Unite against the Luddites

Townsville is a long way physically from where I sit at my workplace in Sydney, but when I read a news article in the Townsville Bulletin headed “Comments on women create furore” I thought it is not just 2,000 kms away – more like a century a way. 


“Townsville identity Max Tomlinson is in hot water after declaring most women do not possess the drive and determination men ‘innately’ have.”

There are 7 billion people on the planet – half of which are female – and the ‘enlightened’ Max Tomlinson lumps every woman into one box and states every man is a ‘go-getter’.

I have met my fair share of ‘nurturing warm hearted’ men in my time – as well as ‘hard nosed’ women. If there is one sure thing, it is that hormones alone do not predetermine a human being’s disposition.

Surely this man cannot be serious… has he not read anything about the changes in our community and the value different people bring to business. I wonder what he would think of “The End of Men” article.

I suspect that this must be a publicity stunt of some sort. (And I have probably just furthered his cause by highlighting it.) Simply it does nothing to add to the debate. Whilst we will all have a bit of fun calling Tomlinson a Luddite, it does distract from the real issues that need debating.

Who in our community is taking a bigger view of what the world could be like if we shifted our thoughts about how our post-industrial revolution society is constructed.

I pose these questions: What growth opportunities would be available to our economy if we could attract more women back to the workforce in any capacity (i.e. flexible hours) because childcare was readily available and community based? What would happen if there was free childcare available to all Australian families?

Let’s be outrageous ourselves – given that the Luddites are – and challenge our governments to consider the idea of free childcare.

(Though I must note that I have been invited by Federal MP Tanya Plibersek to a public forum on May 3 at Annandale Public School to debate childcare issues in Sydney; however, I’m only invited because I live in her electorate and she has invited all residents.)

I am in the privileged position of meeting many people and, whether male or female, as soon as the conversation turns to children, the juggle and struggle stories are shared. I think it is time that we let others know what it is really like; the cost to the community and economy of having to battle with childcare.

We are about to launch a website so that people have a place to leave their stories. When people unite as one voice, those in power will listen to that voice.

If you have a moment and a story you would like to share about how you manage childcare, please add it to the FreeChildcareAustralia site.

We cannot let the Luddites keep us stuck in the last century.

Naomi Simson is considered one of Australia’s Best Bosses. She is an employee engagement advocate and practices what she preaches in her own business. RedBalloon has been named as one of only six Hewitt Best Employers in Australia and New Zealand for 2009 and awarded an engagement scorecard of over 90% two years in a row – the average in Australian businesses is 55%. RedBalloon has also been nominated by BRW as being in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Australia behind the likes of Google.

One of Australia’s outstanding female entrepreneurs, Naomi regularly entertains as a passionate speaker inspiring people on employer branding, engagement and reward and recognition. Naomi writes a blog and is a published author – and has received many accolades and awards for the business she founded – RedBalloon.com.au.


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