Look past the condom jar and see the real problem

yasmin quemardSouthern Cross Austereo’s Perth boss Linda Wayman’s comments on work-life balance and handing out condoms to staff have made international headlines. SheSays Sydney head Yasmin Quemard argues these issues don’t just affect women, but the industry as a whole. 

My sole purpose in this response to yesterday’s article is to reset the conversation.

Firstly this is not a discussion around motherhood it is discussion around parenthood. This is not a female issue this is a people issue. People have babies. People bring up children.

Secondly let me deposition any preconceived assumptions before you read on: I am not a woman having a go at another woman.

Thirdly, let me give you some context to my personal situation, as this is a personal response. I am a woman in my late thirties who would like to have children. In not directly experiencing the challenges of work/life balance specific to parenthood, I have called upon the wise counsel of people in my life who have – Ellie Rogers, Denise Shrivell, Jane Huxley and Linda Wong.

Their thoughts and opinions echo some of the words below, and you will hopefully go on to see Linda Wayman is not the enemy. Nor is she a dinosaur or a legend. She is an emotional woman without context in yesterday’s article. She’s highbrow click-bait in disguise for us all to predictably rant and rave at.

But if you strip away the emotion and cringe-worthy initiatives like the condom jar and the Angelina Jolie (demerit) award, you can see the beginnings of a rational and empathetic point around how we must address some very important challenges: the structural and business implications of employees becoming parents, work-life balance and the equality of domestic duties.

This is the point where I would like you to reset the conversation. People striving for work-life balance is not new news, neither is the fact that most women still do the majority of tasks on the home front.

If we can spend 60+ comments ranting, raving and disagreeing with one another lets spend another 60+ working out what the solutions are. It’s actually in your best interests. In our industry one of the biggest issues we face is the retention of talent in the market. Condom jars and comment-filled vitriol aren’t going to fix that.

So what will?

For starters let’s address work-life balance as an evolving beast that isn’t about having it all in a day but over a week, a month, a year. We should empower ourselves and others to think of achieving balance as less about getting through the to-do list and more about having clarity of goals and setting boundaries.

Let’s turn this conversation and others into change. What can your organisation do to become a better working environment for parents? Is your paternity and maternity policies online so potential parents can begin discreetly actioning their path into parenthood and re-entry into the workplace? If it’s not online, get it live today.

How can we better support agencies so that when their talented people become parents the structural changes and the business implications that come with it don’t seem like impossible mountains to tackle? And can we not include clients as part of the solution – what can they do to better support agencies with parents?

What Linda Wayman did yesterday was start an important discussion. I’m asking you to continue it with positive and constructive suggestions of what we can do.

If you’ve still got something to rant about like the condom jar, email me and let’s talk over coffee. Let’s reset this conversation to become one about what you can do. First person to post a negative comment gets a condom filled with glitter, so watch out!

  • Yasmin Quemard, leader of the Sydney arm of SheSays



Audio from the Mumbrella Perth talent and culture session. Wayman’s comments can be heard from 33 minutes in.


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