Women of Colour Conference

#ColourFull, Advancing women of colour in leadership and Entrepreneurship.


Introducing ColourFULL – Australia’s first leadership and entrepreneurship conference for women of colour!

If you are a woman of colour and you want to:

  • Take your career to the next level
  • Be a leader of impact and influence
  • Create change in your life and find your next job
  • Take action and be supported to turn your dreams into a reality
  • Create a profitable business
  • Network and join a community of powerful and ambitious women of colour
  • Attend a conference and hear from inspiring women of colour speakers
  • Attend an event where women of colour ARE the focus, are recognised and rewarded

Then this event is for you!

If you are an ally (non-woman of colour) and you want to:

  • Hear from women of colour first hand regarding barriers they are facing
  • Learn strategies and solutions to support women of colour to advance in leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Develop skills to create opportunities and remove barriers for women of colour
  • Create a more diverse recruitment and talent pipeline
  • Support women of colour led startups

Then this event is for you!

#ColourFULL is inclusive of all beautiful non-binary, all abilities and transgender people.

Get the below & more by attending #ColourFULL and take your life to the next level:

  • Feel the energy of being in a room with over 600 incredible, powerful, driven and ambitious women of colour and network your heart away! Form friendships, feel supported through a like minded community, find mentors, business partners and more!
  • Receive an exclusive and powerful Made for More! strategy action book to work through at the conference, which will give you an action plan to move your career/business and life forward with abundance and prosperity.
  • Receive free resources, templates, tools, strategies, freebies to amplify your career, business and life.
  • Get 1:1 personalised feedback, mentoring & advice on your resume, LinkedIn profile, interview skills, job applications and personal branding through our careers hub.
  • Get a professional headshot to put on your LinkedIn profile, website etc.
  • Get 1:1 personalised feedback, mentoring and advice on your business/side hustle/startup through our entrepreneurship hub.
  • Learn how to leverage what makes you unique and create a brand and story that positions you and your career/business as a leader in your chosen field.
  • Grow and expand your networks and therefore your ‘net-worth’ through a like-minded community who will help you prosper, grow and succeed.
  • Create a unique and powerful personal brand that impacts, inspires & influences others.
  • Get a mentor, sponsor or coach to feel genuinely supported & create a support network who will be your number 1 cheerleader, open networks and opportunities for you.
  • Get instant access to #ColourFULL awards and ‘see it so you can be it’.
  • Attend an incredible event in a gorgeous event space in Melbourne CBD.
  • Learn now to advance women of colour in your organisation strategically and operationally.
  • Increase your recruitment and talent pipeline through attending an event filled with talented and skilled women of colour who are eager to advance in their career.
  • Increase the diversity of your investment portfolio through attending an event filled with incredible ideas and startups that are ready to scale.

Date & Time: 1 December 2020 (8.30am-7.30pm)

Agenda: For a copy of the program please email us at hello[at] Scroll down to see our amazing line up of speakers (Shhhhh…..someone said that there might be a surprise international speaker!).

Expect sessions on:

  • Business storytelling to amplify and influence others.
  • Personal branding to stand out and stick out.
  • Leveraging networks mentors and sponsors.
  • Finding the warrior within and daring to dream.
  • Levelling up our mindset to accelerate our career and businesses
  • Speed mentoring and networking session – grow your networks and meet incredible women of colour!
  • How to find and start your side hustle.
  • Scaling your (profitable!) business.
  • Being a woman of colour leader; identity and owning who you are in the workplace.
  • Financial independence: how to earn it, grow it and retire early.

Note: Speakers, sessions and session times are subject to change without notice due to the nature of running events.

Location: RMIT Capitol Theatre, Melbourne Australia. Expect a crowd of +600 to gather at this luxurious and beautiful venue!

More info at this link: ColourFULL 2020


Kausar Sreckov Profile

Kausar Sreckov

Growing up in a family of three in the beautiful island of Mauritius, at the age of 2, Kausar suffered from encephalitis and lost all mobility to walk, sit and speak. With several years of physio and speech therapy, Kausar got control over her sitting and around 90% of her speech. She was also able to stand using the support of a walking frame. Kausar started school at the age of 5 where she progressed successfully. She has not let her disability be a barrier to her normal daily living. She is a real fighter. Finishing year 12, she joined Mauritius Institute of Training and Development as an Administration Officer and Executive Assistant to the CEO.  

Kausar has been a dedicated employee with good attitude, always punctual, very efficient in whatever she touches. She was reporting to both the divisional manager of Corporate Affairs and the CEO. She had great tactful solving skills. In all she was a very good asset to the organisation and helped in the smooth running of my department. The barriers she had was the roads which were not accessible, so she was not able to go anywhere except to work and back home. 

After 8 years of service at MITD, Kausar decided to move to Melbourne, in 2011 where she would pursue her Bachelor of Business (Human Resources Management). Arriving in Australia, her family bought her a mobility scooter and Kausar became fully independent. Shortly after few months, she met the love of her life, Lazar. The two have been together ever since. She graduated in October 2014 and made her whole family and partner proud. Her partner has been of constant help and support in all aspects of her life. 

Between 2014 to 2019, she did not have work rights, so she helped her partner with Mindfulness Awareness. They got married in May 2016 and continued their life together. After promoting Mindfulness in Sydney and Brisbane, they moved back to Melbourne. Kausar then took on some humanitarian volunteer jobs. She started to volunteer for 6 months for a Migration Agent, then joined Red Cross in May 2018 where she was a Recruitment and Administration Volunteer in the Emergency department. In November 2018, she moved to the HR department as a Disability Champion.  While undertaking 2 days a week volunteer in Red Cross, she also joined Australian HR Institute where she volunteered another two days a week. Her volunteering had helped her to develop new HR skills and knowledge.  

