A Q&A with two trailblazers: Hetty Johnston AM and Greg Layton
After events in Sydney and Melbourne, CreditorWatch concluded its series of International Women’s Day lunches at Alchemy Restaurant on a blue-skied afternoon in Brisbane. The Brisbane event was attended by a host of senior female leaders in business, as well as CreditorWatch Sales Manager George Wolf and his team, and two special guest speakers – Hetty Johnston AM and Greg Layton.
Freelance business journalist Ali Cain facilitated a meaningful discussion with our guest speakers and attendees on a range of topics, including diversity, empowerment and shaking down the status quo.
Hetty Johnston AM
Hetty Johnston AM is founder of Bravehearts, Australia’s leading child protection organisation that works to prevent and address child exploitation and sexual assault.
After realising there were no suitable organisations to turn to for help after her young daughter was assaulted, Hetty began Bravehearts to fill the void and help Australia’s youngest victims have a voice. In the 24 years that have passed, Hetty has advocated for the rights of sexual assault survivors and campaigned for child protection and political accountability in Australia.
Hetty has recently stepped down as CEO of the organisation and is keen to see what her next chapter looks like. But, if you know Hetty, you know it will be brave and bold – just like the woman herself.
Q: What are you most proud of achieving at Bravehearts?
A: I’m most proud of my family – of what they’ve endured and how they’ve come together. I’m also proud that we had a voice and broke the silence that endures after sexual assault.
Q: What can we do to help people have a productive discussion about diversity and sexual assault?
A: Chief Maker Greg Layton (our second speaker) sent me on a mission not that long ago to find out what was important to me as an individual, and there are two words that sum up the journey: integrity and respect. I think we often lack respect for each other, and that includes the respect women have for other women.
“Respect can seem like a big word with a lot of tentacles, but you know it when you see it. So, if you don’t see it, call it out.” – Hetty Johnston AM
Q: How do you introduce targets and quotas without the risk of the wrong person being in the role?
A: We do need targets, and everyone should be appointed on merit, but who decides who has the most merit?
If you’re in recruitment and you’re making a choice between two or three candidates, there can be an unconscious bias to go for the man. The man isn’t going to get pregnant, and if the kids are sick, he probably won’t be staying home.
It makes all kinds of business sense to go with the man, but it’s not healthy for our environment as a whole for that to always be the case.
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
A: It’s our opportunity as women to stand up and support each other, in the workplace and wherever we are. If females can’t support each other, we’re playing right into the hands of those in the community that want to keep the status quo. Whenever there is change, someone has to give something up. Some men are finding that hard. Hopefully we see that progress, and I think the debate that’s happening now will help enormously.
Greg Layton is an executive coach, author, speaker and founder of Chief Maker – an organisation that helps executive leaders inspire their employees, take charge of their personal development and leave a lasting legacy.
Greg’s list of achievements include interviewing more than 100 leaders for his podcast, The Inner Chief, training with Shaolin monks in remote China, and running a 250km ultra marathon across the Gobi and Atacama deserts.
Q: What did you learn from the Shaolin monks that you can bring to the diversity debate?
A: I learnt it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman training in martial arts. What matters is if you have the skills, technique and power to do the job. In that world, gender isn’t an issue. Everyone is focused on achieving excellence.
Q: What is imposter syndrome and how can we overcome it?
A: Imposter syndrome is the feeling you get when you start a job and think “I don’t think I really belong here”. Imposter syndrome is a confidence issue. In my experience with working with executives and athletes, confidence comes down to attribution bias.
Confidence is based on your ability to respond to what’s in front of you. So rather than think “I don’t know how to do this”, think about the root skill or process that you don’t understand (yet).
Q: I often see men take a ‘groupthink’ approach and not call out inappropriate behaviour. How can we change this?
A: This is a bigger behavioural issue and there are two ways we can address it.
- We need to help men learn to have social courage to speak out. It can be tricky, because in a world with tight friendships and bonds, the minute you break out of that is a risk to your identity.
- Sometimes, men aren’t comfortable in their own skin and can feel this “threat” coming from women because they feel they might lose their jobs or be challenged on their view of the world. The more we can help men understand their values, plans and how to be better fathers, husbands and partners, the less the threat is felt.
It was a rewarding and empowering afternoon, and a fitting end to our IWD 2021 events. CreditorWatch is continuing the facilitate the discussion of the themes raised in our events within our workplace, and is looking forward to introducing new initiatives that support diversity and gender equality.