Watson: why we should watch women win

New Zealand women continue to achieve success in all fields – from business to arts to science to sport. It’s time for all New Zealanders to feel it’s no longer unusual for a woman to succeed in any way she chooses – and be championed doing so. There is a new normal and it’s good for all of us.

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It’s been said celebrating another person’s success will never rob you of your own. If we want to accelerate change, we need to celebrate achievements, shine a light on positivity and tell these stories – often, loudly, and proudly.

“This isn’t about women supporting women; this is about all New Zealanders acknowledging the need for practical solutions to help lift women up.”

ANZ is committed to helping New Zealanders get ahead in their lives through our vision to help shape a world where people and communities thrive. For women, showing up and getting to the starting blocks, let alone reaching great heights, can represent a ‘win’. Research tells us confidence, fear of failure and fear of judgement stop women holding space in sport but it’s not a stretch to think these limitations hold many women back across the board.

There’s a huge amount of work to be done to find ways that enable, empower and encourage women to fulfil their professional or personal aspirations and dreams - which uplifts us all, socially and economically. But, until now, we haven’t had much New Zealand-based research that delves into some of the solutions to the common barriers to success cited by women.

As a long-time supporter of women in sport, including our recent announcement as a sponsor of the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022, we’ve undertaken a significant piece of research into barriers to women’s participation.

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The research findings in this report show clearly if we can all ‘watch women win’, the flow on effect has the potential to inspire participation and achievement across sporting, social and business endeavours, not to mention a shift in overall wellbeing, something we have also committed to as an organisation – whether financial, physical or mental.

I firmly believe this isn’t about women supporting women; this is about all New Zealanders acknowledging the need for practical solutions to help lift women up by encouraging and empowering them to strive and win in all aspects of life.

The findings of this report show a need for companies of all shapes and sizes to step up. Employers have an opportunity to use their influence and leadership to celebrate and champion our Kiwi women in all fields and our research respondents told us mentors and role models play a big part in the lives of our wāhine toa.

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By ‘watching women win’ we can shine a light on and celebrate achievements experienced by women – from the top sporting echelons of the Olympics and Paralympics, to women who are winning everyday by making it to the gym, pursuing their side hustle or returning to study to improve their whānau’s future. By doing this, by having an action-orientated approach applied to everything we do, we can all make a difference to this generation of New Zealanders and those to come.

On a personal level, working within the ANZ team has meant I’ve been inspired through the hard work of others over some incredibly challenging years. Their dedication to looking after our people and communities has made me a better leader.

I’ve been supported by key people in my career and my journey to take on my first CEO role: my husband unwaveringly supports my dreams, offers me a safe place to download, keeps me grounded and gives me perspective; my mother still inspires me as one of only a handful of women to be admitted to the High Court in the 1960s; my colleagues who champion my successes and encouraged me to put my hand up – sometimes even putting my hand up for me.

As a member of Global Women, I’m fortunate to be surrounded by a bevy of supportive, inspirational and like-minded women who have shared failures, lessons and successes to help me overcome my many doubts.

This research shows fly-by-night campaigns to tell people off or highlight past injustices, pitching men against women, isn’t the answer. Instead, celebrating girls and women in their daily successes and wins is a better approach.

As one of the country’s largest employers, we’re committed to help create change and make a difference for the next generation of New Zealanders.

At the centre of the research findings is the idea that visibility is important: “If you can see it, you can be it”.

We need to be optimistic and celebratory in our encouragement. The manifesto in this report sets out how we plan to make this our new normal.

I encourage you to join us in standing beside the girls and women in our lives and champion them daily in big and small ways – whether it’s a gentle encouraging hand on their back to guide them forward into a new opportunity, enabling them to give sport or other activities a go or being their biggest fan cheering from the side line.

Antonia Watson is CEO and Group Executive – New Zealand at ANZ

Click here to read the full Watch Women Win report

The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.

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