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Breaking the Bias, reflecting on International Women's Month 2022

As International women's month has drawn to a close this year, we are reflecting on stories, wisdom, and words of empowerment shared by so many incredible women and organisations through virtual events our ECG team participated in. The theme for 2022 was ‘Breaking the Bias’, which is something Pasifika women are faced with daily in their workspaces.

ECG Director Sara Jane Elika took part in the ‘As you’ Speaker Panel: ‘What Makes You Uniquely Valuable as a Women of Colour in the Workplace?,’ focusing on the month's theme, “Breaking the bias”. Joined by Audrey Cheng, a well-recognised product leader in New Zealand and Chief Technology Officer at “Imagr”, both speakers talked about their own experiences from Asia and Pacific perspectives.

The panel highlighted that culture in the workplace is a complicated issue. For Sara-Jane, “it is important to understand we are all on a journey to understand culture personally and professionally. Openness to education surrounding history and what it means to be culturally diverse is crucial.”

(Top image: Sara-Jane Elika, Bottom image: Audrey Cheng) Audrey offered her insights and advice on being confident with communicating a unique perspective, “use self-reflection as a tool, ask yourself how did I communicate that message?”. She also mentioned the significance of working on public speaking and continuing to find the best ways to deliver. Sara-Jane emphasised, “creating change and leading diversity efforts at work are important and need to be balanced with excelling in the role you’re in”. For those in leadership positions, Sara-Jane's advice is to “Champion voices in spaces that may not be heard… and Be the voice where you can see there is no voice.” ECG Directors also participated in the “Wave of the Moana” women’s virtual event hosted by the Pasifika Medical Association in partnership with the Pacific Media Network. Through“talanoa” , a well known practice in the Pacific, meaning to hold ‘conversations, to share and chat’ ,brought together an inspirational group of Pasifika women speaking and reflecting on their own life experiences and learnings.

CEO of F’INE and LGBTQ+ rights activist Phylesha Brown-Acton, spoke about the significance of bias throughout her life. “The key thing for me around understanding bias , is that you can’t close yourself off to not understanding how it manifests itself. Once you start to understand how it contributes to putting you in a particular predicament, you can then understand how you navigate processes to deal with it or manage it.”

Machaela Tepai, a University of Otago Medical student, has overcome bias by embracing her Cook Island Heritage, “I’ve overcome these biases and challenges by being who I am and standing on the shoulders of my ancestors, my families. Being myself and being true to me. That’s been a good way to overcome challenges in the healthcare system.” Itagia Togi Fa’avaoga, Head Girl of Ōtāhuhu College, was the youngest member of the panel and spoke about working through the struggles of Covid 19, “You have to put in the hard Mahi [work] to get to where you want to be. Despite the circumstances that we’re in, we have to keep pushing. Keep moving forward and prepare ourselves for our future, families, churches, and the village behind us.”

Reflecting on International Women's Day this year, our ECG team are motivated in continuing to advocate and uphold our purpose and our value of Resilience - Mau fetu’unai towards our collective journey in “breaking the bias”.

We are passionate, pacific professionals who can confidently navigate obstacles as opportunities to learn , grow and succeed.

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