International Women's Day breakfast

30 March 2015

BDO Melbourne was delighted to host an International Women’s Day breakfast on Thursday, March 5 for more than 80 guests at the RACV Club.

The room bubbled with anticipation as the audience waited to hear from two inspiring speakers, who are actively contributing to gender equality in the workplace.

Female Professionals Need to Stand United

Robyn Walker, Rear Admiral in the Australian Navy, opened the event with her personal story.

Great resilience, team work and perseverance prepared her for the opportunities she was given and helped drive her success as one of the few women to rise in the ranks of the Navy.

Currently, women only represent 15% of The Australian Defence Force. As a female recruit witnessing the rise to 16% over 10 years, Robyn is proud to have been part of the growing number of women representing the Navy.

Robyn followed her dreams to practice in the specialised area of submarine medicine and joined the Navy to pursue this speciality. Robyn is still in the Navy after 25 years because of the opportunities made available to her. She was the right fit for the job and developed strong relationships with those who supported her.

The opportunities made available to her were never part of a gender quota but due to her tenacity, her ability to deal with people and adapt to the changing environment.

Robyn advocates “women need to seek the limelight and be confident”. Speaking of her female colleagues, Robyn shares that there were no clashing egos and success was shared by her team as they focused on achieving the end result.

In the same spirit, sustainable improvements can only be made to gender equality if women continue to strengthen their support for each other.

Men’s Support is Pivotal to Women’s Advancement at the Executive Level

Steve Kemp, Executive Manager, Business Banking - CBA, then took the stage and gave the guests an inside look to the changes occurring at one of Australia’s largest organisations.

Steve continued Robyn’s message, “Women should have a go and not hold back and wait to be asked to take on leadership roles”.

Steve outlined the internal gender leadership program at CBA, which helps support and advance the career of women.

He emphasised how being mindful of unconscious bias was a first step to understanding gender equality and that men play a crucial role in supporting initiatives, such as this, to promote an inclusive leadership program.

Steve was proud to share the changes that had occurred at CBA as a result of the leadership program and the involvement of male executives including the CEO in leading the charge for more change in the future.

Apart from being a senior executive at CBA, gender equality is important to Steve on a more personal level. With four young daughters, he wants each to have all the opportunities to succeed in their chosen fields. As a parent, he is consciously teaching them to have a go and not hold back.

True to this year’s theme of Make It happen, these inspirational stories encourage us to recognise the progress being made today as well as the goals still to be achieved on the road to bettering gender equality.