On the 17 January 2019, she was finally granted her full work rights visa. She joined Dual Foods Pty Ltd in February on a one-month contract as an Administration Officer.  This was her first paid job. Following this contract, and after few months of constant rejections, she landed into a 6 week long service leave contract at Melbourne Airport. Her latest work included working as a team to assist the People and Experience team at Melbourne Airport to improve accessibility for travellers with disability. She conducted general tour of the whole airport to compile the different changes needed to make the accessibility of both travellers and employees better. She prepared a report on workplace amendments to support employees and travellers with disabilities, that was well received by Melbourne Airport executives. 

Kausar is part of the UN and was on the board of Training and Employment of Disabled Persons Board back in Mauritius where she contributed a lot to the welfare and advocacy for people with disability. As a professional Administrator and a Disability Champion, Kausar has acquired a variety of experience in both the commercial and educational settings. Throughout her career, she has acquired a variety of qualifications and experience in both the commercial and educational settings. 

Kausar’s husband suffers from anxiety and depression and he cannot work. She is the sole income earner of the household. She currently uses mobility scooter to move around. Her career focus has been to assist Manager’s and teams with her abundant experience in business, administration, human resources, marketing and more.  Through her disability, she has been able to deliver good outcomes. But as many people with disability, she still struggles to find work for herself so that she can find security, whilst volunteering and giving her time to help others with disability. 

We can often get lost in a sea of plans and strategies to improve accessibility, inclusion and equity in organisations. It’s our connection through these stories that make us see and recognise the person and not the disability.  These stories inspire us to continue working to achieve equality and inclusion for all people, as Kausar continues to do. 

Kausar has agreed to provide her contact details and is happy to hear from you.
0452 077 867  


Diversity in Leadership – Where are the Outcomes for People with Disability?

Thanks Christina Ryan and Mark Glascodine for sharing years of knowledge and practice to deliver an informed, engaging and inspiring session that should provide the catalyst to accelerate people with disability in leadership. Powerful storytelling and interaction.

EEON would like to thank those who came along to the event. We hope you enjoyed it.

We were fully booked and for the first time, ran out of chairs. We also asked people to take their phones out during session to post learnings on social media. The event was live captioned and a copy of the transcript can be obtained by emailing

Some great takeaways and quotes include:

“Everybody knows that culture comes from the top. If you don’t have buy in from your executive team, from your CEO and your executive team you’re not going anywhere with changing culture, with shifting it, with it becoming more inclusive. So we need people with disabilities in those spaces.”

“We need to be in the boardrooms, we need to be in the executive leadership teams. If we’re not there, we’re not going to get anywhere. We can be talking about inclusion policy until the cows come home, it won’t do anything if we don’t have people at the top”

“People talk for us, but very rarely are we the ones in the room speaking for ourselves, particularly in rooms of power”

“There are very ableist expectations about what leadership should look like.”

“Honestly, it’s about making the decision and doing it. That’s how we’ve done it in other fields, it’s time we did that in disability. This is not rocket science.”


4th Annual Workforce Inclusion and Diversity Conference

The 4th Annual Workforce Inclusion and Diversity conference is back!

This leading conference, back for the fourth year running, features over 35 diverse speakers, 7 solution-focused case studies, and a number of interactive panels, roundtable sessions and inspirational keynotes to help you to implement best practice D&I strategies at Account1.

  • Key speakers on this year’s agenda include:
    Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Senator for Victoria
    Harriet Shing, MP Parliamentary Secretary for Mental Health, Equality and Creative Industries
    Div Pillay, Chief Executive Officer, Mindtribes National Chair, NSW Diversity and Inclusion
    Zita Adut Deng Ngor, Chief Executive Officer, Department Of Human Services, Women’s Legal Service (SA)
    Tony Walker, Chief Executive Officer, Ambulance Victoria
    Lisa Annese, Chief Executive Officer, Diversity Council Australia
    Steve Gollschewski, Deputy Commissioner (Crime, Counterterrorism and Specialist Operations), Queensland Police Service
    Sue McGready, Director General Defence Force Recruiting, Australian Defence Force
    Roman Ruzbacky, Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Practitioner, President of EEON

Benefit from a high-impact, take-away focused and in-depth agenda, covering:

  • Workplace Flexibility, Wellbeing and Mental Health
  • Developing an Intersectional Approach to D&I
  • Leadership Development for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • Empowering Women in the Workplace
  • Neurodiversity for Innovative Business Decisions
  • LGBTQIA+ inclusive initiatives
  • Inclusive Recruitment, Retention and Development
  • Promoting Religious and Cultural diversity
  • Enabling Employees with Disabilities to Thrive

And more. Download the brochure here for the full program or visit the website here.


To register, click here and apply VIP discount code: EEON-10.

There’s also early bird rates and generous group discounts for you to enjoy as well.

View rates and packages here.

Organised by Aventedge | Follow on LinkedIn & Twitter


Intergenerational Diversity and Exclusion – Lifting the Cloak of Invisibility

Many organisations across Australia now see Diversity and Inclusion as a business imperative that contributes to productive and happy workplaces. McKinsey suggested that gender and ethnic diversity are clearly correlated with profitability. With greater diversity (cognitive and by attribute), including diversity conscious and inclusive practices, job satisfaction, job engagement, career development opportunities and retention improves. Homogenous teams have their limitations in design, problem solving and decision making.

