Equitable Workplace Awards — Exa Product Development recognised as ‘Representative Leadership’ category winner

Equitable Workplace Awards — Exa Product Development recognised as ‘Representative Leadership’ category winner

WORK180’s International Women’s Day Summit 2023 wrap-up

It was a day of thought-provoking discussion and open conversations backdropped by the stunning Melbourne city-skyline as we launched our first International Women’s Day Summit earlier this week.

While every day is International Women’s Day for us here at WORK180, the summit was an amazing opportunity for us to gather a panel of leaders, changemakers, and advocates who were all eager to reveal their tried and tested strategies for driving equity in the workplace to an eager and engaged audience of over 230+ guests (and a baby!).

But wait a minute…

If WORK180 was founded eight years ago, why are we finally only now doing our own, International Women’s Day (IWD) event?

Great question.

It’s one our Co-founder and CEO, Gemma Lloyd answered in her opening address.

“Employers have always come to us, asking how they can know better and do better around their diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The last two years, we’ve doubled down on this and created the DEI Assessment, which measures employers on ten standards that drive equity in the workplace, from inclusive hiring practices to strategic commitments to employee support and safety services.

“We’ve got an incredibly robust set of data, and data-driven knowledge around what actions truly make an impact when it comes to equity.

“With the data and insights we have, we’ve become incredibly proud of the work our Endorsed Employers are doing to drive equity, and their focus on continuous improvement. We now feel, like we can have an IWD event, which celebrates true progress, and shares challenges, actions, and insights everyone can learn from.”

So that’s what we did.

Along with the amazing insights and experiences of our speakers and panellists, the day also celebrated our inaugural Equitable Workplace Awards.

The feedback so far…

To help us minimize the wastage from the event we asked attendees to return their badges to maximize their use for future events. The returned badges also allowed for some immediate feedback for the event.

As you can see, many of our attendees LOVE(d) the event, in fact 60% returned their badge to the ‘love’ box, while 25% ‘celebrated’ the event, and 15% ‘liked’ the event.

But we’ve also had some other great feedback:

“JJ was amazing and a brave choice for speaker at an IWD event. She really challenged your thinking and preconceptions.”

“Incredible panel, great discussion!”

“How can I take key insights away to share with our senior leadership team in a way that might come in any way close to the engaging and inspiring style I received it…. to describe today to them from my notes just wouldn’t do it justice!”

“The diversity in the speakers and their experiences was amazing.”

A big thank-you to our keynote speaker

JJ Ferrari

Change Agent, Motivational Speaker, Transition and Performance Coach

JJ Ferrari had the kind of personal and professional life we all dream of attaining. But the dream quickly ended, and the nightmare began, in February 2015 when she was outed on LinkedIn and the world found out about her gender transition.

The aftermath was devastating, her world simply shattered. She went from successful in every way to broken and depressed. She was almost instantly stripped of years of hard-earned successes and achievements.

Left with nothing and lost as to who she was, reality shocked her back to life. She made a commitment to herself to find a way to see her situation as a fresh start, a blank canvas. She went to work rebuilding her body, mind, and spirit.

Through her address, she wielded her experiences to deftly challenge the audience to experiment with different ways of thinking. Her passion for the need for change and inclusion in not just the workplace, but the world in general, came across with a crisp authenticity all in the room were moved by.

A round of applause for our panellists

Our guest speakers each work at one of our Endorsed Employers that have made exceptional strides in supporting and elevating women.


Abby Jones

HR Director, Organizational Capability at Thales

An organizational psychologist, a mother of two and a terrible cook, Abby has spent the last ten plus years helping organizations perform better by leveraging their greatest asset – their people. Her role provides full scope of the Leadership, Learning, Capability, Talent, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Engagement portfolios.

Sarah Goss

Head of Innovation at Ericsson Australia and New Zealand

Sarah is a member of Ericsson’s local executive team, responsible for company-wide strategy execution and innovation. Sarah is Chair of Ericsson’s Diversity & Inclusion Council, and host of Ericsson’s award-winning podcast, Tech Cetera.

Sarah Bardwell

General Manager at Exa Product Development

Believing that a culture of transparency and team member empowerment is key to building high-performing teams, Sarah is an advocate for organizational wholeness and self-management. Sarah is especially passionate about the positive impact that diversity of thought has on the people who work with, and within the Exa organization.

Gemma Lloyd

Moderator | CEO and Co-founder at WORK180

After spending the first decade of her tech career dealing with everyday sexism and discrimination, Gemma co-founded WORK180 in 2015 to create an equal working world for women. Today, WORK180 is trusted by millions of women across the United States, United Kingdom and Australia.

