Breaking the bias on International Women’s Day

08 March 2022
Some of SMCT's female team members
Role diversity at its best (left to right): Lea Grier, Centre for Care & Wellbeing facilitator; Martha Gaspar, Café Vita et flores Chef de partie; Lisa Brand, Operations Leader - Horticulture; Julie Miller, Customer Experience Business Support Specialist.

This International Women’s Day (IWD), we are taking a moment to celebrate equality and diversity by reflecting on the many roles women play to support our organisation and community.

The theme of IWD 2022 is breaking the bias: all the ways we can work together to build a world free of stereotypes and discrimination and where difference is valued and celebrated.

At SMCT, we are very lucky to have women represented across every facet of our operations, and we feel very privileged to be able to contribute, even in a small way, to breaking down the barriers to inclusion and the stereotypes associated with roles in male-dominated industries.

With more than a dozen women supporting our outdoor operations team, undertaking everything from gravedigging to lawn maintenance, our goal is to build a welcoming place for all.

Diverse teamwork makes the dream work

Horticulture Operations Leader, Lisa Brand, is proud of her team and what she’s witnessed in her three and a half years at SMCT.

‘It’s a very supportive workforce, no matter who you are,’ she said.

Some of SMCT's talented operations team
Some of our talented operations team (left to right, back row to front): Kelly Nunn, Lisa Brand, Anna-Marie Accadia, Aimee Burton and Melinda Connolly

‘When I first came here in a ground crew role, it was daunting because it was a very male-dominated area,’ Lisa explained. ‘But the number of women in outdoor roles has continued to increase over the years.’

‘We went from having five women in the team just a couple of years ago, to now having around 12, including a female gravedigger.’

Lisa said she expects this trend to continue in the coming years.

‘We interview based on skills, not gender, and it’s absolutely fantastic that more women are applying who are skilled up and able to do the role.’

SMCT's operations team hard at work pruning, hand weeding and maintaining our garden beds
Our operations team hard at work pruning, hand weeding and maintaining our garden beds (left to right): Melinda Connolly, Cheryl Kessels, Danielle Noel

Café Vita el flores (Latin for ‘life and flowers’) is another place where gender and role diversity has helped shape one of SMCT’s favourite community hubs.

Whether it’s serving customers and running events, or working behind the scenes creating mouthwatering dishes, organising elegant functions or creating beautiful floral arrangements, it is the diversity within Café Vita that allows it to continually innovate and attract customers.

Some of the women of SMCT's hospitality team
Some of the amazing women of our hospitality team (left to right): Courtney Cassels, Necca Vacher, Emily Harrison, Ruth O’Connor, Jayde Stow and Martha Gaspar.

A plan for equality

While we are proud of our inclusive culture, our work in the diversity space is just beginning. In the coming weeks, we will be excited to present our Gender Equality Action Plan (GEAP), which we will use to build towards an even more diverse and inclusive future for all genders.

Our soon to be unveiled GEAP, will illustrate both what we are doing now, and our plans moving forward, to strive for true gender equality within our workforce.

‘SMCT is very culturally diverse and has a culture of respect—we value every person and every perspective,’ explained James Balazs, the GEAP’s champion and one of its driving forces.

‘Our GEAP gives us an opportunity to leverage this. It also means growing visible leadership commitment to diversity and inclusion, enhancing our inclusive workplace culture and growing a balanced representation of women, men and gender diverse employees across the entire organisation.’

‘Our GEAP is about equality, freedom and diversity,’ said James. ‘It’s about equality of rights, opportunities, responsibilities and outcomes for persons of different genders and about freedom from limiting and harmful stereotypes - recognising that gender equity, diversity and inclusion benefit everyone. This strengthens our ability to think creatively and respond to our customers and communities across Victoria.’

Some of the initiatives included in the GEAP include parental leave enhancements that will improve access and paid benefits for primary and secondary carers. The GEAP will also introduce a Diversity and Inclusion Committee that will ensure SMCT continues to provide inclusive opportunities to all employees and members of our community, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, age or ability.

‘We are doing a lot already,’ James said. ‘This is about building on what we’ve done and becoming stronger through greater diversity and inclusion.’

Stay tuned for the unveiling of our Gender Equality Action Plan in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, we would like to say a very special thank you to all the women who are helping to #BreakTheBias by excelling in non-traditional roles, and to all those standing for equality, inclusion and diversity. From our SMCT family to yours, Happy International Women’s Day!

SMCT's outdoor team
Our stellar outdoor team (left to right): Aimee Burton, Lisa Brand and Melinda Connolly.
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