Smart bosses ignore gender

THE nation is doing its latest round of soul-searching over women in the workforce - they're paid less, it's difficult for mums to get jobs, and employers aren't showing the flexibility required.

According to the Australian Human Rights Commission's website, the pay gap between women and men is 17.5% right now.

Media has traditionally been targeted as one of the most chauvinistic of industries. We're told there haven't been enough female editors and no mother with an ounce of care for her newborn wants to come back doing 50-hour weeks chasing ambulances.

And that leaves plenty of opportunity for smart employers.

In a previous role, as editor of a national Sunday paper in New Zealand, I almost went looking for mums wanting to return to the workforce. I'd contact them, offer  part-time work, flexibility around the days they could work, and make sure the money stacked up.

The result? At one stage almost half of the newsroom were mothers just glad someone had made it easy for them.

They worked extremely hard, seemingly to prove flexibility could work in the employer's favour. As mums, they knew 'family issues' stories that I knew would appeal to readers. I was able to hoover up some great talent that had been set to walk away from journalism because of how tough people were making it for them to return.

At Australian Regional Media, five of our 12 daily editors are women and there are two very smart ones on the editorial management team.

It's not been through any plan - they've just been the best qualified to get the jobs.

But employers who don't think laterally about their hiring will limit their chances of getting the best talent.

And just to prove I'm not under instructions on gender equity: Why should there be equal prize-money at Wimbledon when the men play best of five sets, and the women only three?

- Bryce Johns is the editorial director of Australian Regional Media.