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Breaking the gender bias in the workplace this IWD

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This year, International Women’s Day (IWD) on 8 March is themed around Breaking the Bias, and striving towards a diverse, equitable, and inclusive world, free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination.

Often, great change can start from as little as a conversation.

To celebrate the IWD theme and encourage conversations around the acceleration of women’s equality, local organisation Communities at Work is hosting a thought-provoking online discussion on the challenges and tips for success in the workplace, which is free to attend.

Their IWD panel discussion will include five inspiring women from Communities at Work, from diverse programs and career stages, sharing their thoughts on leadership, career support, keys to success, what bias means, and gender equality. The event is free, and will be live-streamed on Facebook Live on the Communities at Work Facebook page on Tuesday 8 March, from 4 pm.

Joining the panel will be Jo Cochrane, Communities at Work’s director of Lifestyle Services (pictured centre). She’s now worked with the organisation for just over a decade in a variety of roles, and has enjoyed the flexibility, support, and ample opportunities for growth and development offered. Jo believes open and honest conversations are a key factor in driving equality in the workplace, along with leaders who are open to listening.

“I think it’s about having the door open. My door’s always open, and I would say that that would be the same for all the leaders across Communities at Work’s management team and leadership team, because we genuinely want to hear what people have got to say.

“In the context of leadership, saying, ‘it’s my way or the highway’ doesn’t work. It can create barriers. So, if you want to nurture your teams and create that positive culture, then you’ve got to do it from walking the talk. But if you can’t come down to the weeds, so to speak, and actually have those conversations and be part of that culture as well, then I think that makes it hard to break the bias.”

Melita Pendergast running a team meeting at Communities @ Work.

Jo acknowledges that one of the big areas where gender bias exists in the workplace is around women taking time out of their careers to have children.

“In my 20s, I went for an interview with a big international bank at the time, and one of the men who interviewed me said, ‘So do you plan on having children?’ I don’t actually remember my response, but we got on really well. And years later, he reminded me what I said to him. Apparently, I sat back and said, ‘what does my having children have to do with this particular role right here and now?’ It obviously resonated for him, which was fantastic,” says Jo.

“In the last couple of years, I’ve had a young team at Communities at Work, so I’ve had a couple of announced pregnancies, which has been wonderful. But there’s not even been a question about coming back and having some flexibility. It’s about valuing the individual, and knowing their worth, and knowing that this is just part of a journey for some women, that they’re going to have interruption in their career due to children and recognising that not every day is going to be great. That should not be something that’s condemned because you’re breaking the pattern of work routine.”

Jo will delve into these issues and many more alongside the panel as part of Community at Work’s live streamed IWD event. It’s free to attend and anyone can join. Just tune in via the Communities at Work Facebook page on 8 March from 4pm.

Communities at Work is Canberra’s largest not-for-profit community organisation, offering high-quality early education and care services and community services across the capital.

For their large team of over 600 staff, Communities at Work strives to be an employer of choice, offering a values-based and positive workplace culture, with meaningful and appealing employee benefits, complemented by a commitment to ongoing training and professional development.

Their employees enjoy benefits like generous salary packaging, free vaccinations, healthy activity reimbursements, 95% discount on childcare fees for their educators, and employee assistance for mental health and other issues.

Sound pretty good? You can find their current career opportunities here.

Live Event Details

What: Communities at Work’s 2022 International Women’s Day event: Women in Leadership, a free, live-streamed panel discussion.
When: Tuesday 8 March from 4 — 4.45 pm
Where: Streamed online via Facebook Live on the Communities at Work Facebook page.
Web: The event is free to join. Register your interest or watch the event here.

Feature image: Jo Cochrane (centre) at last year’s inaugural World Elder Abuse Awareness Day expo, supported by Communities at Work in collaboration with the ACT Government.

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