In the last few years organisations have become better at sharing their diversity and inclusion strategies, gender, accessibility and LGBTIQ action plans on the internet. Having access to this useful information is helping to move the dial. When you search for a gender action plan, you will find over a hundred plans. However, when you search for an age and/or intergenerational action plan, there is not much information on-line.

Intergenerational diversity still appears to be in the shadows of other strategies, receiving minimal exposure in mainstream D&I practice in organisations. There doesn’t appear to be a concentrated and collective effort in developing a strategy encompassing four generations in workplaces. The same could be said about culturally and linguistically diverse action plans, which I wrote about a few years ago. This is probably due to many organisational prioritising other areas of work. D&I practitioners usually spin a lot of plates at the same time. Running a D&I program is a huge feat layered with complexity and emotion.

Finding an evidence-based approach or model that looks at leveraging and fully utilising our generational diversity is not easy to do. I have read some work and strategies on life-stages, mature age workers 45+ and transitioning into retirement. I know a few people who have been researching and working in this area since the early 2000s (Z. Fell & P. Taylor) to name a few. I have been reading and collecting D&I articles for some years now and my age diversity library is quite thin! I expect a flood of strategies to be messaged to me after this read.

I’ve haven’t read through the details of the 496-page Australian Human Rights Commission’s Willing to Work Report, the National Inquiry into Employment Discrimination Against Older Australians and Australians with Disability (2016). I have also refrained from quoting the Age Discrimination Commissioner, the Hon Dr Kay Patterson AO, whom I have heard numerous times on radio and in newsprint, talking about persistent age discrimination in employment and those seeking employment. We could also look at median ages of organisations and workforce participation rates for different age cohorts to probably give us a fuller picture of who is being excluded.

“I have met older Australians who have sent out 200 resumes without one interview, or who are told to dye their grey hair if they want to keep their job, or whose employer can’t see the point of training them to stay relevant in their field.” …KP

I think we can easily underestimate the impact of age discrimination and exclusion. Older workers falling victim to ‘grey ceiling’ discrimination (Martin) or younger workers not being able to secure their first job. According to The New Work Reality report, 60 per cent of 25 year-olds enter the workforce with a degree. Despite this, 35 per cent are unemployed and underemployed because they are told that they do not enough work experience, lack an appropriate education of have poor career management skills.

Workplaces have changed over time. When my parents (Baby Boomers) were working in the 1970s and 1980s, they thought they had a job for life. They had job security and one wage could support a family. I remember my father telling me that in the late 1970s, he could quit his job in the morning and get another one in the afternoon, usually in the same street or suburb. But once they found a good place to work they stayed there for over 20 years. Working for one company and demonstrating loyalty was good advice from a Baby Boomer to a Gen-Xer back then.

In the early 2000s, both my parents were made redundant a few years apart. One after being given a golden watch for 25 years of service and being replaced by a machine. The other, made redundant after 23 years of service because the organisation failed to keep up with the times. Fast forward to the next two generations. People seem to work and move on every one to two years. Increased casualisation of the workforce and fixed term contracts, as well as increased competition, has made the workplace a different place today. This uncertainty and vulnerability impacts one’s economic security, well-being and self-worth.

Let’s talk about intergenerational diversity and exclusion:

I have waited a long time to write an article about intergenerational diversity and exclusion. And with some experience as a diversity and inclusion practitioner behind me, as well as my lived experience of inclusion and exclusion in various settings, I wanted to provide some insights on intergenerational diversity from a recent round table discussion.

Rather than providing a totally biased view on intergenerational diversity and exclusion, the opportunity arose through a series of round-table discussion, that helped me to glean more information on the subject and also present other people’s views. I wanted to examine more deeper-seated issues, such as, intergenerational exclusion, including under-representation, under-utilisation, discrimination (or unconscious bias), exclusion and generational clumps and clusters in pockets of organisations. It’s a subject that still feels taboo to talk about.

Making sweeping statements and generalisations about different generations is easy to do, as you will read further on. However, it feels awkward and uncomfortable to call out ‘age discrimination’ or ageism. Like the other isms, sexism and racism, we get a little uncomfortable when we need to talk about it. I have often heard the statement, I don’t see racism around here, but when you feel excluded because of your race, you just do. And when you feel excluded or invisible because of your age, you just do.

Ageism and exclusion cuts across all generations.

On one hand, as a younger worker, you might be familiar with the following scenarios and statements, for example, “you don’t have enough experience”, “you show maturity beyond your years”, your ideas not being heard by senior management, or being the youngest leader in the room in an executive team with that has no age diversity.

On the other hand, as an older worker, you may be familiar with the following scenarios, for example, being told that you are over-qualified or over- experienced, or failing to get a job when you can demonstrate all the criteria, or being overlooked for career advancement opportunities, or rarely receive appropriate recognition for the contributions you make, or see younger people with titles of senior in them. One of my favourite movies is the Intern with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway, where De Niro is part of an intern program hiring older workers and his boss Hathaway is about 50 years younger than him. He went from invisible and useless, to being integral in the company, without worrying about issues around status.

Looking at issues in relation to intersectionality, age and other attributes can compound discrimination. For example, age and sex discrimination can play out together for women between 25-40. Think, potential pregnancy, pregnancy, parental leave, returning from parental leave and child rearing, and how this may contribute to gender imbalance in leadership. And on the other hand, we have heard the term, stale male and pale, being used to describe our politicians.

Insights from a roundtable activity

I’d now like to present some interesting insights from two 30-minute roundtable activities conducted with two groups of practitioners at a recent Organisational Development conference. I asked both teams to identify and unpack key issues on the theme of Intergenerational inclusion and engagement through a series of exercises.

