A force for change | Suncorp Group’s Innovating Women
Innovating Women is a series sharing the candid stories and viewpoints of women working across the business at Suncorp Group. It offers individual perspectives on the shaping of careers and attitudes, what the private sector can do to build a more gender equal future, and the strategies they employ to foster innovation in the workplace.
At Suncorp Group, we’re determined to advance gender equality in and beyond our workplace. We’re immensely proud of the work we’re doing to ensure women are represented at leadership level. Since 2018, Suncorp has maintained at least 50% representation of women across all leadership positions.
When it comes to the Gender Pay Gap, we’ve made great strides, but know we still have work to do. According to The Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the Financial and Insurance Services industry has the third highest gap in Australia, currently sitting at 19%. Suncorp’s Gender Pay Gap is 18.1%, and we’re aiming to reduce this to 15.5% by 30 June 2025.
Innovating Women explores career paths and turning points, barriers to equality, and how these women are championing innovation at Suncorp.
#Tell us a little about yourself and who or what inspired your attitude towards your work?
“I grew up in Central-Western Queensland before moving to Brisbane to study Law and Business. I would say growing up in a farming family certainly shaped the belief I have in myself. I was surrounded by strong women – and men – who viewed their daughters as being every bit as capable as sons, so that influenced how I saw myself. And growing up in a rural area no doubt contributed as well. Rural life requires honesty, ingenuity and resilience, and I’ve carried all of that with me throughout my career.
I’ve also had supportive leaders here at Suncorp. I started out almost a decade ago in customer-facing roles, before moving into Product, then Innovation, and now my current role as the Bank’s Sustainability Strategy Manager. Those leaders gave me the opportunities I needed to grow and work on projects that align to my personal passions and values.”
#Thinking about what the private sector can do to accelerate an open, safe and equal future for women, what do you feel would be the most transformative commitments we could make?
“One of the key things is to keep increasing the representation of women and gender-diverse leaders. We’ve seen tremendous progress on this in the private sector, but ingrained societal norms are still a problem – with women taking on the mental load at home and, often, primary caregiving responsibilities for children and ageing parents. True equality at home, where we’re all encouraged and supported (culturally and structurally) to take on equal responsibility, levels the playing field for women so they can lean into their careers and take on those leadership roles.
The other big lever is partnerships. As a financial services organisation we have a large role to play in supporting safety and equal opportunity through our partnerships that provide financial literacy and education, crisis support services, and increased awareness for our people on how to better protect vulnerable customers. I see it as our responsibility to understand the lived experiences of others to make sure our products and services are inclusive, accessible and designed in ways that prevent harm.”
Heidi Aspinall, Sustainability Strategy Manager
True equality at home, where we’re all encouraged and supported (culturally and structurally) to take on equal responsibility, levels the playing field for women so they can lean into their careers and take on those leadership roles.
#The theme for International Women’s Day this year is ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a Gender Equal future’. How do you encourage innovation in your team?
For innovation to occur, three conditions need to be present: curiosity, bravery, and time. I encourage my team to be curious – to ask questions, research and explore new ideas or solutions. Secondly, I’m an advocate for being brave enough to rock the boat. If curiosity leads you to think something isn’t right or could be done differently, we need to be brave enough to speak up and change course if necessary.
And finally, we need the time. We can all be curious and courageous, but as a leader it’s on me to ensure I create the headspace for people to do this – this is how we foster a culture of innovation.
#What advice do you have for those who might not be used to thinking about gender equality in their work?
Don’t make assumptions, everyone’s circumstances are different. Making sure people are supported (either in the workplace or through the design and delivery of our products and services) requires us to ask questions and be open to exploring new approaches. This is how we’ll continue making progress towards equality.