Aurion’s mission is to help build a world with employment opportunities for all, with emphasis on gender equality and engaging socially disadvantaged groups. Every year we celebrate International Women’s Day (March 8) and the call for women’s equality at home, in the workplace, and in the community.

This year, Kathryn Wilson, our Executive General Manager, hosted an International Women’s Day town hall for the RGF Staffing APEJ family (our parent company) on Thursday 10 March.

The event was centred on the 2022 IWD campaign theme of ‘Break the Bias’ – encouraging us all to imagine a gender equal world; a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; a world that is diverse, equitable and inclusive; a world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Meredith Menzies, the GM of Employee Experience for RGF Staffing, delivered an Acknowledgement of Country from Ngunnawal country in the ACT.

Team members from across our Group shared their personal experiences of women at work and changing role expectations in the workplace and the importance of Breaking the Bias.

Kathryn observed how far we’ve come in the equality for women but recognised how far we still have to go. She told us how different the choices were for women when she was leaving school.

“There was an expectation that women would leave work after they were married to be full time carers for their families,” she said, “and as such, careers in a ‘caring’ or ‘support’ role, like nurse, teacher, secretary or bank teller were the options presented by well-meaning career counsellors.”

The issue was that women weren’t encouraged to think big, and there were different expectations of what women could and should be doing until we started to question why and took control of our choices and entered into careers that we wanted and that previously had been dominated by men.

The solution? “Whilst we focus on Break the Bias, I think it is also important as women to recognise our own bias and the limitations that imposes on our choices,” Kathryn said. “Look out for those ‘sliding door’ moments where we can make a choice. We need to be cheerleaders for each other and for equality.”

Kathryn told us how she came to be Aurion’s EGM, “An opportunity presented, and I was asked by our female CEO if I was interested in the EGM role. My own internal bias took me to all the reasons I couldn’t fulfill the role rather than how I could meet the expectations and the value I could bring – I declined the opportunity.”

“I was lucky,” Kathryn explained, “12 months later that same opportunity presented again and this time I went for it. What changed? Nothing really, other than a fresh mindset.”

“My imposter syndrome was still evident,” Kathryn continued, “but this time I was fortunate to be surrounded by strong women who believed in me and managed to speak louder than my own inner voice of ‘why I shouldn’t’.”

“In Breaking the Bias it’s important that we place our own bias in that bucket too, enabling you to step up and seize the opportunities you want when they knock on your door. Don’t hold the door open for someone else – if you want it, seize the day and run for it.”

In closing, Kathryn emphasised that contribution and collaboration are core IWD values, which we can support by turning competition into collaboration, and taking the important step forward to be cheerleaders and supporters for all the women with who we work and interact.

Peter Acheson, RGF Staffing Chief Executive Officer, emphasised the importance of equality for RGF Staffing, and illustrated the importance of HR policies in promoting gender equality with a reveal of the ‘Lean-in Circle’ initiative. One ‘circle’ will be devoted to a space where women can come together to build networks and tackle challenges.

The next of our speakers for IWD was RGF Staffing Chief Financial Officer Peter Brown who delivered the financial update and forecast for the group, before describing what IWD means to him.

Peter is confident that there’s gender pay equity at RGF Staffing at the team and group level. He mentioned that four out of his five direct reports are female, and that the team is stronger for it.

As a father of three young daughters, gender equality is front of mind for Peter. At home he promotes equal housework to break stereotypes. For example, Peter and his son do most of the shopping and cooking, and all the ironing.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) released May 2021 survey data on men and women’s contribution to unpaid (domestic) work. It found a disparity between the percentage of men and women who spent five or more hours in the past week on a range of tasks:

Task Women Men
Indoor housework 62% 35%
Caring or supervision of children 38% 28%
Care of adults 16% 7%
Cooking and baking 64% 37%
Outdoor chores and repairs 18% 20%


Margo Shand, General Manager – NSW/ACT at Chandler Macleod Group, shared the experience of three generations of women in her family to illustrate how society has changed.

Margo’s mum had to leave school at 14 to help her mum care for her 5 brothers. She was smart, and she had other ideas for her daughter and was determined that Margo would go to university. Margo graduated and became a teacher in 1980, which was an acceptable role for women at the time, and one with equal pay and treatment for women.

In the 1960s four out of five women work from home, Margo explained. The big change for women in the 1960s was the birth control pill. Women could delay starting families and stay in the workforce for longer, and female participation in the workforce spiked dramatically, although the full impact would be felt in the coming decades.

The jobs women were doing were not always the same as the guys, they were in supporting, caring roles, like teaching, nursing, administration or typing. Margo mentioned that in the 1960 three percent of lawyers were women and nine percent of doctors. Now women represent 47 percent of lawyers and even higher in the medical profession.

It was when Margo went into the corporate world that she first saw gender inequality in the workplace for the first time. “Since joining the Chandler MacLeod in 2006, one thing that’s typified my career is a lack of discrimination,” Margo said.

“Both my daughters are successful in business and are on equal footing with husbands and partners who share in domestic work,” she commented.

Margo has a message: we need to allow males to take on roles they may not have felt comfortable with in the past, like parental leave, because Breaking the Bias goes both ways.

Sam Willett, Chandler MacLeod’s General Manager of Employee and Industrial Relations, is a new father, experiencing the day-to-day reality of parenting, and how it challenges and rewards you in ways you can’t prepare for.

He and his wife discussed how parenthood would work in their jobs and devised a plan to share the first 12 months of Ari’s life: 8 months full time for mum, then 4 months full time for Sam.

Sam explained that there are many examples of this kind of customised parental leave at RGF Staffing. He felt extremely fortunate for the full support of his team, who’s attitude is that “we can make this work”.

See how else we express our company values at Aurion: read about Aurion’s Gift of Community for Christmas and how we’re supporting Australia’s coronavirus immunisation program in Manage Staff Vaccinations With Aurion.