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Big Night Out

21 October 2013

Gail Kelly and WOI finalists 2013

 

It’s not something you do lightly calling for nominations for Australia’s most influential women. Why? Because you will be inundated and suffer an embarrassment of riches in the process. Not that either of those things is a negative. (Pictured above: Westpac CEO Gail Kelly, at left, with the 100 Women of Influence top 10 for 2013)

What may come as a surprise is that around half of our 500 nominations for 2013 came from male colleagues! That is an extremely heartening statistic and one worth noting.

So what makes the 100 Women of Influence celebrations so important and remarkable?

Firstly, it serves to remind us all just how many women there are in our communities doing such amazing work in areas as diverse as business, diversity, innovation and philanthropy, among others, as well as how many of them are great, quiet achievers.

Secondly, it gave us a chance to hold a gala dinner to which the 100 nominees were invited and to which our guests brought family, friends and staff. It was a night for all to celebrate - and a night to celebrate the influence women have on more than just their workplace.

In the ballroom of the Sydney Hilton were women celebrating their achievements at work, in the community and with their families. And the gala event’s atmosphere reflected the wide-reaching nature of the celebration.

Professor Adele Green, who was named Australia’s Top Woman of Influence, while not able to join us had done a wonderful video acknowledgement and had also sent one of her colleagues to accept the award in person. The warmth in what Adele and her colleague had to say about the awards marked just one of those “feel good” moments of the night.

Adele was also in the running for Australian of the Year this year and was Queensland’s Australian of the Year in 2013, proving that it’s not just sports people, ex-pollies or business men that can get the gong. The “quiet” scientist’s work in skin cancer research has had longterm lifesaving effects for Australians, proving that wearing sunscreen can halve the risk of melanoma.

In the Diversity category, Deanne (Dee) Gibbon, Director Workforce Diversity, Royal Australian Air Force, was a standout. She spoke of implementing the Broderick reforms, creating a diverse armed forces, opening up more opportunities for people in the forces, and the importance of stepping up to make a difference. Her wonderful sense of humour and excitement (and the popping of champagne at her table to celebrate) were infecting.

Throughout the night, we ran across many women we’ve featured on Ruby - more than a dozen we’ve featured as interviews on the site and many more who are members, bloggers and close associates. Over dinner and in the cocktail and canapés that preceded the award dinner it was exhilarating to catch up and introduce people to one another and hopefully connect more and more women of influence to one another.

We caught up with Kim McKay AO one of the top 10 nominees in the social enterprise/not for profit category, which June Oscar from Marninwarntikura Fitzroy Women’s Resource Centre Aboriginal Corporation won.

Kim had this to say: “The 100 Women of Influence Awards is a great opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women right across the Australian community.  With every award, we received a remarkable insight into the extraordinary and influential work that women in the business, community and innovation sectors are undertaking.  It was uplifting to hear the winner’s stories and I was so proud to be named among the 100 women.  There was a sense of achievement and the air was bursting full of inspiration but I think it was also a great celebration in recognising these fantastic women. Congratulations to Westpac and the AFR on this great initiative.”

The Westpac Group’s Gail Kelly presented with Fairfax’s Greg Hywood - promising more to come next year and the year after…

We look forward to adding to our 200 alumni and congratulate every person nominated - pinpointing 100 finalists each year adds up, making it easier and easier to provide all Australians with the diversity of influence and role models this country deserves.

Below Board and Management joint winners, (left) Belinda Hutchinson, QBE, and (right) Rebecca Dee-Bradbury, Mondelez International, with Westpac's General Manager, Corporate Affairs and Sustainability, Carolyn McCann.

Women of Influence 2013

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