There was some fabulous discussion around topics like positive conflict, intersectionality, the importance of transparency, and the role technology plays when it comes to advancing women in the workplace.

Some of our favorite quotes from the session:

“We won’t have equality in the workplace until we have equality in the home.”
– Sarah Goss | Head of Innovation at Ericsson Australia and New Zealand


“Participation of the entire organization is critical for [reducing the negative sentiment attached to insisting on diversity in the hiring process]. Everyone needs to be part of the conversation, and everyone needs to be accountable for holding up the values of their organization. HR and leadership teams need to feel the fire to deal with negative sentiments with zero tolerance.”
– Sarah Bardwell | General Manager at Exa Product Development


“Balance is about maintaining status-quo, but life should be about moving forward. So, the idea that we need ‘work-life balance’ to stay motivated can be too simplistic. Rather, we need to manage our energy. We need to balance our energy levels by identifying what drives and drains your personal energy levels. Then, incorporate them at work and at home.”
– Abby Jones | HR Director, Organizational Capability at Thales

And the Equitable Workplace Award winners are…

For our flagship Equitable Workplace Awards we scored each of our Endorsed Employers across our ten workplace standards to find the companies that are leading the way and are taking these standards to the next level.

Each category below represents one of the standards, and we have awarded two winners for most categories: a small-medium enterprise award, and a large enterprise award.

Inclusive hiring processes 

We champion the importance of fair and transparent hiring processes that empower women of all backgrounds and experiences to apply and know they will be genuinely considered.


Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Inclusive and anti-discriminatory culture 

This involves removing any social, physical, or mental barriers that may prevent individuals from feeling safe, comfortable, confident, or able to fully contribute in the workplace.

Fluent Commerce

Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Flexible working arrangements

From remote work to adjusted hours, flexibility is one of the most powerful ways in which companies can help every employee overcome workplace barriers and thrive.


Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Shared caring responsibilities

Creating a culture that promotes and supports equal and shared responsibility for parents and carers — regardless of gender — is critical to enabling women to thrive in the workplace.


Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Employee support and safety services

From domestic and family violence to ageism and ableism, women and underrepresented groups often face a multitude of barriers to the workplace. We encourage employers to recognize the role they must play in the systemic removal of such barriers while offering robust (often external) support for those impacted.

Liberty Financial

Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Employee voice and ERG’s

Employee voice is a key part of building an equitable and inclusive organization. This means creating a culture that empowers employees, particularly those from underrepresented groups, to share their experiences, insights, and ideas.

Fluent Commerce

Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Career development

To address the current underrepresentation of women in leadership and in certain industries, companies can’t afford to just focus on hiring alone. It is equally important to nurture and retain the women within their organizations through career development support that builds confidence, skills, networks, and direction.


Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Representative leadership

While achieving diversity will have a positive impact at any level, an increased focus on achieving diversity in leadership will have the greatest impact, in both the short and long term.

Exa Product Development

Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Pay equity

While equal pay for equal value of work is a legal requirement, unequal access to opportunities continues to result in pay gaps between genders, races, and ethnicities.

Due to the intersection of systemic discrimination, these pay gaps are combined and compounded for women from underrepresented groups.


Small-medium enterprise


Large enterprise

Strategic commitments

Whether it’s at the board, shareholder, or C-suite level, formalizing a company’s ambition to build and maintain a diverse, equitable, and inclusive organization through strategic commitments can be one of the most important drivers of positive change.

Giant Leap

Small-medium enterprise

Want to find out more about our top 101 workplaces for women in 2023?

See the full list here

Thanks to our sponsors they weren’t the only winners on the day

In truth, we hope everyone who came on the day felt like a winner and was able to leave with at least one actionable tip to implement and catalyse change toward a more gender-equal future.

But there were a few attendees who left with a little bit more.

One lucky individual won the gift of care with a Botanica Aromatherapy Hamper filled with delectable bites, refreshing teas, a scented candle and aroma diffuser. Another walked away with a scholarship place in the Acts of Confidence program — a 10-week program designed for women who are ready for a change, and to get more out of their career and lives.

All together we had 35 amazing prizes and valuable gifts to give away thanks to our amazing sponsors below:

This article originally appeared on WORK180.com

Want to learn more? Reach out to Exa Product Development — contact or connect with us!

Equitable Workplace Awards — Exa Product Development recognised as ‘Representative Leadership’ category winner
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