Press for progress

Short Stories that Press for Progress Issue 1

Each week talking to leaders, I am always interested in knowing why they started their business. Your why motivates you, builds rapport and understanding with others and gives context. To celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 we asked some Femeconomy members why they started their business. As you will see from every answer given, they take a holistic view of their lives. In each and every example our community aren’t just doing business for business sake. They are in business because they firmly believe in supporting other women to succeed. Each business is helping other women to press for progress whether that be financially, legally, through their career, building their confidence, or helping them live a life enriched by travel experiences that also save the planet. Enjoy our short stories that help you press for progress.

Denise O’Reilly, Principal Lawyer, O’Reilly Workplace Law

Denise O'Reilly, O'Reilly Workplace Law

I spent the first 8 years of my career in a large (now global) law firm where I developed my expertise in workplace law acting for predominantly ASX listed companies. When I resigned, I moved to the Gold Coast for a sea change. It was at this time I saw that there were very few workplace lawyers providing the advice and the kinds of solutions that are available to the high end of town, to small to medium sized employers. Many of these solutions can be really significant for small to medium sized businesses on a growth path. Particularly, given the complexity of our current workplace relations system, and the heavy compliance burden it creates for business.

My other motivation was that I was planning to have a family. I wanted to be in charge of my own work life. Giving myself flexibilities that can sometimes be difficult to obtain as an employee in the legal profession. Now, I have an all female team of 8 (including 4 talented lawyers plus myself), most of whom have varying part time and flexible work arrangements.

The workplace law landscape has changed significantly in recent years.

Employers are more exposed than ever to claims from employees. Fines for serious breaches of awards (such as for non payment of penalties and allowances) have increased to maximums of $630,000 per breach for companies, and $126,000 for individuals (such as directors and employed managers). This makes workplace law compliance an asset protection issue for business owners. So, its important now more than ever, that employers make sure they have their house in order on the workplace compliance front. We routinely work with growing businesses to ensure that they minimise the risk of legal claims. This can often be done via some procedural steps or putting simple documents in place. With the rise of female led businesses in Australia, we want to make sure they are minimising risk.

Kerry Ashbrook, Director, Life You Choose

Kerry Ashbrook, Director, Life You ChooseI started Life You Choose because for as long as I can remember I have had a burning passion to help women. Over the years I have watched women hold themselves back through lack of confidence, money, education or support. Whether that was not going for the promotion they were more than qualified for. Staying in an unhappy relationship or job because they could see no financial way out. Or, not building a financial future because they didn’t think they could. I have also seen friends and family work their entire lives and still end up with nothing. Living out their years, very uncomfortably on a pension. I want women to choose their greatest lives and have the money to do so, today and tomorrow.

Life You Choose runs a series of events and workshops. I am also available for speaking engagements and panels. These events are created around the financial independence model. It’s designed to give you practical next steps to get on with living the life you would truly choose and having the money to do so. Led by me, at the two day, ten module workshop you will also have access to a panel of experts as you develop your 10 year plan. I am leading the financial movement in a series of free events, designed to get all women engaged in taking control of their financial destiny.

Kylie Duffy and Andrew Fenlon, Directors, Women into Leadership

Kylie Duffy and Andrew Fenlon, Women into LeadershipEquality is 216 years away. This is unacceptable to us. When we were looking at what factors were affecting women achieve senior leadership roles in business, we came up with three contributing factors. Society and the expectations and pressures put on women. Women themselves and their perceived limits, insecurities and expectations. Organisations and businesses created by men for men that have been operating the same way for decades.

We have a Fast Track Leadership program to support women developing their leadership skills. However, the greatest area of opportunity for change is organisations. This is where we created Women into Leadership. We work with organisations to implement strategies to drive a systemic change. To allow women to achieve and maintain senior leadership roles. Women achieve about 50% more degrees than men. Women fare better on leadership tests but we see abysmal percentages of women in senior leadership roles. We work with the women in the organisation to co-design a solutions based program. As we say to organisations, ‘our process, your problems’. Our programs are KPI’d and measurable and achieve real results within the 12 month program. We help women achieve leadership roles, by focussing on the organisations that need to change.

