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Jenkins AO

Former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Expert on Advanced Diversity, Inclusion & Performance


Kate Jenkins AO is a leader, lawyer, adviser and advocate who has led cultural reform and advanced diversity, inclusion and performance in Australian workplaces, sports, parliament and education.

Kate has recently completed her 7-year term as the Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner. Highlights of Kate’s term leading the landmark Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces Report (2020), with the Federal Government committing to implementing all 55 recommendations of the report in full. She also conducted Time for Respect: the fifth national sexual harassment survey and chaired the Respect@Work Council leading regulators, employers, worker representatives and civil society to implement changes in sexual harassment laws and practices.

Kate is Chair of the Creative Workplaces Council, which is responsible for promoting fair, safe and respectful workplaces in the arts sector.

Kate has worked with a range of sporting codes to improve inclusion, including golf, cricket, Australian Rules football, and netball, and conducted the Independent Review of Gymnastics in Australia in 2021 (Change the Routine). Kate led the development of the world-first Guidelines for the inclusion of transgender and gender-diverse people in sport. Kate was an Ambassador for the FIFA2023 Women’s World Cup.

Kate also led the Commission’s collaborative projects on cultural reform with the Australian Defence Force, Australian Federal Police and Australian Border Force. Other significant projects include: Change the Course: national survey sexual harassment and sexual assault at Australian Universities (2017), and Set the Standard: Independent Review of Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces (2021).

Prior to joining the Commission, Kate spent three years as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commissioner, 20 years as an employment lawyer and lead equal opportunity partner with Herbert Smith Freehills and many years serving on the boards of Berry Street Victoria, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Play by the Rules and Carlton Football Club.

Kate was born and raised on an orchard in Victoria and is a mother and stepmother to 5 young people.

Talking Points

Respect@Work: Safe, respectful, diverse and inclusive workplaces

Renowned for leading the world's first National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian workplaces, which was Australia’s answer to the global #MeToo conversation, Kate’s Respect@Work report set out the roadmap to eliminate sexual harassment in Australian workplaces. Respect@Work was fully accepted, leading to extensive legislative, policy and workplace reform. Kate’s skill is applying her expertise on workplace misconduct to produce practical, cultural reform in various settings, including parliament, sport, universities, defence, mining, retail, large corporates and the law. As the author of these significant reforms, Kate can share her unique insight into how the new laws will impact workplaces, what needs to be done to meet the new positive duty on employers and why she is confident change
will happen.

Audience: Board, CEO, executive teams, lawyers, human resources and safety personnel, people managers.

Key takeaways:
- Contemporary understanding of the nature, prevalence, causes, reporting and employer action on sexual harassment.
- Compliance actions for the new positive duty laws under the Sex Discrimination Act.
- How to create a safe, respectful and inclusive workplace in all industries and sectors.

Gender Equality in Australia - where we are, where we’ve been, where we’re going.

One of Australia’s foremost experts on the gender equality, Kate has advised governments, business and the community sector on the law and on the challenges and opportunities to advance the rights of women and gender diverse people. Kate has focused her work in particular on:
- The challenges facing women in achieve economic security and equality, including equal pay, superannuation, childcare, parental leave, flexible work, gender-segregated industries and discrimination;
- Diversity in leadership and political empowerment; and
- Gender-based violence, including domestic, family and sexual violence, online violence and abuse, and sexual harassment.
As Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate travelled globally representing Australia, sharing our progress on gender equality and learning from others. With deep expertise, Kate is a trusted adviser on what is needed - from government, the private sector, civil society and the community - to achieve gender equality.

Audience: Board, CEO, executive teams, lawyers, human resources and safety personnel, people managers, teams, women’s networking groups.

Key takeaways:
- Australia’s history and current position on gender equality
- Key challenges and barriers to equality, including violence against women, women’s economic security, diversity in leadership and political empowerment.
- Action required or areas of focus to advance gender equality, including practical examples of change across a range of sectors and settings.

Inclusion and Equality in Sport

The vast reach of sport - from grassroots to elite level - from participants to officials, volunteers, supporters and beyond - makes it one of the most impactful settings for change. This is why Kate has worked extensively across the full spectrum of sports to promote safe, fair and inclusive sport and gender equality.

Kate’s work includes an independent review of gymnastics, chairing Play by the Rules, human rights risk assessment for the FIFA 2023 Women’s World Cup, guidelines on improving gender equality in golf, guidelines on inclusion of trans and gender diverse people in sports, as well as work with netball, cricket, tennis, football, AFL.

Kate’s work in sports has identified a number of common risk factors that apply in all sectors, like power imbalances and lack of accountability, and opportunities for change to achieve high performance. She has used those lessons to engage leaders in other unique environments, like parliament, universities, defence, mining, retail, large corporates, and the law.

Audience: Sports administrators, officials, all sporting codes. Leaders and organisations seeking expertise on cultural reform

Key Takeaways:
- An understanding of sport and human rights
- The barriers and opportunities to equality and safety in sport
- Lessons for cultural reform from sport applicable in other sectors.
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