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My time at Women's Markets

28 October 2016

Ainslie van Onselen (Newsletter size)

Fairness and equality of opportunity are things I am passionate about. I believe women are and should be considered smart, capable and above all equal and The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence awards are about just that. Last night in front of a crowd of more than 700 women, including past and present winners and a growing smattering of men, we celebrated our Top 100 and announced our 10 category winners and overall winner.

Moya Dodd, Partner, Gilbert + Tobin, a former Matilda and one of only three women to have served on the FIFA executive committee, was named Women of Influence.

Passionate about promoting women in the world’s most popular game, Moya says to do this at the highest level is vital, because even small improvements, when extrapolated globally, can have a huge impact for women – and be leveraged to their lives beyond sport. Her work in sport and as a lawyer is outstanding and inspiring.

Ruby was a sponsor at the recent Women World Changers conference in Sydney where the debate on Diversity and Inclusion was centre stage. To reach equality we all have to step-up and acknowledge what equality means and why our workplaces and society need it. For that mission to become reality, targets with teeth play an important part in strategy. Of course, as one speaker noted, no one is going to be as interested in your career as you are but advocating for greater inclusion, flexibility for all, sponsorship opportunities for women and remaining aware of our natural tendency to get caught in the Merit Trap – only to see merit in what we think is meritorious – remain important strategies for success.

There is a very real business imperative for this concerted effort to change the way we do things. In our new workplaces it has become self-evident that doing things the same old way is not delivering success. Hiring, firing, promoting the same people we have in the past won’t encourage the change we need to bring about new opportunities and growth.

It made me think about how we expect a CV or a letter of application to look. Invariably, we want them to follow a particular pattern and play to our own expectations of language and communication. The problem with this approach is that our own unconscious biases can come into play. We might dismiss an applicant because their form has not met our expectations, which is why I am looking forward to the results from our pilot program with the Victorian State Government on ‘blind’ CVs where identifying details – names, sex, age, etc. - are removed from applicants’ CVs.

I recently attended the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation’s fundraiser Bazaar in Bloom. The Foundation raises money for RHW’s Fertility and Research Centre, which is Australia’s first public, holistic centre for fertility, providing comprehensive IVF and assisted reproductive treatment, and services for all patients. The centre also allows cancer patients of all ages to preserve and store their fertility and to have biological children despite the side effects of chemotherapy and radiotherapy; which would otherwise render them sterile. Bazaar in Bloom, held at the home of businessman Justin Hemmes, was a huge success raising $470,000 in one night for the Foundation. Again, Ruby was an official supporter.

We have also been involved in the recent Vogue Codes two-day extravaganza for young girls, boys and women keen to understand work and life in the future. It’s frightening how many of us and how many of our young people use technology but have no idea how and why it works. Learning how to code and understanding coding offers us the chance to get behind the technology we use and see its potential. Understanding coding is also incredibly important from a diversity and inclusion aspect if we as women are to understand the language in which technology works and so communicate effectively in the future.

We recently hosted investigator and journalist Christine Dolan for a lunch at which she spoke about: human trafficking and 21st century slavery. (You may have seen her on ABC TV’s Q&A?) Christine is a former political director at CNN and investigative journalist. Her career has focused on US and international politics and policy, wars/conflicts, humanitarian disasters, terrorists and criminal networks. Since 2000, she has focused on human trafficking and terrorism worldwide.

The eight faces of trafficking, she says are labour, sex, child soldiers, sex tourism, internet, organ, skin, ritual abuse and torture. Around this trafficking swirl a number of myths and one fact: you can make a difference.

The question was how? The answer, start with and get kids and parents aware of the work the site does and how it can help virtually and in reality by educating and providing a platform for people to report abuse.

Her important point that child pornography is sexual abuse and a crime left you in no doubt that Christine pulls no punches.

It’s with a bitter-sweet feeling that I announce my exciting news. I have been appointed to run RAMS Home Loans (part of the Westpac Group) as its Executive Director.

I have loved my time at Women’s Markets and Inclusion and Diversity. It has been a privilege for me to do fulltime for 18 months what had previously been a passionate hobby for me.

This new role at RAMS is an exciting next step in my career. It is an opportunity to run an end-to-end business and to be the custodian of an incredible brand. My transition from law to banking over the past three years wouldn’t have been possible without the wonderful support of many colleagues and advisors. I won’t name them but they know who they are. It would also not have been possible without the incredible passion of the Women’s Markets and Inclusion and Diversity teams.



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