Over 120 business women from different industries across WA gathered last Friday, May 25 for Corporate Traveller’s fourth annual Women in Business Luncheon. Raising over $2000 for Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea, there was a giant push towards empowerment and support as women networked and enjoyed the entertainment set by Andrea Gibbs and the Barefaced Stories team.
The newly opened five-star Westin Hotel’s level two ballroom had 16 crisp white tables facing the stage. With wait staff and wine bottles and elegant embellishments across the room, the atmosphere of the event felt sophisticated, especially with the hotel itself carrying a 5-star rating. High-ceilings with intricate chandeliers hung above us. As it ticked past midday the room was laced with women between the age of 25 – 50 in small clusters of eight. It was certainly an indulgent affair.
The lunch was broken into three stages. First, we would eat then we would delve into diverse topics that impact women in business and follow the guest speakers with light-hearted humour by the local Barefaced Stories team.
To start with, the food range was incredible. There were rows and rows of gourmet salads catering to every desire followed by roast dishes and pastas and desserts. Given the tickets were only $40 it seemed incredibly generous. Set out as a buffet lunch, we all lined the halls of Westin Hotel to wait our turns.
Nicole Riksman was the first guest speaker. As the General Manager for Flight Centre, she laid down some industry based statistics that challenged pre-conceived notions regarding gender inequality and spoke about some goals that were in place to further disperse the gender gaps in higher management. Currently, Air New Zealand sits at 38% women in higher management with an intention to reach 50% by 2020. You could consider their current work a platform for other businesses to model their own frameworks against.
Monique Van Gelder, the National Marketing Manager for Corporate Traveller introduced their agenda to combat gender diversification within the workforce. Some initiatives include introducing paid maternity leave, flexible work options and recruitment programs that nurture the ongoing growth of women and align their short and long-term goals with the training offered.
When Andrea Gibbs stepped on stage I was pretty excited. Coming from Donnybrook, WA the comedian, actress and radio presenter co-created Barefaced Stories which is all about “real people jumping on stage to share their story.”
The content of the six story tellers drifted from light and breezy laugh-until-you-fall-off-a-chair type stories to tales thick with grief and learning. Sarah-Jane, the first speaker spoke about her journey with post-natal depression and the complicated guilt that can be associated with the early stages of motherhood. Roy, an Aboriginal man spoke about battling restricting ideologies through his childhood and being able to confront those limiting beliefs that were projected onto him in the later stages of his life.
When you attend an event like this, it can be a little frustrating. Given the event was funded by Air New Zealand it can be easy to be disheartened by the one and a half hours of brand awareness before the entertainment. I’ve felt like this at past events but this one was very different. All of the women that stepped on stage spoke about how they are making changes within their workforce rather than what their workforce is doing for them. It felt compelling to have an opportunity to see what results were coming from empowered and strong women in big industries. It wasn’t salesy at all and the presentation felt very natural the way it progressed and seriously, kudos to Corporate Traveller for having a mentorship program called Goddess in the Boardroom.
If you haven’t seen the Barefaced Stories team down at The Bird, I would highly recommend heading down for an evening of story telling. It’s refreshingly honest, bold, and beautifully frank.