Women must put themselves forward

When Carol Schwartz just had her fourth child she was offered a top job at the Property Council of Australia. She took it and why not? That’s what...

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Carol Schwartz is a highly successful businesswoman and philanthropist and a big believer in women pushing themselves to achieve personal greatness.

“You have to sometimes take risk and expect failure,” she told a group of women at an Association of Financial Advisers event to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

“Women need to put themselves out of their comfort zone … if you are given an opportunity, you have to put yourself forward,” she said, adding that she remembers asking herself at times, “what have I got to lose.”

Speaking to the group she added that there are three things that women in business could be doing better, to help encourage greater female participation and leadership in the workplace and to help advance gender equality. That is to:

  • Be role models
  • Stand shoulder-to-shoulder with male colleagues in business and family and;
  • Be seen to be exercising power and influence.

As a champion of gender equality and women’s leadership – among other things – Carol’s resume and awards read like a roll call of achievements for a small country, let alone the one person.

She is currently founding chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia as well as a non-executive director of property group Stockland and Bank of Melbourne and founder of the Schwartz family’s Trawalla Foundation, which gives out grants and scholarships in the arts and education and social enterprises.

On the issue of money, Carol believes that women need to become financially literate and stop delegating these tasks to men.

“It is so important for women to be seen a financially literate,” she told the gathering of mostly financial advisers, adding that it was in fact “critical” and that they had an important role to play in making this happen.

She said it’s still often the case today that women, even those who are wealthy and business savvy, still ask their male partners for permission to buy things.

“Very often women take a back seat in exercising financial power.”

With three daughters of her own, Carol also believes that mothers too have a responsibility to ensure that their daughters feel confident to ask questions about money.

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