But first, I asked both groups to complete a survey and rate the following questions between 1 and 10,

· Does your organisation have a strategy (or action plan) on intergenerational diversity?

· Do you personally feel that intergenerational diversity is an area of work needing attention in your organisation?

· What is your current knowledge, skills and experience of intergenerational diversity?

· Is there enough generational diversity in our working group?

I also asked participants to identify their strongest cognitive ability from the list below,

· Social – Intuitive about people, Socially aware and Relational

· Structural – Practical thinker, Likes guidelines, Predictable

· Analytical – Clear thinker, Logical Problem solver, Rational

· Conceptual – Imaginative, Visionary, Intuitive, About ideas

I grouped participants based on their cognitive strengths and abilities (cognitive diversity) and got them to work on four tasks in twenty minutes. I was aiming to bringing together multi-disciplinary teams to unpack and solve complex issues, a high performing team, all working to their strengths. I wonder if management teams fully utilise the diverse and often hidden cognitive abilities of their workforce and transcend positional status to do so?

The participants are shown in figures 1a (Group A) and 1b (Group B) below. I can provide a text transcript of these images on request to make them accessible. Please message me if you would like me to do this.

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Figure 1a. Group A workings

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Figure 1b. Group B workings

The results show the following trends:

· Most people did not have a strategy on intergenerational diversity in their workplace

· Most people personally felt that it was an area of work needing attention

· Their current knowledge, skills and experience in intergenerational diversity was quite low

· The first group rated themselves (on average) 4/10 for the level of generational diversity in their working group, compared to (on average) 6/10 for the second working group.

Addressing complex issues in relation to equity, exclusion, discrimination and unconscious bias requires a diverse mix of people in the room to be able to solve them. So, what does this generally say about how organisations approach solving complex issues? Is there enough diversity in the room? Are we aware of our potential limitations if we don’t have enough generational diversity in our leadership? Are workplaces getting the most and the best from their people?

The four exercises

Once the cognitive diverse teams were assembled, I got them to complete the following tasks and their workings are shown below.

Social Group

I asked the group with strong social cognitive abilities to recall some of their own workplace experiences relating to intergenerational diversity, inclusion and exclusion, including stereotypical comments they may have overheard, including examining their own biases. Their workings are shown below:

Figure 2a. Group A – social group workings

Figure 2b. Group B – social group workings

So now that you’ve had had a chuckle over these statements, or felt slightly offended, what does it tell you about what people might be really thinking in your workplace? I felt that anonymity helped to free up conversations. Does your workplace make time and space to unpack these issues?

And, based on the assumptions and stereotypes captured in this exercise, are you conscious of your own surroundings and making impartial and objective decisions in your recruitment, career development, promotion opportunities?

Structural Group

I asked the group with strong structural cognitive abilities to write down some of the benefits of generational diversity can bring to the workplace and how it may make workplaces inclusive and their people more engaged. I also ask the group to write down some of the impediments and limitations of not having intergenerational diversity and inclusion in their workplace. Their workings are shown below:

Figure 3a. Group A – Structural Group Workings

Figure 3b. Group B – Structural Group Workings

A preliminary analysis of the working indicates that generational diversity and inclusion appears to have the following benefits including:

· Enhancing your organisation or team’s ability to be better equipped at problem-solving, design and service delivery

· Being able to reach your target audience or customer base which is likely to be diverse

· Utilising a wider range of accumulated skills and knowledge

· Reducing group think

· Having a more socially cohesive group

· Openness to different working and communication styles

The benefits of generational diversity could also be measured through culture surveys, that indicate levels of job satisfaction, employee engagement, career development and retention from different generational cohorts. I would have liked a deeper exploration of the benefits, but as indicated previously, participants didn’t rate their knowledge, skills and experience highly before this exercise.

Analytical Group

I asked the group with strong analytical cognitive skills to take a deep dive into intergenerational diversity, inclusion and exclusion, and look at identifying some of the complexities that would need to be considered when designing an intergenerational inclusion strategy.

They considered the intersection of age with other diverse attributes, for example, age/disability, age/sex (potential pregnancy, parental leave and return from career breaks), the sandwich generation (i.e., those with parental responsibilities for dependent children and caring responsibilities for ageing or sick parents). They also considered different contexts and challenges and tried to uncover any ‘diversity blind’ practices, for example, policies before All Roles Flex was introduced and flexibility embedded in organisations. A lot of discussion occurred within these groups, but there was not enough time to capture these.

This raised another interesting point. How to solve a complex issue under pressure and with time constraints? Do we spend time to read and research in our work environments? Do we make time for deeper reflection?

Figure 4. Group A and B Analytical Group Workings

Conceptual Group

I asked the group with strong conceptual cognitive skills to explore career life cycles and trajectories through different generational lenses. They had to consider the different stages of a person’s career, any pressure points that may affect a person reaching their full potential, for example, recruitment, promotion, flexibility, career interruptions, personal or organisational changes. The group had to also consider workplaces of the future.

Figure 5a. Group A Conceptual Group Workings

Figure 5b. Group 2 Conceptual Group Workings

So, what did we learn here? What appears to be consistent in both groups’ deliberations, was the point that career trajectory was not always linear. Disruption and change appeared to feature in both group’s workings. The two groups seemed to approach the task differently, one focusing on a cyclic career trajectory, where the other contemplated a person having multiple careers and having to reinvent or re-skill themselves. The other group looked at critical stages and pressure points of one’s working life and contemplated the personal and professional changes one might experience, some due to personal choices and others not.

Where do we go from here?

