Skip to content

Fair criticism and fair praise for all leaders

   
Fair criticism and fair praise for all leaders
Chief Executive Women Women leaders enabling Women leaders

 Controversy stirs difficult memories

By Sue Morphet

November 4, 2020

 We have high expectations of our leaders, in business, the community and public life. Our leaders need to be accountable and perform at their best.

 

In the past week, we have seen the now former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate becoming the subject of a strident public storm which has caused us again to reflect on what fair commentary is. Chief Executive Women has long advocated for representative leadership. In our view that will mean qualified women in senior roles are part of the decisions that affect all our community.

Former Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate giving evidence to Senate Estimates.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

In exchange, women expect to be assessed by the same standards that are applied to all other leaders, receiving fair opportunity and rewards, respect, fair criticism when it is warranted, and praise based on performance.

Australian company and government leaders get most decisions right most of the time. But sometimes they don’t. The way we react is the community standard to which we all need to be accountable. Every leader in a high-profile role expects to be accountable. Most simply ask that assessment is fair, objective and based on fact, not a social media ‘pile on’ or motivated by a distorted agenda. It’s a topic I feel strongly about, having ‘been there, done that’.

At the beginning of the global financial crisis I was appointed CEO of Pacific Brands, home of much-loved Australian brand Bonds and within months faced the impossible decision to close ten Australian factories, or close the business. With the support of the board and major investors we moved manufacturing offshore. It was tough. Professional criticism was expected. The personal attacks were not and often came from people who knew very little of the financial and operational circumstances in which we were making “least worst” decisions.

The treatment of Christine Holgate has reminded me of that difficult time in my career. The pandemic environment has left many of our leaders worn thin and public fatigue is manifest. But that’s no excuse for denigration and inconsistency. It’s a reason to redouble our efforts to create the society we want for the future.

Australians need strong leaders with proven track records who reflect our community and our expectations. Now more than ever,we expect all leaders to be accountable. In business and public life decision-makers need to acknowledge and back their decisions.

Our challenge is to ensure that leaders are held to account consistently, regardless of who they are.

Leadership is not about vested interests, it’s about fair, balanced and reasonable decisions that take into account performance and outcomes. That’s a business community I, and many other women want to be part of.

Sue Morphet is president of Chief Executive Women.

TAGS

RECOMMENDED
ARTICLES

When it comes to addressing inequality, don’t underestimate the power of leading by example, Full Stop Australia CEO Hayley Foster says. Speaking in conversation with Ann Burns on the first episode of Chief Executive Women’s new podcast, Driving the Equality Agenda, Foster underlined the importance of modelling the type of behaviour that will build a...
Congratulations to our final scholarship winners of 2022, Newland Global Group’s Natasha Jha Bhaskar and Paralympics Australia’s Catherine Clark, recipients of the CEW Governance Institute of Australia scholarship. Natasha is the Executive Director at Newland Global Group, a leading corporate advisory firm with a focus on Australia-India trade and investment relations. Named one of Australia’s...
CEW welcomes another 162 members, increasing our membership base to nearly 1100 talented women leaders. Our growing membership reflects the breadth of talented women in leadership roles in a range of sectors including: not-for-profit, sport, health, academia, government and business across Australia. The contributions of our members play an important role in helping to drive...
In 2021-22 CEW was an influential voice for women, and women in leadership. Despite the impact of the pandemic (or perhaps because of its impact on women), CEW made significant progress towards delivering our vision – an Australia where women and men have equal economic and social choices and responsibilities. Our 2025 Strategy has informed...
The Chief Executive Women Leadership Summit, hosted on Tuesday, 6 September 2022, brought leaders together for an uncensored conversation about what can be done to break through the malaise and achieve gender equality for the benefit of all in Australia. In a day of inspiring discussion and keynote speeches, attendees were left empowered to drive...
CEW is pleased to announce the return of the INSEAD Advanced Management Program Scholarship, which is be offered as part of our Scholarships Program in 2023. One senior woman leader will win this life changing opportunity to take her career to the highest level. The INSEAD Advanced Management Program is designed to help leaders build...
Chief Executive Women (CEW) is pleased to announce that Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz has been appointed President of Chief Executive Women. The appointment was confirmed by the CEW Board at the CEW Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 15 November. Susan Lloyd-Hurwitz, who is CEW’s 19th President, brings significant experience, most recently as CEO & Managing Director of...
Chief Executive Women welcomes the Albanese Government’s Federal Budget and Women’s Budget Statement, which recognise that gender equality is at the heart of Australia’s future prosperity and resilience. CEW supports investments in measures to address cost of living pressures and enable women’s workforce participation, economic contribution, health and safety. READ MORE
21 July 2022, 12AM: The three people tasked with leading scientific efforts for defence in the UK, US and Australia will meet in Sydney today, to discuss how to improve women’s representation in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) leadership roles: Australia’s Chief Defence Scientist Professor Tanya Monro AC, US Under Secretary of Defense for...
In the wake of Enough is Enough, the final report of Western Australia’s parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment of women in the fly-in fly-out (FIFO) mining industry, Chief Executive Women (CEW) is urging all businesses and organisations across all sectors to access free resources it has developed to help stamp out harassment once and for...