Australia: Myer’s Bernie Brookes warns against ‘reverse discrimination’

“You’ve got to be careful not to add a quota with X number of females or X numbers of people from a different ethnicity,” he told the audience at the CEDA event. “That in itself breeds the wrong habit and the wrong way forward. You have to be flexible whether it’s male or female employees.”

Myer chief executive Bernie Brookes has advice for our politicians: Don’t force companies to pay a levy for a mandated paid parental leave scheme and don’t expect them to introduce quotas.

The best way to encourage women into leadership positions is to allow companies the freedom to come up with their own internal processes that make “commercial sense”.

Speaking at a Committee for Economic Development of Australia women in leadership event in Melbourne on Friday, Brookes said Myer, one of the largest private sector employees with more than 12,000 staff across its 68 stores, was one of the first companies to introduce a paid paternal leave scheme.

Most Myer customers are female, so “it seems quite smart to link our customer base to the employee base”.

Almost 80 per cent of Myer’s staff are female; 66 per cent of women employed at Myer hold leadership roles and 33 per cent of the company’s board of directors are women.

But Brookes says using quotas to try to encourage more women in leadership positions could have disastrous consequences.


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