In bringing the groups together after each round table session, we were able to establish some of the key learnings from the exercises, including:

  • Understanding age-based assumptions and stereotyping: including having uncomfortable conversations
  • Fostering intergenerational dialogue encouraging collaboration and knowledge sharing: generations learning from each other
  • Promoting greater understanding and respect between generations
  • Avoiding under-utilisation of skills, exclusion and discrimination
  • Bringing four generations of people in workplaces together in purposeful and mutually beneficial ways

I hope, that in a year or two, my intergenerational inclusion library will grow with plenty of action plans and strategies to choose from. And, that with four generations in our workplaces, that we break down any barriers and find commonality and appreciation of our strengths and differences.

By Roman Ruzbacky

June 1, 2019

This article was originally published on LinkedIn: Go to article.


Do We Believe This Is The Best Men Can Be?

by:  Tamara Seif, Principal, Gravitas Consulting Services

Gillette’s latest video advertising campaign for its men’s razors with the title: “We believe: The best men can be …” has evoked outrage in some circles for demonising of the male gender as intrinsically bad and incapable of refraining from horrible and unacceptable behaviour.

In fact, as recently pointed out by one of my professional colleagues, it is suggested that the video is simply a completely unjustified attack on masculinity and a negation of positive male attributes such as pride in own appearance and assertiveness.

Is it so?

From my perspective as an Inclusion practitioner this video depicts instances of male aggressiveness and somewhat offensive behaviour and calls upon responsible men to reject this type of behaviour openly and act without any hesitation. As the video narrator says: “Men can no longer hide from bullying or sexual harassment.”

This has also prompted me to challenge my own set of thinking and address a few biases. With a huge amount of recent social media postings and online interest, most people are taking a strong view either in support or against.

A number voiced opposition to either the fact that Gillette had chosen to wade into the ongoing #MeToo debate at all and for others the video was merely perceived as being hostile to the male gender.

The Gillete advert generated the further criticism that the manufacturer was guilty of taking an opportunistic ride on the wave of anger flowing out of the #MeToo movement and that this was just a cynical attempt to stir a public debate.

This again was perhaps a risky and perhaps not well thought through advertising strategy on the part of Gillette executives, as most of their competitors (at least so far) did not risk or display an appetite to thread into these somewhat unchartered waters.

But there are good reasons for manufacturers to show that they are in touch with today’s wider and global audiences – Gillette does not condemn men as a gender but rather points out that bullying and sexual harassment should be addressed and called out.

As we have just celebrated another International Women’s Day, no doubt many will take to their pens and look at sharing their stories of learning, painful or happy journeys. I can’t help reflecting on the example from Julie Bishop’s stunning recent revelations; her personal recollection of what she refers to as evident lack of support from her parliamentary colleagues on many counts in her professional career whilst in the cabinet right up until her last days.

I leave you with this thought whilst I continue to reflect on Gillette’s recent video. Do you feel that many of us are beginning to be part of an emerging school of thought where Gillette perhaps got it right – ‘Do we Believe this is The Best Men can be?”.

From my perspective, I prefer not to believe in this statement, as this is far from the best Men can or should be.
Whilst some may disagree with my personal reflection it is paramount that we all as professionals, parents, carers and citizens take responsibility to call out any inappropriate or undignified behaviour towards each other.

Never succumb to being an accomplice in silence!

Article written by: Tamara Seif, Principal, Gravitas Consulting Services and proud member of EEON


Engaging with the Backlash Towards Gender Equity Initiatives

Engaging with the backlash towards gender equity initiatives – insights from a male D&I practitioner

Do I really want to talk about backlash?

I was slightly apprehensive when asked to be recently interviewed about male backlash. It’s an issue that has been on the minds of diversity and inclusion researchers and practitioners for some time. Being familiar with some of the research and writings of Flood, Pease, Russell, Fox and Haussegger, et al., male backlash and its cousin, diversity fatigue, are entrenched and hard-wired behaviours.

The recent report, “Backlash & Buy-In”, by the Male Champions of Change consortium and Chief Executive Women, signed by over 150 male CEOs, suggests that male backlash is due to a lack of understanding of the business case for gender diversity, change fatigue, industry norms, cultural norms and fear.

I think there may be more to this.

As a D&I practitioner who has been working in gender equity since the late 90s, including developing gender equity strategies for organisations, managing discrimination and sexual harassment complaints, conducting numerous pay equity analyses, and preparing ten successful applications for the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) Employer of Choice Citation, I’m going to explore some of the reasons for male backlash from a male D&I practitioner’s lens. I will also give some practical tips for individuals and organisations to enter the conversation safely and disrupt and dismantle backlash.

What is male backlash?

I have always come across some form of resistance to diversity, inclusion and equity work. The overt form of resistance includes the predictable and hostile commentary on social media, usually after articles like these, and usually outside of D&I circles. I’m more used to the passive kind of backlash, either the one that shows up in anonymous culture surveys, for example,

“Men have been actively overlooked for advancement in the name of advancing gender equity within the organisation.”

But passive resistance also takes the form of a lack of effort by organisations to fast track gender equity initiatives in organisations, usually by resourcing it as you would a medical research team that was curing something that was thought to be impossible to cure. For anyone who has read qualitative comments in culture surveys, we can become immune to legitimate ‘issues’ being raised like a broken record. Structural or systemic issues still prevail. And when aspirational statements don’t match the effort or outcomes, then we see comments such as,

“Family friendly and flexible work arrangements are generally words that are used, but don’t actually mean much.“

….which then leads to cynicism….

