Pushing boundaries | 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.
#Leilani Burich, Tribe Lead Strategy & Transformation
As a Pasifika woman in senior leadership at Suncorp, Leilani Burich is determined to inspire and empower others to embrace their worth and value in the workplace.
#Tell us a little about yourself, and who inspired your attitude towards work and/or your career path?
“I was born and raised in West Auckland, New Zealand in the era of Footrot Flats and jelly shoes. At the age of nine, my family relocated to Samoa to help with the infrastructure re-build following the devastation of Cyclone Val.
After nine more years of schooling in Samoa, it was time to leave the nest and pursue my tertiary education back in New Zealand. I was a keen Polynesian student pursuing my vision of becoming a technology geek!
After securing my first job at Telecom (Spark), I was on my way to achieving that vision when I was “rudely” interrupted by a leader suggesting I’d make a great people leader – and that I should throw my hat in the ring for an upcoming role. I listened. And haven’t looked back since.
Throughout my 17 years in technology and insurance, I’ve been fortunate to have had some incredible women around me. They have led, inspired and challenged me to believe in myself, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, and to push my own boundaries with what I think I'm capable of. I credit these women with curating a mindset in me that says, ‘you don’t know what you’re truly capable of, until you give it a go’.”
#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?
“Continuing to drive hard on closing the gender pay gap must remain a key focus for the private sector – who by now should understand its power and position of influence as role models for change.
Building self-confidence is also vital. I know I speak for myself and other women I've met along my career journey when I say this; it can be incredibly difficult to believe in yourself if there is little or no help available. That’s why I believe establishing focused mentoring programs in the workplace, where women can discuss their aspirations and challenges with a trusted mentor, can make a big difference. Helping women advocate for themselves, negotiate pay rises, and accelerate their readiness for leadership roles are just a few of the benefits a focussed mentoring program can provide.”
Leilani Burich, Tribe Lead Strategy & Transformation
Continuing to drive hard on closing the gender pay gap must remain a key focus for the private sector – who by now should understand its power and position of influence as role models for change.
#The theme for International Women’s Day in 2023 was ‘Cracking the Code: Innovation for a Gender Equal future’. How do you encourage innovation in your team?
“I like to create an environment much like the one I personally thrive in, which has a mix of essential ingredients.
Above all it must be a psychologically safe environment – safe for people to try new things and to be their authentic selves. But there must also be trust, so the team feels empowered to make decisions; freedom to explore and let go of fear of failure; diversity of thought and skills; collaboration and curiosity over competition and close-mindedness. And fun! You must have fun in the mix for innovating thinking to flow.”
#What advice do you have for those who might not be used to thinking about gender equality in their work?
“Creating a gender equal future in the workplace is not an issue that can be solved overnight. It’s a journey, and it requires commitment from you and each one of us.
I encourage everyone to reflect on gender equality and what that looks like in your workplace and in your team. Is there room for improvement? Are products and services inclusive? Is there gender bias in the workplace? Are you disrupting the status quo? Are you taking bold action to create gender equality? Are you doing your part to achieve gender equality?”