Diversity & Inclusion
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Kate Hickman

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

33
Kate Hickman
Kate comes from a musical upbringing, with the ambition to become a career musician. When plans were halted early on due to an ongoing injury, the very unplanned career in professional industries began to unfold. Starting out as a receptionist, Kate is now a leader in HR at a global technology consulting organisation, and most importantly, a wife and mother to three beautiful children, and a daughter who grew her wings.
“What I am looking forward to seeing into the future is not just the 50:50 gender balance, but the 40:40:20 balance, bringing in even more diverse thought and leadership through non-binary leaders; creating an even more inclusive offering of products, services and culture.” — Kate Hickman

Tell us a little about yourself?

I come from a musical upbringing, with the ambition to become a career musician, piano being the major. When plans were halted early on due to an ongoing injury, the very unplanned career in professional industries began to unfold. Starting out as a receptionist in an insolvency firm, through to supporting the CEO of a big pharma, I gained exposure to many different people, roles and industries, before pivoting to develop into an organisational change leader, leading transformational change in a number of organisations. Through continuous growth and experience, I am now a leader in HR as Head of Talent and CSR at Capgemini Australia & New Zealand, a global technology consulting organisation, and most importantly, a wife of nearly 20 years and mother to three beautiful children (6yo & 3yo), and a daughter who grew her wings.

Who are the women who have inspired you the most in your life?

This sounds cliché, but my Mum is absolutely one of my inspirations. As a musician in her day, needing to put her passion down to put family first. She “pivoted” her career direction, creating a business of her own which, to this day still sees her teaching piano and imparting her passion and love for music to many students. Her guidance has always been that I could be and do anything, but to make sure I enjoyed it and found passion in it; she will also challenge me if she feels it is falling. You’ve got to have passion for what you do. For me, my passion is still music, but more so, my passion is people.

Why do you think it’s important to increase the number of women in business, particularly in leadership roles?

Women and men think differently, they are wired differently. Both bring considerable value to an organisations’ success, people leadership and viewpoints to the decision-making process. When approaching situations, decisions, women have greater ability to consider it on an emotional level, lead with more empathy, and as a role model leader, provide younger generations of women with the world of possibilities. Noting this is a broad generalisation, of course, some men do have the ability to do this also, and not all women can. What I am looking forward to seeing into the future is not just the 50:50 gender balance, but the 40:40:20 balance, bringing in even more diverse thought and leadership through non-binary leaders; creating an even more inclusive offering of products, services and culture.

What more can be done to support women in male-dominated industries?

  • Active allyship, particularly male-dominated workplaces, is vital to attracting and supporting women in the workplace. Starting with the basics of ensuring all policies, procedures, and roles are equal to all, yet take-action where “equity” is not met.
  • Invite the voice of women in the room, there are evidential benefits that women bring to an organisation, and in particular to roles where decisions are made, where they are leaders/role models.
  • Bust the myths that women feel holds them back; for example, are leadership roles less likely to be flexible? Are the processes that support career progression bias towards men? Do I have to be 110% ready to take on something new for fear of failing? If you can’t bust the myth, change the processes, perceptions and culture to overcome it.

What further steps can be implemented to encourage women supporting women?

At times women are too modest to share their stories and achievements. Women’s’ circles and storytelling are so powerful in creating a community of growth for women. It creates possibilities that may not have seemed possible before, helps women build connections and see alternate pathways to meet career ambitions, overcome challenges, address something top of mind, feel less isolated and most importantly build confidence that they too might have a story to share. It provides a forum to understand how other women have balanced their career, life outside of work, and families. These can also lead to creating mentoring relationships for ongoing connections and support.

How would you motivate women to “lean in”?

Create a safe environment where they feel valued, actively invite women to participate in high impact, high importance initiatives and take the time to listen to what they have to say. Celebrate their success, spread the word, and spotlight the female role models. Gender aside, people respond to different motivators, based on their needs and wants. Find out what they want, what drives them, then get them involved to make things happen!

How would you describe your current thinking about diversity and inclusion?

Diversity and inclusion are about all things. It’s what makes the world a rich place, allows us to continually grow to understand more about each other, and how we collectively contribute to society as it is today; be it a work setting or otherwise. The continued increase in awareness and acceptance of difference has allowed all of us to think beyond what we know, and what we understand. It also allows us to think about our own place in the workplace, personal circles and the communities we are involved in.

Ask yourself, what value do we bring from our diverse beliefs, characteristics and identity that others can value, learn from and respect. In turn, what can we learn, seek to understand, appreciate, embrace and respect of others? How can we be an ally for them?

Would you like to tell us a bit more about your thoughts/ comments?

These days “the world is your oyster” is even more true for our upcoming female talent. Where the stereotypical “roles” of women in the past are no longer, and there is a constantly growing world of acceptance that women and men can be equal. My daughter, currently 6yo said she wants to be a nurse. It’s interesting because the first thing that came to mind was, why not a doctor? I was worried she thought there was a gender delineation between the different career paths, so I asked her. Her response “nurses spend time to look after people and help them get better, take care of them, doctors you make an appointment.” Now that is a decent response. Mind you, she is now open to be an inventor too!

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