At Law Image, we are proud and honoured to recognise the achievements of Women in Insolvency and Restructuring Victoria (WIRV).
Here is the first of the four interviews that we will feature with the executive committee members of the WIRV association.
1. What does this year’s theme for Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life?
To me, #ChoosetoChallenge is a call to action to each of us to make small differences in our daily work life to create a big change in the workplace. It is easy often to talk about the benefits of gender diversity, and diversity in general, but often people find it difficult for organisations to action change effectively and properly within their own workplaces.
I am committed to challenging the notion that a career in insolvency or the law is not suited to a woman. It is not about making the women stronger. We are already strong. It is about changing the way that we see each other’s strengths. I am committed to assessing the strengths and weaknesses of each person on an individual basis, rather than on pre-conceived assumptions based on their gender.
2. How do you challenge or address stereotypes at work?
In my legal practice I constantly try to involve junior level lawyers, regardless of their gender. For me, I also find it is important to encourage junior women to get involved in the industry in other ways. This might be writing an article for the LIV Journal, getting involved in a WIRV subcommittee or attending other industry events.
I think it is important for all junior staff, particularly the women, to start building relationships with others in the industry at a similar level from early in their career. This way, as you rise up through the corporate ranks together, you have already established strong relationships that look beyond anyone’s gender with individuals who begin to have decision making power.
3. What are some of the most pressing issues fuelling gender inequality at the workplace, and what are your recommendations to address these?
As we return to the “new normal”, I think that there will be many organisations wanting to encourage their staff to come back to work in the office, which is understandable. Whilst, it has been proven that staff can be productive at home or when working remotely, it can be easy for workplaces to fall back into the same habits.
Flexible working arrangements are so important for gender equality and diversity, and we must make sure that we don’t backtrack on the immense progress that was made during 2020. It normalises the notion that if you are working remotely, you are still working! Similarly, it encourages leaders to remember about opportunities for the whole team, not just for those in the office. It should no longer be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
4. How can organisations and society at large create awareness and acceptance of gender neutrality?
I am passionate about people and I am passionate about supporting everyone equally. No one in the society is better than the other. We are all human beings and sometimes people need to be reminded of that. People too often think that their opinion/view/belief is the only one and everyone should agree with them.
Creating awareness and acceptance of gender neutrality means that we need to talk about it more openly and honestly. The only way to encourage awareness and acceptance is by talking about it more and encouraging people to understand a different perspective to their own. Often, once you understand an issue better acceptance follows.
5. What is your advice to women who are just starting their career in law?
Back yourself. Back yourself. Back yourself. Don’t be afraid to dive in and give things a red hot crack. Of course, you will make mistakes, that is to be expected. It is also ok to ask for help when you need it. Be open with your colleagues and mentors about your goals and challenges and, most importantly, celebrate your successes! For example, when you obtain a great result on a difficult matter for a client, be proud of yourself and share it with your colleagues!
You have worked hard to get your education, and now it is time to show the industry what you’re made of.
6. Who or what has inspired you to become the successful person that you are today?
I am fortunate to have been raised in a family with two loving and hard-working parents. My parents have run their own small retail business for over 30 years. They are two of the hardest working people I know. They have seen some amazing highs throughout their business journey, but also some incredible lows.
One thing that has been drummed into me from a young age is, never give up and never compromise on your integrity. No matter how difficult things get, they have taught me to always be myself and make the best decisions I can based on the information available to me at the time.
7. What is your favourite song?
Valarie, Amy Winehouse. It always puts me in a great mood!
8. Two words to describe yourself.
WIRV is a not-for-profit association that through a female executive committee, connects, empowers and contributes to its members, the insolvency industry and the wider community. Visit WIRV for more information https://wirv.com.au/
Law Image has a strong focus on gender equality and all our team members are committed to creating a gender neutral world. Read more https://www.lawimage.com/2021/03/05/womens-day-choosetochallenge/