Choosing to challenge at nbn

12-minute read
To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked 10 nbn employees – each passionate about supporting women – how they will ‘choose to challenge’ in 2021.

Hands up if you’re ready and willing to challenge the status quo. Ready to call out gender bias and inequality. And ready to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements.

This International Women’s Day (IWD), that’s what we’re all being encouraged to do: #ChooseToChallenge.

“A challenged world is an alert world… Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world. From challenge comes change, so let's all choose to challenge.”

About International Women’s Day

Falling on 8 March every year since 1911, International Women’s Day (IWD) celebrates the achievements of women – social, economic, cultural and political. The global day also encourages action for accelerating women’s equality.

Gender equality at nbn

At nbn, our vision is to create a fair and equitable workplace in which all employees have equal access to opportunity, and to develop and succeed in their career regardless of gender.

By proactively breaking down barriers, challenging bias and focusing on a culture of inclusion, we’re constantly working to ensure all employees at nbn have equal access to career advancement and leadership opportunities.

We are focused on increasing the representation of women across the business.

We are happy to confirm that we achieved our goal of 33 per cent representation of women in leadership roles by 2020. By 2025, we’re committed to increasing that to 40 per cent. 

This is supported by organisation-wide initiatives including:

  • Setting clear gender targets with ongoing performance published in our annual report
  • Identifying and developing emerging female leaders and high-potential talent across all business areas
  • Offering women’s career development, mentoring and sponsorship programs
  • Running women’s networking forums
  • Focusing strongly on achieving and maintaining Gender Pay Equity
  • Providing opportunities for flexible working arrangements for all employees
  • Delivering unconscious bias and inclusion training for all employees
  • Ensuring gender balanced recruitment shortlists and interview panels when hiring new employees

To recognise and celebrate this year’s IWD, we asked 10 of our employees – each passionate about supporting women – to share how they are ‘choosing to challenge’ in 2021, how they are supporting women in their careers, and what they think makes nbn an inclusive place to work.

Here are their thoughts, presented in random order:

Joanna Gurry (Chief Data Officer)

How will you ‘Choose to Challenge’ in 2021?

“I will make sure that the men in my team know they have our support in driving a good work/life balance, as I think this is important for driving equality at home for women and that flows through into many other aspects of life.

“I’ve also recently decided to start calling out the practice of people saying, “I explain it in a way that even my mother could understand”.

"Well! My mother, like so many women – grandmas, aunts, mothers-in-law – are capable, technically proficient, intellectual giants.

"If one of my three daughters said that in reference to me, I’d be devasted. So, let’s all skip that super-weird cliché!”

jo-gurry-nbn

Prathibha Shanker (Credit Management Lead)

prathibha-shanker-nbn
How will you Choose to Challenge in 2021?

“Very recently, after watching Serena Williams in an Australian Open match, a friend said, ‘I think she needs to retire, she’s had enough glory’. I didn’t hear him say the same about Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal. Rest assured, I stood up for the woman who won a Grand Slam while she was 20 weeks pregnant.

“We often discuss conscious biases towards gender, race, age, sexual orientation and physical abilities but what I think can sometimes make inequity and discrimination harder to address is the ignorance of unconscious biases and the lack of response to it.

“To do my part, I will be fearless in calling out microaggressions, brushed aside opinions or snide remarks that can perpetuate if they are not nipped in the bud. I will endeavor to be comfortable having those uncomfortable conversations.”

“I will endeavor to be comfortable having those uncomfortable conversations.”

Kylie Li (Graduate)

What do you think makes nbn an inclusive place to work in 2021?

“Having started at nbn last year as a graduate, and as someone who is at the beginning stages of their career, I am constantly amazed and grateful that I’ve had the opportunity to work in various diverse and inclusive teams across the business.

“A testament to my time at nbn and looking ahead in 2021, having a safe space in team meetings to share ideas without judgement of position, age and gender, as well as solidifying the practise of empathetic leadership, are two important factors that make nbn an inclusive place to work.

“While everyone has different ideas of what an inclusive workplace looks and feels like, for me, it is about first creating a sense of belonging and mutual understanding within the immediate and wider team.”

kylie-li-nbn

Joe Camilleri (Executive General Manager, Connect and Assure)

What are you doing to make a difference and/or to support women in their career?
joe-camilleri-nbn

“I really enjoy and take an active part in mentoring a number of talented and diverse people leaders. It’s important that we champion our talent, and through active coaching I look to support building business resilience and specific areas of focus to provide growth in roles and support future opportunities.

“Being part of an inclusive leadership community, we actively look for opportunities to build self-confidence, expand visibility, and arm our female talent with the experiences to enable them to compete for that next step up. Above all else, no one should feel that they don’t belong at the table, and that they don’t have a right to be there. We are always stronger through our diversity of thoughts and ideas.”

“… no one should feel that they don’t belong at the table, and that they don’t have a right to be there. We are always stronger through our diversity of thoughts and ideas.”

Emily Hall (Executive General Manager, Procurement)

What are you doing to make a difference and/or support women in their career?

“Mentoring – I work with a number of people, and probably half are women.

"More recently, I have joined with a group of other female senior procurement leaders to establish an empowerment forum to try to encourage more female talent in the procurement profession.

I have joined with a group of other female senior procurement leaders to establish an empowerment forum to try to encourage more female talent in the procurement profession.
“Like in many areas, it has been recognised that we have strong female presence in the lower levels, however the percentage representation reduces at the more senior levels.”
emily-hall-nbn

Jason Leong (General Manager Labs and Software Architecture)

jason-leong-nbn
How will you ‘Choose to Challenge’ in 2021?

