Diversity & Inclusion
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#WeLead Story

Lauren Adele Stevens

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

24
Lauren Adele Stevens
I am an Interior Designer and owner of Lauren Adele Design. I am the Founder and CEO of nonprofit organisation, Community Generation. I’m the owner of homewares store, Much Ado General Store. I’m a Radio Host on MainFM for the Friday morning show “In Maldon Today”, and most importantly, I’m a mother to my amazing and beautiful 13-year-old son.
“Women are powerful. Women are changemakers. Women are inspirational. Women are trailblazers. Women equal leaders.”

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am an Interior Designer and owner of Lauren Adele Design – an Interior Design Studio I launched in early 2010. Our body of work rests within the residential and hospitality sectors in Central Victoria and Melbourne. I am the Founder and CEO of nonprofit organisation, Community Generation. We’re an Australian organisation bringing clean drinking water, sanitation, hygiene education and vital resources to developing and vulnerable communities and schools in rural Cambodia. I’m the owner of homewares store, Much Ado General Store – a bricks-and-mortar home and lifestyle retail space in the historic town of Maldon. I’m a Radio Host on MainFM for the Friday morning show “In Maldon Today”, and most importantly, I’m a mother to my amazing and beautiful 13-year-old son. Together, we split our time between Australia, Cambodia and the soccer field.

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

I am inspired by qualities of grit, tenacity, intelligence, passion and kindness. I admire women who pursue multiple interests and careers, refuse to set limits, and live life on their own terms and with true purpose. Women being of value + making a positive difference in the lives of others and the world motivates me, as does the ability to continue to rise no matter how many times you are knocked down. For these reasons, I’m inspired in my life by women such as Malala Yousafzai, Ronni Kahn, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Diane Von Furstenberg, Shonda Rhimes and Ruth Bader Ginsberg. All of these strong, talented, courageous and hardworking women simultaneously empower and champion other women and girls to be seen, heard, uplifted and wholeheartedly brave with their lives.

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

Women are half the planet. However, in virtually all sectors of the paid workforce, women are underrepresented in leadership positions. When women are empowered and given opportunity, they immeasurably ameliorate the lives of everyone around them – their families, their communities and their countries. Data shows that more women in key decision making positions delivers higher company performance, better productivity and greater profitabilty. It’s not rocket science, women in leadership is smart business. Women are critical tools to ignite the growth of a company. When you see a flourishing and engaged community or workplace, you see successful girls and women.

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

Women are making impressive and remarkable impacts in fields that have historically catered to male employees. Women need to believe in themselves and have the confidence to reach for any ambition, to forget the sidelines and take a seat at the table. Male-dominated industries need to set proactive structures and standards of behaviour that remove unconscious stereotypes and biases while amplifying women. We need to keep building workplaces where women feel valued and their accomplishments are recognised. Women must have equal opportunity to gain the experience, skills and mentorship needed for career progression and leadership roles. Offering flexible and remote work options is also a way to support women rising to leaders. Brene Brown nailed it when she said “daring leaders fight for the inclusion of all people, opinions, and perspectives because that makes us all better and stronger.” Structurally, the only way forward is on the same footing, together.

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

I love the Shine Theory, which is the simple idea that when you help another woman rise, we all shine – a commitment to collaborating rather than competing. I am very passionate about mutual investment and collaboration. We are all more likely to suceed together when our hearts and minds are open and willing to share our experiences, perspectives and resources. Women accomplish amazing things when we support each other. It’s important to regularly reach out to women in your life, company, organisation or industry and form relationships. As you become adept in your career offer guidance, support and inspiration to pave the way for future female leaders and talent. Be the reason another woman feels connected, supported and uplifted. Be remembered as someone who used her experience and talent to help and inspire another woman to dream more, become more and reach her full potential.

How would you motivate women to “lean in”?

Shonda Rhimes said “you can never think too much of yourself.” Being proud of yourself, your accomplishments, and knowing your worth is non-negotiable. Completely embrace who you are and don’t apologise or shrink your ambition, success, power or value. Being confident can be a big hurdle for women, but the most successful people I know have learnt how to live with self doubt and still push onward with their goals. Be brave with your life and career and don’t listen to critism. I read in a Brene Brown book that there will always be critics sitting in the cheap seats when you are rumbling in the arena. This idea resonated with me. The takeaway being that cheap seat opinions don’t matter. What matters is you show up to rumble in the arena. Don’t hold yourself back from opportunities and surround yourself with people who call you forward and lift you up. Attach yourself to your purpose, seek challenges, and fearlessly forge a path that sees you push through any and all barriers to lean in to your career, shatter your goals and live the life of your dreams.

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

It’s important to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and all opinions are considered and respected. It’s equally important that we all have the freedoms to be ourselves, to be individual – the freedom to be human. When you see a lack of diversity and gender equality in a workplace – be it an office, on a jobsite, or at your local cafe – you need to have the courage to speak up and call it out. Our voices can have an impact. Taking action to engage in meaningful dialogue about the underrepresentation of women in business and leadership is critical to stamping out inequality and building gender equal spaces. Our boardrooms need to look like the world we see around us each day – at least half of the seats should be filled with women. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “women belong in all the places where decisions are being made.”

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

I’m hopeful that young Australian girls and boys can look to our neighbour right now and see inspiring female leadership in Jacinda Ardern and know that any goal is attainable. But hope takes work. We need to ensure women globally have opportunity to grow, learn, accomplish and lead. I’ve often said and will continue to say, “that when we truly invest in girls there are no limits to what they can achieve.” Look at Mari Copeny + Greta Thunberg. Data and experience shows us that when girls and women have equal opportunity, societies and economies thrive. We need to get to a place where our children can enter a workforce where female leadership is mainsteam and not a talking point. Women are powerful. Women are changemakers. Women are inspirational. Women are trailblazers. Women equal leaders.

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