“Laughable that this Organisation gets awards as a gender equity employer, tells you how bad things are…”

The ever-changing resistive narrative

Over time, the resistive narrative has changed from, “We don’t discriminate around here”, “’We had 1000 men and no women apply for the role”, “We’re all about merit based selection”, “We can’t find the right women for the role”, “We can’t find the women”, to, “I’m sick of looking around me and all I see are blokes”, “It’s all about being flexible’, to some admission and greater comfort in men examining their own privilege. This is where the narrative gets tricky, because, does publicly stating that you are a man of privilege remind women that you are on top?

I don’t want to be critical about this progressive narrative, because if you asked me about gender equity in my twenties, I would have given you a blank stare, so how can I expect others to be on board, if they haven’t explored the issue more deeply? Even though, I can still recall clear moments of my professional single migrant mother battling all kinds of structural gender inequities, from trying to get a bank card or loan, to buying a used car and not being taken seriously. I was still gender blind.

However, something has changed over the last few years. When the conversation shifted from ‘fixing’ women to ‘enabling’ women (thanks to Fox, et al), when many women found their voice in the #MeToo campaign, and when representative targets started to make it into gender equity action plans, the resistance from some men became louder and aggressive.

As organisations become more vocal about their support for gender equity, there has been increasing level of backlash by men, and we need to continue to develop and challenge these narratives.

What is the nature of the recent backlash towards gender equity initiatives?

The backlash is coming in a few different ways, which I would classify into three categories.

Outright anger: It has been perceived in some circles that the middle-aged white male has become an “endangered species”. So, every attempt to even the playing field is met by loud and aggressive opposition (usually by a vocal minority), including claims of reverse discrimination. Perhaps some may feel that they are losing grip on their power and privilege, where you think there should be room for people at the top with the recent and significant growth in Victoria.

Passive fear: Perhaps more and more men are supporting backlash passively, because they remain silent on the topic. Their backlash takes the form of avoidance or zero acknowledgement, meaning that they worry about saying the wrong thing and therefore tend not to engage or are uncomfortable in how to enter the conversation.

Concerns about being labelled: Men are uncomfortable when labelled or called out for being sexist, or ‘mansplaining, man-peating, gender-washing, and hijacking the gender agenda’. And some are uncomfortable for all men when this happens, so they then apologize on behalf of all men or accuse the person (usually women) of labelling all men as bad.

It seems that backlash is an intense form of resistance. Do you have examples of resistance to your work as a D&I practitioner?

When I first started working in gender equity, the resistance usually started from a reluctance by the organisation to establish an evidence base, for example, conducting a pay equity analysis, or looking at issues related to under-representation of women in leadership. I once conducted a pay equity analyses for an organization, but seeing how bad the results were, I was sworn to secrecy and the figures later fudged.

In another instance, I was involved in setting up a leadership program for women. A year after the program started, it was a spectacular success that it abysmally failed. The backlash came immediately and in stealth from some of the executive men, who now realized that this group of capable women might gain a seat at the leadership table. They worked swiftly to mothball and derail the program.

However, in the last decade, the intensity of effort in gender equity work has increased, our narrative matured and our collective consciousness lifted, so we have a better understanding of why we are doing the work and why the progress has been glacial for some time.

What are the reasons for the resistance to equality objectives?

There are a few reasons in my mind as to why backlash happens.

One major reason is many people don’t understand what the evidence is saying and so they tend to be dismissive of D&I initiatives. There may be a lack of a basic understanding of the key evidence, that shows under-representation, under-utilisation and discrimination (or a softer term, unconscious bias) that permeate society, and goes way back in time.

The “Stupid Curve” coined by former US Deloitte boss Mike Cook, demonstrates that Australian companies are still wasting a significant amount of the internal talent. Whilst, the percentage of women graduating from universities has been over 55% for the past 15 years (Alan Olsen), organisations still select nearly ~70% of their leaders (90% in 2008) from only 50% of the workforce (the male half). As a result, the other 50% (the female half) of the workforce is overlooked and underutilised.

There is a low consciousness of workplace gender issues. I once worked for an organisation that had an executive team of eight men and one woman, and an overall pay gap 20%. However, culture survey results showed that 95% of their employees (including the women) thought that their immediate supervisor genuinely supported equality between men and women. I couldn’t see how this result was even celebrated? I wondered if people had become used to the homogeneity and no longer saw anything wrong with it.

Our social conditioning (including the influence of social media) may contribute to how we perceive women in leadership, culture, power or authority, in an Australian context. The lack of diversity in politics, mainstream media, TV shows and commercials, helps to normalise stereotypes. And when women try to break through those stereotypes, they experience resistance.

Don’t make it personal. We have recently seen the emergence of powerful men advocating for change for gender equality, but in establishing their stake in the game, there appears to be a narrative that may need further refining, so that the message of why they are invested in gender equity is more than a personal issue, for example, having daughters that want a different or better future, or qualifying their interest by a narrative which doesn’t go deep enough. DeVries, suggests that organizational gender scholarship by male and female executives is critical to understanding the gendered nature of championing.

This knowledge can also impact the prioritising of gender equity in organisations (the gender agenda). For example, strategies that look at adopting gender neutral language and tackling sexism are important but need to be coupled with deeper structural and systemic issues, so that men don’t cherry pick issues in isolation to backlash against.

The other reason is that the conversation around targets and quotas, and positions designed for women-only, is perceived by some as too interventionist and a type of reverse discrimination. It has probably divided men and women alike. What they fail to understand is that targets and quotas are usually a last resort and introduced after years of gently nudging people towards equality outcomes or throwing everything and the kitchen sink into their strategies. I don’t’ recall an organisation going out of business because of gender targets or quotas at executive or Board level. The reason why targets and quotas are not well understood, is that people have usually leapt into a conversation about targets, without understanding what has come before the contemplation of targets.

