In her own words
The ultimate goal of diversity has to be achieving diversity of thought, and you start with demographic diversity as the first lever to get to that end game. I love the quote (and it’s not mine) ‘diversity is about being invited to the ball and inclusion is being asked to dance.’ I use it often.
People must be able to bring their whole selves into the workplace, and that is not just a gender issue. In our organisation we look at how we ensure we are achieving diversity not only in leadership, but on projects and that within in our teams there is the space for all people to put their ideas forward.
My passion is to get more women into the transport industry and into leadership, but I do think a lot of the things we do to try and achieve that goal delivers huge benefits for everyone. The construction industry still has one of the highest male suicide rates in the country, so much of the current culture that is not working for women, is not working for men as well.
In our Consult Australia Champions of Change Group, we have been heavily focused on building the pipeline and attracting more women into STEM and in the last couple of years we worked on systemic issues including fixing up recruitment, promotion and reward practices and eliminating gender pay gaps. We have pivoted fully in the last 12 months to work on inclusive leadership and building better organisations, from not only from having diversity but making sure all people have a voice.
We have been working with the Australian Constructors Association and the Construction Industry Leadership Forum on their new Culture Standard and about bringing cultural change to life.
Without this cultural change everything else we do does seems like creating little ripples in a big ocean. Yes, we can attract more women and build a pipeline, but it’s about how you retain that talent and foster that skills and experience. I can’t see any other way we can get where we need to get if it doesn’t start with culture change, collectively led by government and private industries involved in the sector.
When I think about culture, I think what is the experience of being part of the transport sector? What does it feel like when I go to work – am I motivated, inspired, and feel I can be myself every day? Culture underpins the entire experience.
In my Board role with Infrastructure Partnerships Australia, I sit on their Women’s Infrastructure Network Steering Committee and during the last six months we have been working on putting ‘gender in the tender’ with defined requirements. The biggest way we are going to transform the transport culture is seeing women in the management of project teams and in the leadership of bids. We need to be specific about what ‘gender in the tender’ needs to deliver.
For women looking to build a purpose-driven career in an industry that makes an impact, transport delivers. We create connected communities and we make the world a better place.
Strength in Training
I have learnt a lot around resilience and leadership through my work as a Mentor in the Minerva Network, working with two mentees both of whom know what it takes to perform at the peak and have experience captaining Australia in their chosen sport.
When you talk with high performing athletes what is apparent is that to get to the top of their sport, they have experienced failure throughout their lives and worked on their succeed-fail, succeed-fail balance from a very early age.
A lot of the time in our working careers you can get a long way without experiencing much failure and when you do you don’t have the same resilience as some of these sporting people. We can learn from that, particularly post COVID.
A key piece of advice that has always stuck with me came from my uncle, a senior executive in gold mining in Western Australia. When I was at university, he said: “it is ok to be impatient in terms of your career and aspiring to achieve, but you must be patient with the experiences.” He’d seen a lot of people get a role and instantly start looking for their next one. My uncle steered me to make the most out of every single experience to build up my skills and capabilities.