Issue 377: On why women want respect, and why it’s sustainable

Image: Alice Donovan Rouse
Image: Alice Donovan Rouse

In a survey of workplace attitudes released this week an overwhelming 80 per cent of women ranked “respect” as the most important thing to have in their workplace. Eighty per cent. And it ranked ahead of equal pay or even an interesting job.

Now isn’t this so revealing? The survey and the word kept resonating. By Thursday, International Women’s Day, it was appearing big in headlines.

One of the authors of the survey of 2100 women and 500 men, Dr Elizabeth Hill, told Fairfax Media the finding came as a complete surprise.

“We didn’t think that that was going to come out on top,” she said.

But why is it so interesting? When you think about it, the word is particularly special. And powerful. It’s both noun and verb, both process and outcome. If you have respect and you respect others, it’d be hard to have a war with them. If you have respect for someone, you don’t exploit them, you don’t belittle them, you don’t use subliminal messaging to remove their agency and influence how they are to live their lives.

We’ve had the word respect used in the context of violence against women. But it’s in the context of the every day that you start to see its revolutionary potential.

Mutual respect means mutually agreed decisions that take account of context, impact and responsibilities for results.

When you think about it, respect can be, finally, a word that can be substituted for sustainability.

Like sustainability, it’s hard to draw the line on where your respect begins and ends. It’s a commitment to people, place and even inanimate objects. If you respect “things” you’re unlikely to throw them in landfill.

If there are still people out there looking for an alternative word to sustainability because they’re bored or because the politically powerful still don’t like it, then try this one.

Cool offices are hot

The value and desirability of more sustainable offices is high on our agenda right now as the deadline for our first ever Brisbane event comes up on 27 March, entitled “Bring Your Office to Life”, in collaboration with CitySmart.

CitySwitch’s Esther Bailey has alighted on this topic in her Spinifex contribution this week to urge that the coolest offices, co-working spaces for instance, also push sustainability as a service that is just as desirable as the ping pong table and other drawcards.

Nice idea. And really important now that 20 per cent of co-working spaces are occupied by corporates.

Investa moves up a notch

On Wednesday night we were lucky enough to join in festivities for the opening of Investa’s new office at 420 George Street.

It looked great. Elegant, airy spaces, bathed in natural light and a lovely organic feel and smell.

The public spaces at entry level are stunning, open homely lounge areas, work tables for visitors and meeting rooms and boardrooms all deferring to stunning views.

General manager corporate sustainability Nina James was kind enough to provide a guided tour. Up elegant stairs we went, guided by tactile timber railings, round and soft to the touch – James proudly showing off a bank of private work rooms where you could close the door and which you can’t book, with no time limits (with staff trusted not to abuse the system).

Around the corner we turn to the open plan spaces – hot desked, yes, but in neighbourhoods, so that people can form clusters and a sense of belonging.

James shows off long tables for special project work and meeting rooms with “bum bars” for those who want to stand but give their backsides a rest. The technology, she says, is splendid. You just plug and play and within seconds you can be talking to the boss in the Melbourne office.

But the most impressive part of the fitout is a dramatic soaring space filled with light, which is reserved for the staff kitchen and open eating areas with a giant screen able to connect staff from around the country for a special meeting or address from the CEO.

The previous tenants reserved this space for the board, James notes, but here it’s the staff that get the best space.

And a bit about us

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