Organisations that have good leadership, critical mass and back the work usually can reach gender parity in leadership without targets, by creating an equitable and genuinely inclusive work environment.

Gender equity is also about getting men into feminised industries. Demographer Bernard Salt analysed the top 100 jobs performed by men and women, as recorded in the census of 2011 and 2016. Not much had changed. The greatest positive shift was the increase in female train drivers. The top male professions for both the 2011 and 2015 census were: carpenters, plumbers, electricians, builders. For women, it was teachers, childcare, health and aged care.

Another reason is that men in the middle of the organisation are being left out of the gender equity conversation. With the emergence of men at the top of organisations now championing gender equity initiatives, there has been an absence of men in the middle of the organisation doing the same. A recent gender equity expert has suggested that a coalition of male CEOs and men and women in the middle of the organisation may help get more men engaged in gender equity.

Virginia Haussegger’s (Australian) research showed that 46% of men believe that gender equality strategies do not take men into account and that 42% of men and boys are increasingly excluded from measures to improve gender equality.

The last reason for the backlash is the lack of men in developing and driving D&I efforts may unconsciously exclude strategies to engage men and achieve gender equity, for example, parental leave provisions and encouraging men to work in traditionally feminized industries.

It’s been interesting to recently see women advocating for men, especially when it comes to new fathers. Does the messaging and imagery used to showcase recent articles on fathers fully explore the complexities of fatherhood. I have seen a lot of a good-looking bearded fathers holding their baby up in the air lately. My challenges have become more complex, and my needs for a supportive workplace, essential, as I’ve become sandwiched in the sandwich generation.

Men come in all shapes and sizes. Single fathers, step-fathers, foster fathers, fathers in a same sex relationship, men with multiple diversity dimensions, etc. Men who do not see themselves accurately represented in these situations, may feel excluded or misrepresented. And a further exclusion may also occur when we don’t consider LGBTIQ in the gender equity conversation too.

And finally, few men work in HR departments and D&I, where most gender equity work occurs. If we don’t have more men doing D&I work, then gender equity may still be perceived as a women’s issue.

How can organizations approach D&I differently to bring everyone on the journey?

Organizations need to see D&I/equity proficiency and practice as a key management attribute. I think there may be general lack of ‘gender scholarship’ or proficiency in workplaces. Does the layperson need some basic proficiency in the science/evidence of gender inequity? Just enough to know what is going on? I look at my partner’s superannuation statements after 20 years of working, compare these to mine, and they tell me enough.

With a quick search on the internet, I can find current gender equity data showing the under-representation and under-utilisation of women in Australian workplaces, in the Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s August 2018 Gender Workplace Statistics at a Glance report.
For organisations reporting to WGEA,

· Women hold 13.7% of chair positions and 24.9% of directorships and represent 16.5% of CEOs and 29.7% of key management personnel.
· Nearly three-quarters (71%) of reporting organisations have a male-only team of key management personnel, and
· 28.2% of directors in the ASX 200 are women

Having transparent organisational gender equity data would help to fast track the conversation in gender equity, giving a clear narrative and rationale to doing the work. Looking through your organisation’s cultural survey responses to see if gender is even mentioned, or whether issues around backlash exist, is also helpful.

Economic security and empowerment have recently become a focus in many organisations, including addressing issues in relation to superannuation, qualifying periods for parental leave, removal of parental leave labels, centralised maternity leave funds, child care availability and affordability, under-employment and over-representation in casual employment.

With Australia’s population boom, there is an increased pool of emerging talent coming to Australia. With this growth you would expect to see more room at the top (leadership) in some professions, for example, the finance, service, health, education, transport, hospitality and even building industries. Gender equity strategies may need to become more sophisticated and consider gender and race together, or gender and other diversity dimensions.

Finally, the lack of male engagement and self-initiation over the long course of D&I work leads me to believe that structured spaces are not created for the critical conversations about gender equity in workplaces and to invite men at all organisational levels to be part of gender equity conversations. These may need to be written into gender equity action plans, and I believe some have already.

Where to from here?
Male backlash is not a new phenomenon. And my initial apprehension to speak about it in public domain, makes me wonder if I should have given this issue any oxygen? Can I see those pitch forks and fire sticks over the horizon? They are probably there somewhere. Have I brought more men on board? Have I taken a stand against backlash? Has speaking about it prepared me to have a conversation with other men about backlash? I think it has.


Roman Ruzbacky

EEON President


Juliet Bourke: The Diversity and Inclusion Revolution

On October 9 EEON welcomed Juliet Bourke, speaking on the Diversity and Inclusion Revolution. It was exciting to see a packed house and so many new people join us for the informative and engaging presentation. It was a terrific session that focused on a leader driven approach to diversity & inclusion. If you’d like to learn more about the presentation, please check out: (accessible version)


Should Diversity Remain Top of the Recruitment Agenda?

Article by Tamara Seif Gravitas, EEON Committee Member 

According to annual HR CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, UK) 41% of business leaders and over 2,780 market executives across 21 countries (includes US, Canada and Australia) shows that there is global confidence in business growth, also positively impacting recruitment for diversity. Diversity has shot to the top of the recruitment agenda, with 41% of respondents citing it as the greatest hiring priority compared to only 11% in 2017. The report findings indicate that there is a strong correlation between CEOs prioritizing diversity as a recruitment objective and those with the least diverse executive teams.

For those companies who have already built diverse executive leadership, the focus is on talent with strong digital skills, according to the Growth Barometer. Over half (56%) of company leaders are looking to build digital competencies through new hires.