“Diversity hiring is incredibly challenging in the IT industry. A recent example, to illustrate the point, is one senior engineer I know looked through his list of more than 300 LinkedIn contacts, and found three female engineers, all of whom already work for nbn.

“That’s a stark reminder of the challenge, though I’m also glad for the level of diversity that nbn has achieved. But there’s still more that we can do and because gender bias can be systemic, my focus will be to think differently about the way we hire, from the way I write job descriptions, to which platforms we advertise with, to how we interview, to how we work with our suppliers.

“I want to send the message to the industry that nbn prioritises diversity and equality in our hiring, and that we choose to challenge the status quo.”

“I want to send the message to the industry that nbn prioritises diversity and equality in our hiring, and that we choose to challenge the status quo.”

Kathrine Dyer and Debbie Taylor

At nbn, we’re committed to creating an inclusive environment where all of our people feel empowered and respected, have a sense of belonging and the opportunity to thrive and succeed.

Here are two of our Executive leaders, Kathrine Dyer, Chief Operating Officer, and Debbie Taylor, our Chief Information Officer, discussing how we can all help promote gender equity by having the courage to challenge and callout bias and inequality.

Jess Nisbet (Business Enablement Manager)

How will you ‘Choose to Challenge’ in 2021?

“I will Choose to Challenge my own self-limiting beliefs and encourage those around me to challenge theirs.

“For generations, we have formed views of ourselves and the world based on media and societal expectations, pressures and gendered norms. It is fantastic to see more women in global leadership, increased demand and expectation for pay parity, more flexible work options for all genders, and more new fathers taking parental leave.

“I put the challenge to each of us to consider all the things we’ve told ourselves we couldn’t do because we were too much or not enough, or because it’s not how our gender is ‘supposed’ to behave. And then ask ourselves, ‘Why we are letting that get in the way of our own greatness?’ It’s 2021, if not us – then who?”

jess-nisbet-nbn
“I put the challenge to each of us to consider all the things we’ve told ourselves we couldn’t do because we were too much or not enough, or because it’s not how our gender is ‘supposed’ to behave.

Richard Hardy (Executive General Manager, Residential and Micro)

How will you Choose to Challenge in 2021?
richard-hardy-nbn
“I have recently completed a series of coaching sessions based around inclusive leadership, which really opened my eyes to how much more I could be doing to support the elimination of bias and inequality.
“I have recently completed a series of coaching sessions based around inclusive leadership, which really opened my eyes to how much more I could be doing to support the elimination of bias and inequality.
“This year, I will actively be working on creating a stronger culture of inclusion within the team, questioning the teams I am part of to uplift awareness of bias, and taking part in nbn’s programs designed to support the next generation of female leaders.”

Kelly Vallelonga (Executive Manager, Network Resilience Program)

What do you think makes nbn an inclusive place to work in 2021?

“We are a values-driven business that really focusses on and promotes a strong culture of people first, where inclusion is embraced and differences are celebrated.

“Whether it be by encouraging connection and collaboration with others, supporting and embracing our differences, ensuring everyone’s safety and promoting open mindedness in our ways of working, for example, managing meetings in a way that invites all to have a voice and flexibility.”

kelly-vallelonga-nbn

Paula Rujak (General Manager, Network and IT Simplification and Security)

paula-rujak-nbn
What are you doing to make a difference and/or to support women in their career?

“Through mentoring and coaching many women in nbn, and the industry, I share the story of my own challenges and experiences with inequality as a woman in engineering over the past 20+ years.

“I listen to other’s experiences, offer insights, and help to arm women with the tools where needed today. I actively sponsor women in engineering and technology leaders to be visible and heard, and to seek and celebrate women’s achievements. I am also a member of the nbn Equals Awareness & Advocacy team.

“It is also important to understand that gender bias is not just about the impacts it has in our workplace today. In my personal time, I support those experiencing homelessness and those fleeing domestic violence.

“It is important that current and next generations understand that broad societal change starts with every individual’s behaviour today, and that equality is owned by us all.”

nbn Equals network

Launched during IWD 2020, nbn Equals is our employee network for championing gender equality.

It aims to create a fair and equitable workplace in which all employees have equal access to opportunity, and to develop and succeed in their career regardless of gender.

Through the nbn Equals community, employees can connect, learn, share experiences and ideas, and have a voice on gender equality and inclusion through the year-round program.

Supporting a fair and equitable workplace in which men, women, transgender and intersex have equal access to opportunity to develop and succeed in their career at nbn.

nbn Equals is for everyone who wants to drive change and get involved in shaping gender equality at nbn.

nbn Equals hosts networking events and knowledge sharing sessions with senior leaders, and is passionate about promoting gender equality to the external community to celebrate all we do as an organisation to effect positive change, as well as actively supporting outreach programs, such as Code Like a Girl.

nbn Equals is for everyone who wants to drive change and get involved in shaping gender equality at nbn, including:

  • supporting a fair and equitable workplace in which men, women, transgender and intersex have equal access to opportunity to develop and succeed in their careers at nbn
  • supporting men, women, transgender and intersex to have equal opportunity to be actively and engaged in home and family life

nbn Equals is about supporting each and every one of us, in realising our full potential and challenging gender-related stereotypes and biases.