IWD2018: how safe spaces create inclusion for all women

To celebrate International Women’s Day, all week bluenotes will be guest edited by respected journalist and author Catherine Fox. We’ll be publishing content on women, their experience in the workplace and the future of equality. We hope you enjoy it.

Creating women-only spaces is important but we need to be mindful of celebrating all women on International Women’s Day.

ANZ employees Rochelle Johnson and Michelle Sheppard recently shared their experiences around issues faced by trans women to help others understand how workplace support can make a huge difference to someone’s life.

“I think I’m welcome here, I’m maybe welcome here, I’m not sure that I’m welcomed here” – Rochelle Johnson

“Women’s Day events are all about ‘let’s break the glass ceiling, ‘let’s get gender balance’,” Johnson says. “But they’re only talking about one kind of balance – they’re not really talking about a more-diverse concept of what that actually means.”



As a trans-woman, walking into those spaces leaves her feeling fraught, Johnson says.

“It’s like ‘I think I’m welcome here, I’m maybe welcome here, I’m not sure that I’m welcomed here’ and most of us trans-women go through that experience of always being hyper vigilant,” she says.

The power of allies

The women agree if they learned anything good from the marriage equality survey – which they describe as a “horror” – it was the power of allies.

“We want you to stand beside us and help us advocate and help us achieve equality,” Sheppard says.

“So many people within our community are quick to throw terms around like ‘pink washing’ and so on but they don’t actually see what’s going on behind the scenes.”

Sheppard recalls writing down everything she had to deal with as a trans woman to help create policies for the bank.

“The company I was with before, when I first came out, actually looked at me like they wouldn’t touch me and wouldn’t shake my hand or anything,” she says.

Johnson says most people find their transparency inspiring.

“Suddenly you’re living authentically,” she says. “You’re living in a way that you hadn’t in the past and that kind of honesty is infectious.”

You can hear more of the conversation by watching the video above.

Jemma Wight is production editor at bluenotes

Originally posted : https://bluenotes.anz.com/posts/2018/03/IWD2018-how-safe-spaces-create-inclusion-for-all-women



Published by mishsheppard

Michelle's powerful combination of self and community shines through the platform of radio which has helped raised the public profile and national dialogue of transgender, gender diverse and intersex issues on a national scale. Surprisingly nothing is off limits with Michelle who connects with her audience brilliantly; obviously through her humor and unapologetic blunt honesty. She is often labelled as an inspiring advocate and role model for youth and adults alike and hers is a powerful story to tell. We know that when a woman has the support of her community, especially her sisters, she is unstoppable. Michelle’s wider support from the women around her, LGBTI+ or ally alike, has helped develop her own unstoppable resilience and body positive confidence that she inspires others with. Now a sought-after public speaker Michelle is admired for her bold public representation of the Transgender community as works to break through the barriers of unconscious bias, cultural and structural issues to ensure equality of opportunity for all Australian work spaces. Winner of the ANZ Excellence in Business Award, ‘LGBTI Jobs’ a relatively new project, they pair LGBTI graduates and jobseekers to companies that embrace inclusion initiatives. “We’ve started a business that helps anybody who’s in the LGBTI Community. We go to companies and see what they are you doing. This isn’t just for me, this is for the entire community and we are going to make a massive change.” Michelle was recently celebrated alongside some truly amazing individuals from our community as part of the ‘The LOTL Power List 2016’ as someone who does everything in their power to make life that little bit better for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities: sometimes with blood, sweat and tears; and sometimes just by being themselves. Michelle is also a finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017. Awards Globe Awards 2016 - ANZ Excellence in Business Award The LOTL Power List 2016 (28/40) Finalist for ‘MTV – LGBTI Broadcaster and Presenter’ in the Australian LGBTI Awards 2017

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: