March 8, 2021

Choose to Challenge

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International Women’s Day this year is all about #ChooseToChallenge. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

Gemma Versace has been with Programmed for 11 years. She’s now the General Manager of Customer Development, focusing on customer engagement and growth. She answered some questions on Choosing the Challenge and creating an impact.

What are three things your company Choose to Challenge in order to benefit women?

“Programmed has implemented a progressive and family friendly parental leave policy and work flexibility practices where we always seek to accommodate individual circumstances to ensure employees can best manage their work-life balance. Another way Programmed support gender equality is through the offering of gender-neutral parental leave policies.”

How would you like to see more companies Choose to Challenge? What do you want to see more companies doing, to support women?

Each company is different and thoughtful consideration is required to deliver initiatives and programs unique to the needs and wants of female employees.

Some opportunities for support initiatives / programs are;

  • Pay parity between men and women;
  • Women’s networking and mentoring groups;
  • Onsite childcare;
  • Flexible working conditions / working from home; and/or
  • Post-maternity leave planning.

What needs to happen for everyone to Choose to Challenge gender bias? What would you like to see happening for gender bias to be challenged more than it currently is?

“It is critical to promote a culture of understanding and tolerance across the workforce, as this creates a positive environment where feelings, ideas and beliefs can be shared.”

I find that time spent resolving and talking through issues and seeking a new settlement of how things are done can be very rewarding. Positive disagreement within a group, if handled well, can be a huge positive.

How do you personally #ChooseToChallenge?

My challenge is to define what success looks like in my career, motherhood and marriage in a way that creates happiness and stability for both me as an individual, and my family. Returning from maternity leave after 10 weeks following both of my sons’ births, our family set our own normal with my husband being a stay-at-home Dad for our family and it works perfectly for us.


What does International Women’s Day mean to you?

International Women’s day is about celebrating the unique contribution that women make to all areas of life; within the home, workplace and community. It is also a day to recognize what progress is still required to help achieve the goal of a gender equal world.

What role do men play in achieving gender equality?

In order to build a more respectful and tolerant world for the next generation, there must be a genuine partnership between men and women in helping achieve gender equality. Men’s advocacy and action is vital when acting as change agents in the home, workplace and community to build more gender equal environments.

Which women are you inspired by in your organization and/or community and why?

“As a leader, mother and wife, I find Jacinda Arden’s display of leadership to be truly inspiring. Jacinda Arden is an inspiration to me as both a leader and mother. Her compassion, strength and leadership during the 2019 Christchurch tragedy and the speed in which she enacted new legislation about gun ownership in New Zealand, showed strong leadership during such a dark time.”


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About the Author
Samantha Sutherland is the Chief Storyteller at WORK180. She is a Diversity and Inclusion specialist with an analytical background, making her work evidence-based and data driven. Host of WORK180’s Equality Talks podcast and her own Women at Work, Samantha divides her time between interviewing amazing women for WORK180, mentoring and coaching women in, or aspiring to, leadership roles, and providing high-level advice on diversity practices to Australian corporations. You can learn more about the Samantha Sutherland consultancy at

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