I walk into NAWO events and remember too late that I need to bring earplugs. It always makes me smile when I see people so animated, so pleased to be there working together to build equality of female representation in sectors that are traditionally male dominated. As we launch NAWO’s new look, it is with a sense of great pride that I reflect on our first five years – starting from nothing, just an idea that we needed to do something to improve diversity. With a little effort from lots of people we are now an amazing industry association, supported by so many organisations who want to improve their female pipeline and participation.
Our first key step was in 2010 when the HR Director at Orora picked up the phone and invited her company’s senior female customers to lunch. This was followed quickly by Mondelez and Coca Cola Amatil (CCA) hosting low key events for women in Victoria. Orora’s CEO then told us we needed a website so gave us the cash – and off we went. CCA, Mondelez and George Weston Foods (GWF) hopped on board quickly with some seeding money, as did Fonterra, BlueScope and Sugar Australia. The Operations Director ex Mondelez soon relocated to NSW and, voila, we were now in NSW, hosted by Cochlear and powered by GWF and CCA. Then one of our Victorian committee members moved to Perth and so our WA Chapter was born – backed by Brookfield Rail to get us started. Meanwhile BP, ABB and Australia Post also joined in, contributing support in every state in all sorts of ways. Then one day we had an event in Victoria hosted by GSK that the ex CFO from BP came as key note speaker. She is on the Board of Incitec Pivot and was confident their CEO would get behind NAWO, and sure enough he did. His only request was that we launch Queensland – so, in the Brisbane canteen of Incitec Pivot, NAWO’s Queensland Chapter was born.
Since then more and more organisations have come on board, showing it really does take just a little bit of action from a wide range of people to make great things happen. NAWO really is a little piece of magic, proving that big business in Australia can collaborate across sectors to solve problems, without regulation and politics demanding it.
Want to know which organisations are shaping the future now? Check out the membership of our Board and State Committees, as well as our Ambassadors. And please, reach out if your organisation wants to be more active and if you want to help NAWO branch into Australia’s remaining states and territories.
As Founder and now Chair of NAWO, my real vision is that we become obsolete – and that is not in the time of my great great great great great great great great great (yes 9 greats!) grand-daughter who, according to current projections, would be the first in my family line to work in a truly equal environment. We must speed up the 328 year projection for Australian business. In fact, I’d love if my 14, 11 and 10 year old girls (and my 10 year old boy!) get to thrive in it instead.
Founder and Chair, NAWO