Championing gender equality on International Women’s Day

Women are well represented across the Department of Human Services, as more than 70 per cent of department staff and 46 per cent of the substantive Senior Executive Service are women.

This year’s theme for International Women’s Day, Press for Progress, is a call-to-action to progress gender equality in the workplace and society at large. The department’s Gender Equality Champion, Annette Musolino, is one of our leaders actively pressing for progress at the department.

As Chief Counsel, Annette advises the Minister, Secretary and Executive on strategic and legal matters, and as the Gender Equality Champion she promotes an equitable and inclusive workplace for all staff.

“Gender equality isn’t about being blind to gender. It’s about challenging stereotypes to ensure we have the best people for the job,” Annette said.

“It’s about creating a workplace that supports all staff to do their best work.”

Last year, Annette was recognised by her peers as Government Lawyer of the Year at the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel Australia In-House Lawyer Awards.

Ben Dube, of Sparke Helmore Lawyers, with Annette Musolino at the 2017 Association of Corporate Counsel Australia In-House Lawyer Awards.

“It was a great honour and a reflection of the amazing team I work with, from those in my leadership group to the two extraordinary women who run my office,” she said.

“The work we do makes a big difference to the department’s technological transformation agenda as well as key legal and operational matters that impact the general public. It’s an immense privilege coming to work every day.”

As the youngest of four daughters, Annette grew up in a hard-working family who greatly valued education.

“My working life started at 15 when I was wearing a bright green McDonald’s uniform and I was afraid I’d fall into the deep fryer,” Annette said.

“Since then, I’ve followed my passion and worked for a range of law firms and in-house legal teams in Sydney and Canberra. I also have a wonderful family network who’ve supported me to raise my kids while I’ve pursued my career goals.”

For women working their way towards senior positions, Annette is full of encouragement.

“Women in senior positions can feel pressure to conform to more traditional concepts of leadership rather than applying their own style,” she said.

“My advice is to find your own voice and be comfortable with your story and your leadership style.

“Put your hand up for the hardest projects, tackle difficult jobs and situations with courage and resilience, and be open to feedback, good and bad. When things don’t go to plan, accept that setbacks are an opportunity for growth. And growth is the key to progress.”

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