As we reach the end of 2020, it’s timely to shine a light on gender equality, the improvements that have been made around the world and what the future holds?
While some societies have advanced, across the globe there’s a resounding sentiment that more needs to be done, particularly as COVID-19 has dialled back some recent gains. The same is true for workplaces. Boards and leadership teams continue to strive for gender balance, recognising the economic imperative is considerable. Companies on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) 200 Index have female participation on Boards at 31.9 per cent, as at 31 July 2020.
In the United Kingdom (UK), companies on the Financial Times Stock Exchange (FTSE) 350 Index will achieve one of their diversity goals with women fulfilling 33 per cent of Board seats, by 31 December 2020.
Leading companies in the United States, Asia and Middle East follow with females occupying between 19-23 per cent of Board seats.
Turning the spotlight to BG&E’s General Counsel, Jennifer Lord, we discover more about gender equality.
Growing up Jennifer wanted to be a doctor, but her parents suggested a career in law, as she loved books and was eager to walk in the footsteps of her grandfather (who was a lawyer).
She is passionate about justice as it generally translates into fairness. Jennifer believes, “The law helps to create societies in which we can live harmoniously. It inherently connects actions, interests and accountability and is a powerful instrument of social change.”
From a workplace perspective, she suggests the law serves as a framework to guide how companies are governed and do business.
During her 25-year career, Jennifer has worked in the private and public sectors, for regulators including the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, has held senior leadership roles and for the past nine years has worked for BG&E.
She has also completed special engagements for the West Australian government (specifically, investigations into human behaviours and ethics) and undertaken study with the United Nations, which focused on international law.
Over time, her role at BG&E has evolved from reviewing and negotiating agreements, to greater involvement in risk management, insurance, dispute resolution, governance and general problem-solving, across various jurisdictions.
When asked about her proudest achievement, Jennifer says, “Firstly, striking a healthy work/life balance, which shows my three daughters that a fulfilling career and a wonderful family life are possible.
“Secondly, expanding the delicatessen of legal services through which the BG&E legal team adds value.”
Jennifer highlights how women bring a different perspective to workplaces, “I believe in balance and inclusivity. Increased balance on Boards and leadership teams reflects society and is crucial for building a sustainable future, for today and tomorrow.”
Being an empowered female leader takes effort and grit, and with that in mind, she completed a scholarship for the Catherine McAuley Award, a leadership course for women and she enjoys the knowledge and wisdom of great female mentors.
She has served as the legal member of The Mount Hospital Ethics Committee, has held a Board role in education, helped to establish a charity and is currently involved with the Telethon Kids Institute.
She currently participates in The Society of Construction Law, Consult Australia’s, Roundtable of General Counsel and Commercial Managers, and a consultant’s roundtable of general counsel and senior lawyers in the UK.
Jennifer reflects on her career and when asked, what advice she would depart to her junior self she says, “Keep calm and carry on.”
BG&E’s Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee has a mandate from the Board to guide the business to become a diverse, healthy and mutually-rewarding workplace for all. This requires curiosity, bravery and trust, and is within our reach.