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#LeadingLadies & Isobar’s International Women’s Day Event

This International Women’s Day (March 8), #LeadingLadies in partnership with Isobar Australia had the pleasure of hosting a panel discussion about diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

#LeadingLadies Founder Anna O’Dea welcomed 50 guests for a morning of education around this year’s IWD theme, #BalanceforBetter. The panel was moderated by #LeadingLady and Associate Strategic Design Director at Isobar, Julia Birks.

The event featured a powerhouse panel on leaders in the D&I space across private and public sectors, including: Alexandra Smith, Group General Manager PR and Partnerships, Crown Resorts; Cinnamon Pollard, CX and Digital Transformation Lead at WorkSafe Victoria; Enya Cai, Oceania Diversity and Inclusion Coordinator at EY; and Erik Hollander, Managing Director at Isobar.

Key points included:

– Having open discussions and creating space for diversity dialogue is key

– Be self-aware of your own subconscious biases. Everyone has bias, but by acknowledging and having an awareness of them, you will be more informed in decision-making

– Be wary of echo-chambers, and reach out to those who may not believe in gender disparity or challenge your own views

– Workplace flexibility has come a long way in the past decade and is important. A practical way to enforce it is for leaders to lead by example (e.g. leave loudly, have senior leaders vocalise when they are leaving early for school pick up, juniors will be encouraged to follow their example)

– There is a shift from maternity and paternity leave to ‘parental leave’ to be more inclusive  


Alex highlighted the importance of acknowledging the privilege we each have when approaching diversity and inclusion discussions, and to recognise that many Australian women aren’t in the same positions or don’t work in progressive companies. She also acknowledged that without action, policies are ineffective. Diversity and inclusion policies need to be integrated into workplace cultures actively, rather than sit in the corner as just another box to be ticked.

Enya discussed actively seeking out diverse individuals for roles, speaking opportunities and contributions. Whilst men may be more likely to say ‘yes’ to speaking engagements, it’s important we don’t give up on trying to feature those who are from diverse backgrounds. She also highlighted the importance of visible support when it comes to invisible diversity. Examples include wearing pride pins, having rainbow lanyards or flags.

Erik shared his perspective on taking practical initiatives to support diversity as a leader. He pointed out the example of celebrating different cultural days in the office, and showing your employees that you support their differences and embrace who they are. This also helps educate other employees and raises diversity and inclusion awareness. Erik moreover encourages open discourse about things that may be confronting or challenging. Communication about the tough topics is what will make a difference in the future.

Cinnamon shed light into how WorkSafe is working to transform their organisational processes to embed diversity and inclusion. She highlighted how working to understand the diversity of your customers is crucial. In this way, you are better able to serve them and create products that appeal to them. Cinnamon also encouraged the transparency of facts and figures to empower women to talk fiscally and negotiate their worth. Research and facts that are openly available can educate, inform and encourage better pay parity in the workplace.

All proceeds from ticket sales were donated to The Good Samaritan Inn, who support women, children and young people who are homeless, in crisis and experiencing family violence. A total of $410 was raised.

The crowd enjoyed a light breakfast by STREAT Catering, an organisation offering disadvantaged youth a supported pathway from the street to sustainable livelihood.

A special thank you to Isobar for partnering with us on this event and our four panelists for sharing their insights with us.

We look forward to seeing you at our next #LeadingLadies event!


Read the #LeadingLadies series here.

Get in touch with Anna O’Dea.

Enquire about STREAT catering.

Discover more about Good Samaritan Inn.