Event recap: Westpac Smarts – Building workplaces where women thrive

Our latest Westpac Smarts event took place on International Women's Day with the theme building workplaces where women thrive.

We are grateful for the sponsorship of Westpac of the Westpac Smarts series. And to our MC for this event, Senga Allen, Founder and Managing Director of Everest People, and the panelists, Reuben Tucker, General Manager of Institutional and Business Banking at Westpac, Rachel Karalus, Chief Executive, K'aute Pasifika Trust and Vanessa Richmond, General Manager, Philips Search and Rescue Trust.

Watch a replay of the panel discussion on our video platform, or read a summary of the event below.

The theme, building workplaces where women thrive, ensured a large turnout and spirited discussion at the end with the audience.

Discussing Westpac’s journey, Reuben Tucker kicked off by saying that Westpac have work to do to build an outstanding workplace where women thrive but they were making progress. That progression was endorsed with anecdotes by several Westpac staff members during the audience Q&A. Traditionally, in banking, management roles were predominantly filled by men, and front line service roles by women. Despite Westpac’s efforts to promote balance in recent years, including growing more than half of their leaders to be women, a disparity remains. Their website has a number of commitments to gender pay KPIs.

Rachel Karalus from K’aute Pacifika Trust picked up the theme and spoke eloquently about the successes and challenges to get gender pay equity faced by Pacifika women in particular.

Despite a Pacifika deputy Prime Minister in Carmel Sepuloni, Pacifika women consistently sat at the bottom of the pay equity stakes, but like Westpac she saw that Pacifica women were on a journey to achieve parity of opportunity, jobs and pay. The landscape was changing as Pacifika women are becoming a valued and respected part of the business community.

Vanessa Richmond, the Group Manager of the Philips Search and Rescue Trust, leads a team that is solely women and spoke about trying for many years to balance the gender numbers but changing to simply getting the right people on the bus regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion. The meritocracy approach had led to an enormously high achieving team that just happened to be all female.

Senga Allen followed on from the panellists by reflecting on her journey in the recruitment industry and how many women she met were captured by Imposter Syndrome which was well covered by this Herald article & podcast. The lack of confidence has to be shaken off. Women need to believe in themselves and apply for jobs with a sense of real self-worth and passion. So often in the past women candidates chose not to apply when they had 8 out of 10 of the prerequisite skills, whilst a male with 6 out of 10 would say “I can do that”.


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