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Federal Member of Parliament (2016 2019), Lawyer, former General Counsel, Senior Executive Director

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Successful leaders trust their instincts, always listen, and use their voice.

Julia Banks is a former Federal Member of the Australian Parliament and a corporate lawyer with impeccable credentials. Julia held senior positions as General Counsel, Executive Director and Company Secretary and was Head of Risk and Compliance in some of the world’s most successful blue chip companies including Kraft, Glaxo Smith Kline and George Weston Foods working across Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific.

During her Parliamentary term, Julia was the Chair of the Social Policy and Legal Affairs Committee, an active member of the House Economics Committee which conducted the Banking enquiry into the four major banks, and was a strong advocate for equality, climate change action and humanitarian causes.

Julia’s advocacy and expertise in governance and ethics, risk, crisis and issues management and workplace culture is underpinned by her extensive business career.

Talking Points

Women in Leadership

In business the case has been made in several successful businesses that gender equality with women in senior leadership positions will deliver success. I’ve seen targets change organizations and businesses for the better - but we still have a long way to go.

Women make up over 52% of our population in Australia, but still only represent 1 in 3 MPs in our Federal Parliament and Australia is ranked 48th globally in the world. Having an equal number of women and men in Federal Parliament is not a panacea to Australian politics but it will change the culture, be more representative of our society and deliver successful outcomes.

It’s been proven time and time again that diversity delivers success yet at the highest levels in business, in our communities and in Federal politics, we still don’t have gender parity.
Key Takeaways
- There is a case for targets in business and quotas in politics.
It’s foolish to not put in place specific mechanisms to have equal representation of women and men in leadership in politics and business. By incentivizing business leaders - the business case for targets has proven successful. In politics, quotas at pre election phases should be implemented to ensure gender parity.
- Be aware of unconscious bias.
One of the main barriers to employing or recruiting women in any organisation is unconscious bias and discrimination.. Unconscious bias training and incentive based aspirational targets, will help deliver success.
- Diversity delivers success.
Time and time again, it has been proven that diversity delivers success.

Trust, Governance and Ethics

Good governance, ethics, trust and reputation aren’t just popular “corporate speak.”

For these things to be embedded in an organisation they have to be lived, breathed and in the DNA of every individual in the business.

Why? Because it’s only when then this happens that the personal success of individuals and the organisation can be assured.

Key Takeaways
-Trust your instincts.
Trusting your instincts is so important. They will rarely let you down.
- Speaking up.
Staying silent, or being induced into silence can be a killer of ethical behaviour. And staying silent can make you feel that you haven’t done all you’re capable of doing to make things better.
- Personal power and responsibility.
Every individual can make a difference and harness the reputation of any organisation or brand by playing their own individual part in it. You just have to be yourself and live, breathe and speak your truth.

Work Love and Life, All Work Together

The well-worn descriptor of ‘work life balance’ has had its day. Why? Because for most of us ‘work’ is not separate to ‘life’. They are integrated into each other.

Some of us like work, and many of us love it.

Flexible work practices, dividing the load equally at home and fostering open thinking amongst leaders will make for a better world.

Key Takeaways:
- Women who work don’t love their children any less.
When I returned to work after the birth of my first child, I was catching up with a male colleague who had also just experienced the birth of his first child. He said to me, “My wife’s not like you. She loves the children and can’t bear the thought of leaving them to go back to work.” I simply replied, “What are you doing back at work then? Don’t you love your children?”

- It’s not about work versus family.
The dignity of work is life affirming and it has been for centuries. The most potent barrier to the joy of work for women is the belief that somehow work must always be pitched against those things and people we love. The default position becomes arguing the benefits of traditional/stereotypical roles for men and women.

- Balance is a myth.
To engage in the dignity of work, and to love family, friends and other things in life outside of your work, you need to create a mix. They don’t have to operate in parallel. Sometimes it’s a chaotic mix and sometimes it’s harmonious but it’s not about balance.
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