, fifty things all at once,” she said.

“I think the pandemic has been both a door opener but also a kind of mirror on what is really, necessary for people to be able to thrive in their

Gender equity targets

LGPro Australia announced last December it was pushing for a gender balance of 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men, and 20 per cent of any gender in local government leadership roles by 2025.

“There is an expectation that local government be truly representative of the communities it serves,” president, Victoria MacKirdy said.

“Achieving gender balance at that senior level is one step toward expanding the diversity and equity of representation our sector needs.”

The organisation says it will soon release a toolkit with resources to help local governments reach leadership targets and nurture emerging leaders in their organisations.

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