Lisa Annese on our gendered roles at home and work

Lisa Annese, CEO of the Diversity Council of Australia

I loved this conversation with Lisa Annese from the Diversity Council of Australia. She really challenged my thinking, and I learned a lot from her about unconscious beliefs I still have around gendered roles.

She spoke about privilege, what real choice looks like and the fallacy of merit. 

Lisa really dove into the relationship between home life and work life, the heavily gendered expectations we have for men and women and how workplace equality is one thing, but equality in the home is just as important for enabling and creating change. 

Lisa’s passion for inclusion and fairness is infectious, and I hope you learn as much as I did.

In this episode we discuss:

  • The fundamental conversation we should be having regarding gender equality is workplace sexual harassment
  • DCA’s work, ‘I stand for respect’, about building respectful workplace cultures 
  • The different hats Lisa wears as businesswoman, activist and feminist
  • Privilege and power, and how it is distributed in our workplaces
  • The merit myth and the knowledge that the pathway to leadership is not based only on merit
  • Companies who focus on gender equality have increased inclusion scores for men and women, so men benefit from gender equality initiatives as much as women
  • The four features of inclusive organisations: belonging, respect, meaningful work, and opportunities for development
  • Lisa’s concern that affirmative action programs don’t encourage intersectionality
  • We should be moving towards more shared care, and that workplaces should encourage men to take parental leave and flexibility
  • Relationships on an individual level need to be more equal, and men need to take more responsibility for raising children
  • The uneven sharing of mental load, and visible and invisible tasks in the home between men and women
  • Men’s health and wellbeing benefit from being in gender equal relationships, families and workplaces

About Lisa Annese

Lisa Annese has been the Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Council Australia since June 2nd, 2014. In this role she leads debate on diversity and inclusion in the public arena, and as a result appears regularly on ABC’s The Drum and in wider Australian media.

Under her leadership, DCA delivers innovative diversity practice resources for Australian businesses and supports in them improving their inclusion capability. She has led a broad array of ground-breaking, evidence based research, including Australia’s first national index on workplace diversity and inclusion, seminal research on the economics of the gender pay-gap and original work on building Asian Leadership Capability, as well as research supporting individuals being “Out at Work” and main-streaming flexible work.

In 2018, Lisa was named one of the AFR’s 100 Women of Influence. In 2019 she was elected to the Board of Amnesty International Australia.  Lisa is also Executive Producer of DCA’s podcast, The Art of Inclusion.

Lisa has had a long career in the diversity and inclusion space across the corporate, government and not-for-profit sector.

Some of her career highlights include:

  • Advocating for policy action in areas including government funded paid parental leave, closing the gender pay gap, achieving Australian Marriage Equality, maintaining protections in the Race Discrimination Act (Cth 1995) and more recently advocating for greater representation of women and girls in STEM careers, reducing the incidence of sexual harassment and violence against women and for greater multi-faith inclusion without regressive religious freedom laws.
  • Presenting DCA research internationally, recently at a UNESCO Summit in Baku, Azerbaijan, at the University of Patras, Greece and the University of Texas, US.  She has also represented DCA at the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations in both Doha (Qatar) and Kerala (India).
  • At the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (formerly EOWA), developing the first ever census of ‘Australian Women in Leadership’, the first ever ‘Business Achievement Awards’, the creation of the ‘Employer of Choice for Women’ citation and the development and implementation of the policy framework for the EOWA Act (1999) with Australian businesses. For her contribution at EOWA, she was awarded a Medal for Significant Contribution to the Australian Public Service.
  • Co-authoring “Chief Executives Unplugged: CEO’s Get Real About Women in the Workplace”.

Lisa has a business degree from UTS (Sydney) and a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources. She is raising three independent and broad minded daughters with her husband in Sydney, along with a large contingent of dogs, birds and rabbits.


To learn more about what I can do to help you move the dial on gender equality in your workplace, click the button below.

You’re very good at what you do. Everyone loved your energy and was really impressed.

Sophie Anning, Corporate Affairs Director, MARS Petcare

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