International Women’s Day with Communications Collective

Genevieve Brannigan and Nicky Drobis, IWD 2024

Nicky/FK: How do you think we can foster inclusive workplaces and empower women to become successful leaders like yourself? 

GB: The word that immediately springs to mind is collaboration. To strive for equality, we must learn to work alongside one another and gain insights from each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Having open conversations where we can learn from each other will be the most important catalyst for change.

 In the early days of my career, it often felt as though women had to shrink themselves to blend into the corporate mold. It was much more difficult for people to express themselves or bring their unique qualities and diversity to the workplace. I remember feeling pressure to wear a particular type of corporate attire and trying to blend in with men in order to be taken seriously. 

I encourage women to embrace their feminine superpowers and believe that having a highly diverse team is increasingly becoming vital for many businesses in the industry—be it gender diversity, economic background, age, or ethnic background. Having different perspectives helps solve problems and ensures a more dynamic team. I hope this outlook continues to expand throughout the business world. 


Nicky/FK: Have you encountered female supporters and mentors on your journey? 

GB: Yes, absolutely. I’ve encountered many female supporters along my career journey. There’s also an amazing array of strong females around me in the business and in the industry more broadly who genuinely care and always give you the time of day—whether you have something specific you need guidance or advice about or just want to have a chat about life. I make a point of doing the same for others, too.

The women I admire most in the industry are also my mentors and friends. While they are fantastic in their professional roles, I consider their true success to be in the genuine relationships they forge with others. They are selfless in sharing their knowledge, learnings, and even their mistakes to help others on their journey. Therefore, they truly earn their peers’ and colleagues’ trust and respect on a human level. 


Nicky/FK: Along your journey, how have you felt juggling your family, children, and work?

GB: I think part of the struggle of society today is that we have to navigate pressures from multiple sources – work, family, financial, and then add in world events like war and environmental pressures, and it can seem overwhelming. 

As a working mother, you must get used to having two balls in the air and two balls in your hands at all times. I think it’s about letting go of the idea of perfection and having radical honesty with work and yourself. As a mum, you also learn to be ruthlessly organised but accept when things don’t go as planned – we simply can’t control everything! Reaching out to your team when you need some extra support builds a strong culture among your colleagues, which is super important. 


Collectivity Talks, IWD 2024

Nicky/FK: Taking everything into consideration, how do you divide things within a family so that you have roles and responsibilities that fulfil your needs and responsibilities? 

We have always been proud to offer industry-leading parental policies to our team, so when it was my turn to take maternity leave, I felt super supported in my role. I was able to take a year off and knew that I could rely on my amazing team to keep CC’s wheels in motion. I have been able to establish this flexible life where I could be a mum but also go to work, slowly integrating it into a four-day week, which was very effective. 


Nicky/FK: Women have started making great inroads across the architecture & design industry, but we still have a way to go. How do you think things like the gender pay gap are affecting workplaces?

GB: With a greater policy focus on giving meaningful parental leave to both parents and I hope that working parents will be able to find more balance and that employers will be retain the talent that would have previously lost. 

From a policy perspective, the government recently announced that from July 1 they would be paying super on government-paid parental leave, which is a promising step. Although it is worth recognising that this is on minimum wage, there will still be an average 24% gap in superannuation at the end of the year, which is a significant deficiency for women to live on.  If there are circumstances where women may be living alone or separated from their partners, in reality, it isn’t enough to support working mothers. So, while it is a step in the right direction, much more support is needed to bridge the gap.

To see sustainable change, we must see our leaders take more proactive measures to support women in reaching their full potential. Promising things are happening, and we’re beginning to see more excellent representation of women in senior leadership positions, but we’re not there yet. Encouraging an open dialogue about these topics will be the most important and effective way to break down these barriers. We have to understand that humanity isn’t one-dimensional; it’s multi-faceted, and by encouraging honesty and communication within business, we will see the best results.