The year that was: Celebrating 2018 for Women & Leadership Australia

three photos of women: first one is three women on a panel, second is three different women on a panel and the third is two women sitting and talking to each other.

By Suzi Finkelstein.

Well, we’ve made it…

The ‘silly season’ is upon us and we are beginning to wind down for the year, before an even bigger and better year in 2019. As part of planning for 2019, we have taken some time to think about the year that was (and the fact that we have been around for almost 15 years- wow!), and it has been an absolutely ground-breaking one for us. The #100daysforchange campaign was more successful than anything we could have ever imagined, and has had a tangible impact, which we are incredibly proud of. If you want to see what we all achieved, you can find out more about the impact of #100daysforchange here.

The #100daysforchange campaign was something that came out of a need for individuals and organisations to share wisdom in order to mobilise change. Organisations and individuals would often come to us with issues they were facing around diversity and equality in the workplace, and they were all facing the same issues. All over Australia, people became ambassadors for positive change, sharing collective wisdom and addressing issues of equality and diversity in the workplace, and we are so excited to see that continuing.

It was a privilege for all of us here at Women & Leadership Australia to have Tracey Spicer as our official partner and ambassador for that- she is a champion of gender equality and women’s rights, and it was fantastic to have her on board.

I think the biggest realisation from the campaign (for us and for the organisations and ambassadors who got involved) was that change is an ongoing process- and the change that began as part of #100daysforchange will both continue and evolve for many years to come. We would like to extend a big thank you and congratulations to everyone who participated and helped us move closer to a more gender equitable society.

Alongside this, we have travelled to every capital city and acknowledged the incredible work of nine women who are leaders in our society. The recipients of this year’s ‘The Australian Award for Excellence in Women’s Leadership’ are: Professor Gillian Triggs, Magda Szubanski, Dr Kirstin Ferguson, Dr Kate Stannage, Taryn Brumfit, Marita Cheng, Major General Simone Wilkie AO, Nova Peris OAM OLY and Gail Kelly.

Our speakers for the symposiums this year were all amazing, established leaders in their industries. We were joined by the likes of Tracey Spicer, Jamila Rizvi, Catherine Fox, Angela Pippos, Marina Go, Ita Buttrose OAM, Amna Karra-Hassan and the Right Hon Dame Jenny Shipley, former PM of New Zealand.

In the room, we also had women who were currently undertaking leadership courses with us, and some of our graduates even graced the stage! It was a joy to see current and past students coming together in the room. They most certainly had a more informed learning experience following the event and the atmosphere was even more supportive and inspirational than usual.

We also branched back out into rural and regional Australia, after a few years of only travelling to major metropolitan areas. Alice Springs, Rockhampton, Toowoomba, Albury-Wodonga, Bendigo and Coffs Harbour were all kind enough to have us this year. These events were such a success that we have even more planned for 2019, including four right at the start of the year. We had inspiring female leaders from the local area, and local industries at each event, and Tracey Spicer came to share her wisdom with everyone as well.

As far as our cutting edge leadership courses go, I have had the pleasure of working with so many emerging, established and senior leaders this year. There is no doubt in my mind that every single one of them will continue to be effective, admired leaders in their workplaces, and will continue to do great things.

And speaking of courses, this year we also launched The Accord Program. This unique program is delivered in house and helps leaders and workplaces more broadly to engage with, and support, talented women in the organisation. It creates networking groups, helps women build social capital, accounts for emotional wellbeing and promotes inclusivity.

2018 has been an incredible, jam packed year for all of us at Women & Leadership Australia, but there is no doubt that it has been one of our best yet. Have a safe festive season and we will see you in 2019. 

Suzi Finkelstein is the Program Director for Women & Leadership Australia. 

Share your highlights from this year with us on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also check out our YouTube channel.​