Diversity & Inclusion
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Marianne Walker

ASPL #WeLead Campaign  |  Vol.

31
Marianne Walker
Marianne is a mum of a beautiful 13-year-old boy and she started her career in Musical Theatre in Perth and then went overseas to travel the world, eventually returning into the business of CX for now over 25+ years, and growing into Exec roles through many different industries.
“We need more encouragement and support from ALL of those in leadership. We need more women telling their stories, mentoring, and speaking to women. More men proactively supporting diversity and inclusion internally and out there in the business community.” — Marianne Walker

Tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a mum of a beautiful 13-year-old boy and my wonderful creative husband has been the primary home manager and carer for our son since he was 6 months old which was something very unique (and unfortunately highly judged) 13 years ago! I started my career in Musical Theatre in Perth and then went overseas to travel the world, eventually returning into the business of CX for now over 25+ years, and growing into Exec roles through many different industries. I actually think my acting career was huge in helping me grow into the person and leader I am today – bringing myself to a role, not just being a ‘character’; not allowing myself to be typecast, broadening my capability and reach; using my voice and conviction as a strength, having the courage to speak up; doing roles that excite me and enrich the community, to feed my soul and inspire others!

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

One woman who has been my rock and inspiration, is my mum. She had to overcome some incredible adversities but would always encourage us (my sister and I) to be true to ourselves, go for things in life, never give up and never accept NO, and laugh along the way. She left home and her ethnic family at a very young age to work in the city, taught herself so many things including how to even build a website, was our taxi driver, was our costume designer, was our teacher, was our chef….and she never stops giving, to us and our community…and is so respected and appreciated by so many….

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

I think it’s extremely important to continue to see the growing confidence in women applying for and acquiring the more traditional male dominated roles. There’s increasing awareness and research shows, that including women in leadership roles assists with business growth – that companies with more women leaders outperform – and I believe that all diversity and inclusion in business, fosters creativity and innovation – so why wouldn’t we increase the number of women in leadership roles! A great quote from the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Former Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, and an incredible leader in gender equality, sums it up for me – “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made”

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

More encouragement and support from ALL of those in leadership. We need more women telling their stories, mentoring and speaking to women. We need more men proactively supporting diversity and inclusion internally and out there in the business community. I have seen some fantastic internal women’s networks that have formed in the tech and financial services industries – I think these should be encouraged and become a norm in business. We have our investments division in our business, typically a male dominated industry, where a diversity and inclusion committee has been set up with positive work being done in the recruitment space and other initiatives.

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

I have been a part of a ‘speed mentoring’ program, where you mentor a number of women over a couple of hours. It’s a good way to connect and have the mentee have pointed questions of the mentor and get around to as many women as possible. You can also continue this connection ongoing outside of this event which has happened with a couple of mentees and myself. More of these types of networking events would encourage women to women support. I am also part of many LinkedIn women’s networks where honest and courageous conversations are had. Even if women just watch and listen, as opposed to contribute, it is great to help with knowing you are not alone in what you may be going through or thinking.

How would you motivate women to “lean in”?

Do it myself, role model it – show them every day it’s ok to speak up, to own the good and admit the bad, show visible support for women and be vulnerable. I never miss an opportunity to be frank and fearless but also show my honest vulnerability!

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

I think the way we see diversity and inclusion as the business community is in an embryonic state but at least people are naming it and starting to think about it with their ways of working in their businesses. There’s a long way to go but it starts with the individual and stories and networks and movements like this that keep progressing our thinking. It’s also about making purposeful decisions in recruitment, organisational structures and policies. Keeping companies accountable for an increase in diversity in all roles and levels and continuing to promote and compare to leading organisations will ensure ongoing conversations and change in this area.

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