Women are underrepresented in decision making roles in the Catholic Church in Australia, however, within the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle we have wonderful women influencing others and leading a number of our agencies and Catholic schools.
To celebrate the contribution of all women in our region, Aurora interviewed six inspiring women who hold leadership roles in the Diocese on what motivates them and what guidance they could offer to others.
Lauren Hayes: Director of St Nicholas Raymond Terrace.
What is your role and what does it involve?
I am the director of St Nicholas Raymond Terrace. As this is a management position, my role involves overseeing the day to day practices and happenings of service. But in order to be successful in my role, it also requires me to be a leader. In early childhood education, this involves being a support and mentor to a team of early childhood professionals. It is my role to inspire and empower them to strive for quality and continuous improvement for the children within their care, their families and the wider community.
Does faith influence the way you lead in the diocese? If so, how?
To me, having faith is not just about whether I classify myself as being part of a certain religion but more about the values and beliefs that I have. Honesty, persistence, respect and positivity are some of my core values and these greatly influence everything that I do in my day to day life including the way that I lead in the diocese.
Why do you think it is important to have women in leadership roles?
I think that it is important to have a balance in leadership roles between men and women as they can each bring their own unique qualities and experiences to their workplaces. I think that by having women in leadership roles, it empowers other women to believe that they are worth it and it can be done. It is often assumed that women can only be in leadership roles if they choose to not have a family of their own or that if they do, they will have to choose between their children or their career. Why can’t they have both?
What would you say to women wanting to be leaders?
If you believe in yourself, then you’re half way there.
The theme for International Women’s Day is ‘balance for better’. What does this mean to you?
It’s being inclusive and acknowledging and respecting both men and women equally in not just the workplace but also in the community. In early childhood, we talk about inclusion and how we can best support children to be included in our classrooms and in every day. As early childhood professionals, we reflect and find ways to give children the ability to feel as though they belong and that they can be themselves and that they will be accepted and respected for who they are as individuals.
Do you have a female role model? If so, can you please share with us what about them inspires you?
Someone who has really inspired me recently is Chelsea Pottenger. Chelsea is an internationally accredited mindfulness and meditation teacher, ambassador of R u Ok? Charity and The Gidget Foundation and has her own company - EQ consulting Co. I was able to watch Chelsea speak last year and she inspired me to invest in myself and that it’s not selfish to take care of my own health and wellbeing because I’m not the best leader if I’m not the best ‘me’. This advice and reminder has definitely helped me to become a better leader and role model.
What is your proudest accomplishment?
Shortly after I bought a house and moved to Newcastle from Sydney, I went through a relationship breakdown and had to make a decision about what I wanted to do with a life I was only just starting to build. I could have given up in that moment moved back to Sydney to be with my family and my support network and let go of a house that I had worked so hard to buy. OR I could stand up for myself and do everything that I could to stay. It was in that moment that I decided to believe in myself and that I was worth something. I chose to be proud of who I was and what I had achieved and chose ‘me’. In the 6 months that followed, there were so many days where I wanted to give up. It was a really tough time and learnt a lot about life and about myself during that process. The day that I chose me and I believed that I was worth it was my biggest accomplishment.
* According to a January 2018 study by Business Council of Australia, McKinsey & Company and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.