When Rachel Petero mentioned the lack of diversity at business conferences to friend Jo Cribb, they both wondered, “what can we do about it?”
The answer was simple if a little surprising: write a book.
“We thought, ‘let’s put the advice of a whole range of amazing women into a book that people can have as an essential resource for $30, rather than paying hundreds of dollars to attend a conference’,” Mrs Petero says.
Pre-sales begin today for Take Your Space, which was co-authored by Mrs Petero and Mrs Cribb – both successful businesswomen and former Women of Influence Awards finalists – and published with the support of Westpac.
The book offers practical advice on tricky topics like asking for a pay rise, making yourself heard in meetings, calling out unfair work practices and talking to your partner about sharing childcare and housework duties. It’s already drawn praise from former prime minister Helen Clark, who described it as “a how-to guide for women wanting to get ahead in any walk of life, drawing on the experiences of those who’ve done the hard yards.”
“We have such a buffet of different ages, cultures and professions in there, that every woman will be able to find something that will help them take a step forward,” Mrs Petero says.
“They can pick up the book and learn to negotiate, own their confidence, stand up for themselves against discrimination. These are actions they can take right now.”
The book is based on conversations with 14 women, including broadcaster and Māori language advocate Stacey Morrison, global entrepreneur Linda Jenkinson, company director and business advisor Traci Houpapa, and women’s charity founder Jackie Clark. Mrs Petero says all the women featured are “superstars in their own right.”
“Arizona Leger and Alexia Hilbertidou are barely in their 20s but both represent what we believe is the future of leadership – bold, community-focused with a global reach, and clear on what their values are. It was really important to give a platform to the next generation who are finding their unique spaces”.
Mrs Petero, who is of Tainui descent, says she has faced down discrimination throughout her career. After more than a decade living and working overseas, she returned to New Zealand in 2015 to found Rise2025 Global, a platform to empower Indigenous women around the world.
“What I’ve found challenging is people putting me into boxes and stereotyping me because I’m Māori and I’m also a woman which comes with biases, and having to work doubly hard to prove I have so much more to offer,” she says.
“Rise2025 global is now training Indigenous women as coaches across New Zealand and Australia and Indigenous entrepreneurs in Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and Australia in partnership with Canadian e-commerce company Shopify. What we tell women is that it’s our responsibility to take our space and put ourselves forward and break through those stereotypes and biases.”
Mrs Petero warns that women will have to become more adaptable to succeed. She worries that the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting female workers around the world because they’re over-represented in the worst-affected industries.
“Government figures show that 50,000 more women than men work in the retail, trade and accommodation industries in New Zealand. Yet so far, most of the recovery initiatives have been aimed at male-dominated industries like construction,” she says.
“We need to adapt and get ready for today. This is the future and we’re in it. We need to share our secrets with others. The only way we’re going to get through this is to do this together.”
You can now order your copy of Take Your Space online. Click here for more details.