Yasmine Shah, CEO, Ema Financial Group

Yasmine Shah, Director, Ema FinanceI started my business because I wanted to work more closely with people when they were making the biggest decision of their lives. And, to help make money a fun subject. It’s important to work with people to build their money mindset and help them make smart financial choices.

I am proud to say Ema serves the female economy. We help women engage with their money and the financial services industry by feeling empowered and in control. At Ema we cater to the needs of women when it comes to money by considering their challenges and obstacles. Women have unique requirements for dynamic solutions for their personal and business financial worlds. At Ema, we support their growth and prosperity through every challenge and life stage. We focus on providing hands on education, and we are strategic and holistic in our approach. Helping connect women to their power by helping them place their finger firmly on the pulse of their finances, ensuring they form financial game plans. We help them build, implement and control their financial blue print.

Dayana Brooke, Founder, The Sustainable Traveller

Dayana Brooke, The Sustainable TravellerMy deep passion for the protecting the environment and conservation, veganism and being a parent, lead me to start my business The Sustainable Traveller. We are a Travel Group committed to booking certified sustainable hotels and tour operators, cruises, suppliers and airlines. Not only do we offer carbon offset of travel, we plant trees with each booking and provide travel tips to make your trip more sustainable. We book travel for singles, couples, families and corporates and make it easy for you to know and book hotels that are doing their bit for the environment by having them certified and approved by The Sustainable Traveller.

Clients can also join small group tours that are completely sustainable and carbon neutral. If we all make just small changes to way we travel, we can make big changes to how we travel and its affect on the environment. Then we can continue to enjoy travelling while we preserve and conserve our environment, for now and the future of our children as well.

We can help women become more empowered travellers and be a part of a movement for greater environmental protection and change. Enable women to experience different types of travel, immerse themselves in new cultures and countries and offer them an option to create women only hosted tour groups to destinations they otherwise may not travel to. Women are powerful in creating behavioural change in life and society. We can provide them with travel tools to feel empowered and confident to take on the world.

Sonya Stattman, Business Coaching and Success Strategist for Women

Sonya Stattman, success strategist for womenAlmost two decades ago I had two big realisations. I learned very quickly that I was not made for the corporate world and definitely an entrepreneur at heart. Secondly, I became very aware of the sexism and inequality for women in the workplace. I wanted to be an advocate for women’s power in the business arena and in the world. That is a mission I have carried with me for almost two decades now. All of my work is around helping women empower themselves through business.

I help women achieve the essential skills they need to succeed in business, not just marketing and sales, but also the more important skills. There are a lot of skills that many business leaders aren’t teaching. Skills like women learning to value themselves, achieving more balance, setting boundaries, building and maintaining momentum and getting the most return on effort. I specialise in streamlining services businesses run by women. Over the last two decades I have learned the keys to helping women have higher incomes, more impact in the world and to experience real freedom.

Daile Drevins, Director, Salt Design

Daile Drevins, Salt DesignAfter 15 years employed as a graphic designer, I realised it was no longer enough to simply ‘design’ pretty pictures all day. I wanted to provide the full service. To interact with clients. To learn about their situation and to work with them to find creative solutions. In knew I could build and lead a team. And deep down, I wanted to make people happy! The satisfaction I feel today when a client LOVES our concepts or thanks us for getting their job delivered on time – gives me as big a buzz today as it did when I first started Salt.

Salt Design currently employs three female designers. During our 14 years trading in Brisbane the majority of employees have been female. In my experience, we have been very fortunate within the Graphic Design industry to enjoy gender-equality in the workplace. Creative ability remains core to an individual’s position and career advancement. We have a responsibility to ensure the portrayal of women in the projects we design avoids negative stereotypes and gender bias. We have the opportunity to communicate positive messages which can empower, provide strength and encourage capability.


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Posted by Alanna Bastin-Byrne - Femeconomy Director

CEO of the house, community builder and a globetrotting nomad. Background in Marketing and Communications leadership in the UK and Australia.