Featuring the last interview in our series on Recognising Women In Insolvency & Restructuring, Victoria. Hear from Laura Bolzonello WIRV Treasurer & Manager at Grant Thornton.
1. What does this year’s theme for Women’s Day #ChooseToChallenge mean for you in your work life?
The ability to choose to not accept the status quo when it comes to diversity and support for women in the workplace, whether that be around female representation in senior management, how an employee is supported whilst on and returning from maternity leave, ensuring there are sufficient opportunities for part-time arrangements, and being in a workplace where it is clear that there are equal opportunities for promotion and advancement.
Further, it is about empowering the younger generation with the knowledge that they do not have to accept these ‘norms’ and that there is a choice in who we work for and how we work and to be mindful of the workplace’s diversity and policies from the outset. It is about knowing that change can happen and that we can be part of that change, and more importantly, if that change isn’t happening, there are other organisations out there that are actively advocating for these issues.
2. How do you challenge or address stereotypes at work?
By being a strong supporter of other women within the industry. I have been an active member of WIRV for several years now, namely through the advocacy subcommittee and more recently on the Committee of Management.
In the early days of my career, I recognised that as a female insolvency accountant, I was in the minority. In particular, my association with other women in positions of leadership or seniority were minimal, and as such, it was difficult to envision my career pathway within the industry past that of a supervisor/senior associate role, as there was no one to lead by example. This led me to seek support through WIRV and ultimately resulted in my becoming involved at an organising level in WIRV, to advocate and support other women within the industry.
Through organising events, seminars and networking opportunities facilitated by WIRV, I am able to help provide examples to others on how women are succeeding within their careers within insolvency, how they got there, how they manage work-life balance, the transition from maternity leave back to work, achieve partnership etc. This provides invaluable insight to all women in the industry and allows us to collectively work together to change the status quo.
3. What are some of the most pressing issues fuelling gender inequality at the workplace, and what are your recommendations to address these?
The lack of female representation in positions of senior leadership. To address this issue, we need to lessen the barriers to entry and change the perception that to be in positions of seniority, you need to work full time. This is going to be a process of education and experience. When one workplace shows that it can be done, and done successfully, others will follow.
4. How can organisations and society at large create awareness and acceptance of gender neutrality?
Being continuously aware of any inherent bias that you may have, and working together as an organisation to remove any bias from hiring or promotion processes. This will enable us to see the person for their skills and merit – ensuring gender is not a factor.
5. What is your advice to women who are just starting their career in law?
Advocate for yourself. You need to be your strongest and loudest supporter. If you don’t believe in yourself and your capabilities, it will be difficult for others to do so. If you don’t know how then learn! Find someone, or multiple people, who can help you recognise your strengths, who can mentor you, help you with the next steps and develop your career.
6. Who or what has inspired you to become the successful person that you are today?
I was lucky to have a strong female mentor when I started my career who enabled me to see that this industry was one I could fit into. She was my advocate many times throughout my career. She has helped guide me whenever I have faced issues that I didn’t know how to tackle and has been a sounding board along the way. My other inspiration is my family, and in particular, my Mum, who, having had 6 children, 4 of whom are female, has always been a strong advocate for us to be independent strong individuals and to stand for what we believe in.
7. What is your favourite song?
Somewhere over the rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwoʻole.
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/