This month we caught up with Holly to find out what life at WiseTech is like under our new hybrid model of working, why she thinks women are forces to be reckoned with, and how her passion for human rights and social justice led to the launch of WiseTech’s new Paid Domestic and Family Violence Leave Policy in Australia.
What has your experience working remotely been like?
WiseTech has always been really focused on creating a great culture for its people and there was always an exciting buzz around the office. I loved coming into work and seeing my colleagues every day, so when we first transitioned to remote working it was certainly an adjustment for me.
I think the pandemic has brought a sharpness and a focus to everything that’s important in life. Work-life balance has definitely improved since working from home, and with the hybrid model we get the best of both worlds now. I’ve also found that my productivity has increased because it allows me to manage my time more efficiently and focus when I need to.
My team comes into the office on the same days to ensure we get face-to-face time with each other, and the People Operations team are working really hard to find ways to improve team member health and wellbeing and establish and develop relationships between our people globally.
What’s something you’ve learned since working for a global tech company?
It’s incredibly fast-paced, so you need to juggle and balance multiple things at once. I’ve learned to prioritize my time and figure out what's most important, and the amount that I’ve learned and grown as a result of that fast pace is amazing. In fact, it's probably one of my favourite things about working for WiseTech.
I’ve also learned that it’s okay to make mistakes and to ask for help. You’re never going to get things right 100 percent of the time because nearly every day you encounter a new challenge, or something you haven’t yet experienced. Mistakes in work and life are completely normal and I think there’s great power in embracing that.
At WiseTech we’re encouraged to challenge the status quo, and for me this is incredibly motivating. It means you really have to think through your decisions and take ownership of them. The beauty of working in a global tech company is that you’re surrounded by diverse and hugely talented individuals, who can each teach you something different, so if you do make a mistake there is always someone that can help you turn it around.
What’s been your greatest personal or professional achievement?
To be completely honest, it was the introduction of our Paid Domestic and Family Violence Leave Policy in Australia. I think that was 100 percent the proudest moment of my life. This policy is so important because domestic violence is something that can affect everybody, in all walks of life. And while there are certainly groups that are at greater risk of experiencing it, it really can happen to anyone.
Our policy in Australia allows any team member experiencing domestic violence to 10 days’ paid leave in a 12-month period, which we hope will enable them to take the necessary actions to make safe arrangements for themselves and their dependents. This could include court dates, hospital appointments or securing safe accommodation.
We’ll provide referrals for anyone impacted to appropriate domestic violence support services for expert advice where needed, and we’re committed to ensuring privacy is maintained when asking about or using the policy. Three members of the People Operations Team have been assigned to our Domestic Violence Response Team, who can be reached confidentially via a private mailbox.
The introduction of this policy is hugely important because it raises awareness and gives our people the opportunity to research the topic, gain a better understanding of how to help and support each other, and spread the word so that we can continue to create change.
I personally feel proud to work for a company that prioritizes the health and wellbeing of its people and understands the importance of implementing and upholding policies like this.
What was the driving force behind implementing the Domestic Violence Leave policy in Australia?
Domestic violence is something I’ve always been passionate about as I’ve seen the impact of it firsthand, and after researching the statistics I knew we needed to act. According to the Australian institute of Health and Welfare, 1 in 6 women and 1 in 16 men have experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or previous partner since the age of 15, and 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have experienced emotional abuse by a current or previous partner since the age of 15. Research has also shown that for many people, the pandemic coincided with the onset or escalation of violence and abuse.
I heard a really powerful quote on a TED talk in relation to domestic violence where the speaker said “abuse thrives in silence”. I really believe that talking about domestic violence, and how many people are affected by it in their lifetime, brings the topic out of the shadows and may make it easier for someone to reach out for help. Personally, I think if there's one thing that I really want to come from the introduction of this policy, it's for anyone that is experiencing domestic violence, or has experienced it, to know that they're not alone and that there is support out there for them.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Oh my gosh, there is so much advice I'd give! Firstly, if you don't ask, the answer will always be no. Secondly, when people place limitations on you, that's a reflection of what they believe that they can achieve and it’s not about you, so never listen to them and always believe in yourself.
Another piece of advice that I’ve found has really helped me manage what's important is replacing “I don’t have time” with “it’s not a priority”. So, for example, “seeing my grandparent is not a priority” or “meeting this deadline is not a priority”. When you switch it around, if that doesn’t sit well with you then it’s a good indication that you need to make it a priority, because we often say to ourselves we don't have time, when actually we can find the time.
The theme of International Women's Day this year was Choose to Challenge, what does that mean to you?
Studies show that women will only apply for a job if they feel that they meet 100% of the job criteria, whereas men will apply if they meet 60%, and I think that's so telling. I think it's really easy for women to feel like we're a burden, or that we shouldn't ask for what we deserve. Growing up, society teaches us to shrink ourselves, to strive for an unattainable image of perfection, to believe that we’re bossy or aggressive when we have an opinion or challenge the norm.
I’ve seen that as women we’re almost taught to compete against each other, and we’re made to believe that our value decreases as we age because we become what society deems as ‘less beautiful’. Since a very young age I always feared getting older and it still crosses my mind from time-to-time, but I’ve come to realize how lucky I am that I get the opportunity to live another year when so many do not get the chance, and how amazing it is that I’ve gained another year of knowledge and experience in life. When we work together and challenge these systems and beliefs, we’re a force to be reckoned with. When we choose to challenge the notion of female rivalry and instead choose to support and celebrate other women, that's a win for us all.
For me, choose to challenge means challenging all bias, discrimination, racism, and inequality. It’s challenging our unconscious bias, recognizing the mistakes we as individuals have made, and acknowledging our own privilege. It’s raising uncomfortable topics. It’s empirically investigating issues of inequality and listening to experts on how we can move to correct them. It’s being fierce allies for marginalized groups.
Being each other’s supporters is so important, because together we can all make a difference. When someone from a traditionally marginalized group achieves a leadership role, that paves the way for others to follow. We must unite, stand together, and we need those in a position of privilege to support and choose to challenge too.