THE Bendigo Business Council’s leadership lunch is becoming a much anticipated annual event.
With each year and every guest speaker, the Bendigo business community is challenged to think differently and draw on the inspiration of others to reach greater heights.
In a coup for the city, the BBC has this year secured former prime minister Julia Gillard for the October 26 lunch.
Ms Gillard’s visit to Bendigo is not a time to let political persuasions cloud judgement on whether to attend.
Regardless of your political views, Ms Gillard has a wealth of knowledge to share with our business and broader community.
Many will want to hear the country’s first female prime minister talk about leadership, particularly in a gendered sense.
But as Ms Gillard herself said during her final speech as prime minister, her gender “doesn’t explain everything, doesn’t explain nothing, it explains some things’’.
She noted: “I've been a little bit bemused by those colleagues in the newspapers who have admitted that I have suffered more pressure as a result of my gender than other prime ministers in the past but then concluded that it had zero effect on my political position or the political position of the Labor Party. It doesn't explain everything, it doesn't explain nothing, it explains some things. And it is for the nation to think in a sophisticated way about those shades of grey. What I am absolutely confident of is it will be easier for the next woman and the woman after that and the woman after that. And I'm proud of that.’’
It is fair to comment there were many shades of grey, and Ms Gillard attracted a degree of criticism not experienced by male leaders.
There are lessons in that for all of us – and we can only hope one of the key messages taken away will be that women and men are each capable of performing all roles, at all levels. And perhaps we can draw on some of the challenges faced by Ms Gillard to ensure we continue to support women in leadership.
Ms Gillard will share share her experience of negotiating with leaders at a global level, and there is much to be learnt from this. Her insights can inspire and guide local businesses in ways they may never have considered.