Majority of growth ambition is being driven from Asia Pacific region with four in ten companies in China, Southeast Asia and Australia beginning to  target double digit growth, some 13% more than the global average of 6%. (See Reference)

Mostly this is due to the race to embrace Intelligent Automation and Machine learning, whose markets have evolved rapidly since last year. In 2017, almost three quarters (74%) of global middle market CEOs said they would never adopt robotic process automation (RPA), yet just 12 months later 73% of respondents say they are already adopting or planning to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) within two years.

Secondly, Regulation is driving, not stifling Innovation

This year regulation has emerged as driving change not obstructing it. In a major shift in opinion, leaders from all sectors and regions, except in North America, regard regulation as a key driver of innovation (25%), topped only by profitability (27%).

Thirdly, Sector convergence accelerates

Industry convergence has risen as another major disruptive force to growth, with almost one in four global business leaders (23%) seeing it as second only to demographic shifts (33%) as having the most significant impact on business. Among US leaders, convergence is the top disruptive force to growth ambitions (31%).

And finally, Hiring for Diversity – Hiring diverse and skilled talent are key to growth ambitions.

In a show of confidence that growth is sustainable, 39% of companies plan to hire full-time talent in the next 12 months.

However, a lack of skilled talent remains a major cause for concern, especially in those in areas of the world where talent shortages have been exacerbated by skills flight, such as Brazil and Mexico.

Concerns over cash flow and funding remain

While access to credit continues to be an issue, this year company leaders cite insufficient cash flow as a more significant challenge, with more than one in three (35%) ranking it first with Women led- companies most significantly affected by a lack of funding, with nearly one in five (18%) citing access to capital as a major barrier to growth, compared to 11% of their male-led peers.


Tamara Seif is a highly experienced HR professional who has held senior strategic roles over her 17-year career. Commercially astute in change management and stakeholder engagement, Tamara has worked across many organisations in blue chip, government, health care, not-for-profits and SMEs across the UK and Australia. She is highly passionate about Gender Equality; Women on Board Leadership and also specialises in coaching organisations in Intersectionality, Cognitive Diversity and Unconscious Bias’. She is a member of a number of boards in the UK including Promediate UK and Equilibrium Consulting and supports a number of children’s charities. She can be found at


Equal Employment Opportunity Network – Get with the Program in 2018

………another year of insightful, educational, workplace changing events

“Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb”…Winston Churchill.

And so, begins another year of hope, optimism and will. The slow uphill climb, the painstaking pace of change, the uncertainty of what lays ahead, the journey. Small meaningful steps or bold moves. It all adds up.  

What has been remarkable in 2017 is the growth in our profession (diversity & inclusion & equity), the sharing of our knowledge and strategies, heightened awareness of D&I, a raised public consciousness, acts of individual and collective courage, campaigning and personal story telling. I can’t think of any area of diversity, inclusion and equity not significantly impacted in 2017.

However, as we build on these strengths, looking back – Have we engaged the unengaged? Have we permeated mainstream thinking and practices? Have we had the licence, autonomy and resources to act? Have we had the impact we wanted? Have all voices been heard in setting the agenda? Have we enabled? Have we shifted hearts and minds?


The Equal Employment Opportunity Network  is proud to be part of this journey.

We are a not-for-profit organisation that aims to creates opportunities for its members and supporters to learn and exchange information about current Diversity, Inclusion and Equal Employment Opportunity issues. We aim to provide a dynamic and supportive network and access to quality events and forums. We are based in Melbourne and have been serving the community for over 25 years.

In 2018, we’ll continue to create these opportunities and continue to add depth to the conversation. We promote fresh and innovative thinking through our monthly newsletters including, seminars, forums, latest research, articles, books, etc.,

In 2018, we are proud to bring you some stimulating, inspiring, thought provoking events, including:

  • 20 March event – Quietly Powerful Women – Unlocking Hidden Talent, Megumi Miki
  • Early May event – Dyslexia: Unlocking the hidden potential of 10% of every workforce, Zevi Inbar
  • June event – Same sex marriage – anticipated changes to work policies practices (speaker tbc)
  • AUGUST 7: One Day Summit: Learn, Think, Do
  • September event – Diversity & Inclusion in rural and regional settings, Bendigo (tbc)
  • October event – Diversity of thinking and collective Intelligence, Juliette Bourke
  • November event – theme Cultural & Linguistic Diversity – Tom Verghese (in partnership with Australian Intercultural Society)
  • Feb 2019 event – Age


Keep your diaries free for our second Diversity & Inclusion Summit (learn, think, do) on 16 August 2018 at Australia Post, Melbourne.  Please contact Michelle Green at for more information and to express your interest in attending. More on our website shortly.

In 2108, we are moving to a financial year membership arrangement, so please keep in mind 30 June 2018 for your membership renewal or for any new memberships. Securing membership will also give you a discounted ticket for the EEON Summit in August.

If you like to know more about EEON, please contact Michelle at

And, please subscribe to our mailing list:

Once again, we’d like to thank our sponsors Lander and Rogers who have continued to support EEON. Please follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

We look forward to welcoming you to EEON in 2018, as a member or as a participant at our events.


“Be part of the change you want to see in your organisations”


kind regards

Roman Ruzbacky

Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Practitioner

President – Equal Employment Opportunity Network – for a Diverse and Inclusive Workplace

Website: (see membership page)

About EEON

The Equal Employment Opportunity Network creates opportunities for professionals to learn, network, share their expertise and experiences and showcase examples of best practice in diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including emerging diversity issues. We encourage all members to provide feedback and suggestions for future events and webinars, and speakers.

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