8 March 2022

Selena Armstrong

CEO, New Zealand Institute of Safety Management

Kia ora members and supporters,

Someone recently commented on the volunteering undertaken by our organisation's leaders and how impressive it was that people could commit to volunteering when they had full-time jobs, careers, and often businesses to manage. I agreed wholeheartedly. People who volunteer for a cause or purpose they are passionate about deserve our recognition and unwavering gratitude.

As we discussed the commitment and energy required to contribute in such a significant way, it dawned on me that in all likelihood, this member was able to contribute so successfully because they had a capable and supportive wife/partner who managed their “life admin”. Not to detract from their contribution, which is significant, but chances are, this individual didn't have to juggle work AND kid's school/homework/extracurricular activities, let alone the home-schooling we have had to manage the last few years.

They probably didn’t run the family accounts, ensure cupboards were full of food, or the kid's clothes and shoes were fit for purpose. In comparing working men and working women and the support they receive from partners at home, in my experience, it is unique to find a woman supported by a partner who takes on the majority of homelife work so she can focus on achieving career success. The women I meet who achieve great success in their careers, often achieve success despite all they have going on at home, not because of it.

There are, however, exceptions. I recall hearing ex-WorkSafe CEO, Nicole Rosie, speaking at a conference a few years ago. She acknowledged being lucky to have an incredibly supportive husband whose role was focused on the home, which enabled her to follow her career aspirations. She was clear - she couldn’t have done it without his commitment to their home life. I recall imagining at the time, what I could achieve if I had a partner who took on the additional tasks of life and home admin and left me to focus on my career. Just imagine what we all could achieve with that level of support behind us.

It is my view that one of the most important things you can do to increase your chance of career success is find yourself a partner who is willing to take on the responsibilities of home and life admin or at the very least undertake it on an equal footing. An even distribution of the responsibilities outside of the workplace will go a long way towards supporting the achievement of equal opportunities within the workplace.

This leads me to single out the women who are achieving great success in their careers AND who manage to find the time to volunteer at NZISM while juggling kids/home life admin, these are our superheroes. In celebration of International Women's Day on 8th March, I want to acknowledge all the wahine working full time, who have families to support, homes and businesses to run and organisations to lead. With responsibility for the health and safety of many, you still find time to ensure the success of others by gifting your valuable time and talents to your profession.

Thank you - you know who you are. There are too many of you to name but you are all incredible wahine toa. How lucky are we, that you have chosen health and safety as your career path.

Ngā mihi,

Selena Armstrong