#Breakthebias: smashing the glass ceiling in 2022

This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate some of the amazing women we know that #breakthebias in their everyday lives.

Whether it’s lifting up the unrepresented, creating visibility for the overlooked or creating space for themselves in an unlikely industry — these leaders are smashing (or steadily chipping away at) that glass ceiling.

Here’s what they have to say about how to break the bias.

Jessica Macpherson OAM

Jessica is the founder of Blaze Your Trail, a social enterprise that provides practical hands-on learning opportunities, mentoring and support to find pathways to employment for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers. She is also the former CEO and founder of St Kilda Mums, Geelong Mums and Eureka Mums

How are you breaking bias in your work? 

Through my business I help underrepresented minorities into careers in technology. I teach 6 - 8 am in the morning because that is a time that suits people who have jobs during the day or kids to take care of. I promote volunteers and job seekers on linkedIn. I make introductions. I convince employers to give them a chance. I create internships. 

Everyday I do a number of things to #breakthebias. 

We need to double down our efforts to smash the glass ceiling. 

What advice would you give to others trying to break bias? 

Tell stories that show just how talented people are. Call out racism, sexism and ageism. Make companies accountable. It's not enough to say you do something you should have to prove it. Independent regulation of things like salaries by gender are needed to truly hold employees accountable. Refuse to participate in a panel if the panel does not represent your community. Demand to be paid for your time. You are worth it!

Soozy Smith

Soozy is the CEO of Breast Cancer Trials, a leading breast cancer research charity that has saved and improved the lives of millions of people affected by breast cancer.

How are you breaking bias in your work?

Leading by example, ensuring everyone feels included, safe and valued, no stereotyping or discrimination tolerated and celebrating our diversity.

What advice would you give to others trying to break bias? 

Try not to make assumptions, make sure you look at all the information before making decisions and be open to hearing other people’s views, one person does not have all the answers.

Richenda Vermeulen

Richenda is the CEO and founder of ntegrity, a marketing agency that helps not-for-profit and purpose-driven organisations create a better future.

How are you breaking bias in your work?

ntegrity has grown as a majority-female, for-purpose organisation in a digital industry that is overwhelmingly male and commercial. Essentially, everything about ntegrity is about breaking bias.

There is space for an agency with young, female leadership. 

There is space for women to see other women lead.

There is space for an agency that chooses to prioritise the not-for-profit sector.

There is space for not-for-profit work to be the best work. 

I break bias by creating space for my company, my goals and my beliefs.

What advice would you give to others trying to break bias?

Tune out what other people think of you and change your relationship with perfectionism. The only reason I was able to start a business young was because I chose to ignore people who said it couldn’t be done. I created the space for it. 

Stop caring about what others think of you and be kind to yourself. It’s all about trying - growing something and building something is not a safe zone.

Caroline Scully

Caroline is the Deputy Director of Alumni Engagement at Monash University. Monash University’s Alumni program offers a range of professional development and mentoring opportunities. 

How are you breaking bias in your work?

I work at a university and it can be a serious place with old ways of working. The old ways of working can include being formal vs. casual, big words vs. plain speak, averting eyes if you walked into a lift with a VP, daring to address a senior person by their name vs. title…so much of this didn't sit comfortably with me, particularly the notion that adherence to these traditional ideals were required to be good at your job. 

I do all the things that the “serious people” don't do. My style is open and collaborative, with a side serve of good will and humour. While I am a little (ok a lot) louder than my colleagues, I have carved out a place for myself and others here. It is totally possible to be awesome at your job while being authentic about who you are and what you represent. 

What advice would you give to others trying to break bias?

Be professional. Always…but be light, there’s enough heaviness in the world at the moment. Focus on how you can contribute to a better experience for the people around you and keep top of mind how your behaviour impacts their day. 

Oh, and smile…the power of this simple gesture never ceases to amaze me!

Lisa Green

Lisa is the Strategy Lead at ntegrity, and she has worked with many not-for-profits during her career in the sector.

How are you breaking bias in your work?

As a disabled woman, breaking bias is part of my life - I’m really proud that it’s also part of my work. 

Whether it’s fighting gender bias in medical research, amplifying the voices & stories of disabled women in public conversation, advocating for policy change in government, or building understanding of equity & inclusion in my own workplaces – I’ve been really lucky and proud to spend most of my career challenging bias and working to reform systems that perpetuate it.

What advice would you give to others trying to break bias?

Get yourself a strong support network. Breaking bias is daily work for so many women, and it can feel exhausting and endless. But when you do it alongside people who will stand by you, speak up with you, and fight for you, it can be the best work you ever do.