CRCE At the Table Event

We caught up with Lisa Mulligan, Global Diversity and Inclusion Director for Worley, who was guest speaker at a recent event At the Table networking and career group for women. Lisa shared insights on the topic of being ‘The Only Woman in the Room’; a culmination of experience and knowledge of what it takes to progress to more senior roles, particularly when surrounded by men.

As Global Diversity and Inclusion Director, what does your role involve?
My role is responsible for supporting and championing diversity and inclusion within our global business. This involves driving our strategy, goals and actions, policies and program development, and governance and reporting work. Ultimately, I want to contribute to developing a culture where people feel they can be themselves, do their best work and contribute to the success of our business.

When have you faced a challenging situation as ‘The Only Woman in the Room’ and what did you do to overcome the challenge?
A few years ago, while working for a different company, I traveled from Sydney to the UK to attend the business strategy and budget review meeting. During one part of the meeting, the leader asked the two Human Resources people to leave the room because we wouldn’t be able to contribute! We were the only two women in the room. It was embarrassing and mortifying to travel 24 hours to be dismissed, especially as the leader of the business group I worked for and supported felt it was important that HR were present to understand and contribute to the business decisions.

Following the meeting, I worked hard to develop my relationship with that specific leader to ensure he understood my capability and commercial acumen, so that I was never asked to leave again!

How can we as women inspire, mentor and advocate for other women and their career progression?
It’s crucial that women just do this for each other. Period. It takes absolutely nothing away from us to be supportive of other women and celebrate their achievements. The way I do this is to take time and have conversations with women if they are struggling or need advice. I attend events like At the Table to share my experiences and if I see a woman doing a great job, I make sure I tell them and others.

How can male leaders better support their female colleagues?
I have worked with some fantastic male leaders and I have appreciated their guidance, mentoring and career development. I think there are two things male leaders can do to better support their female colleagues. The first would be to listen to and understand their perspective and experience. This includes understanding the challenges they have gone through in their career.

The second is to sponsor and advocate for women in meetings when they might not be there, particularly when new roles and/or promotion opportunities are being discussed. I have been fortunate to have men advocating for me in these meetings, which has meant I have been offered opportunities that I may not have had access to otherwise.

What are your top tips for women who are trying to advance in their careers, particularly if they are in male-dominated industries?
Spending nearly all my career in industrial and male-dominated industries has taught me to be pragmatic and assertive and also that timing is everything. We need more women in senior roles to contribute to business decisions that affect customers, employees and our communities and it’s important that women progress in their careers so they can be financially independent. To do this we need to be super organized, tenacious and not give up, even if at times we really want to. We need to support each other and celebrate the unique contributions women make.