For Kylie Jones, it was her work on the AIA Women at Work committee that won her this year’s Advocate of the Year award.
The judges commented that Jones, change manager for Infinity at AIA, was an “excellent example of someone working hard to advance women at work”.
She began her career at AIA in Melbourne in 2012 after a nine-year stint in the United Kingdom and says she “fell into” the insurance industry. As a way to get to know people at the firm, she volunteered for the firm’s Women at Work committee and became its co-chair two years ago.
Having been formed in 2011, the committee runs activities and events, lunch and learn sessions and raises awareness within the firm of gender equality.
“It is about having senior leaders modelling behaviour such as doing school drop-offs and not being penalised for that, it is not just about childcare either but about having a work-life balance and being able to work flexibly,” she commented.
“I volunteered for Women at Work as I have an interest in gender equality and it is a great way to network. You make a difference in people’s lives and we know we are having an impact, it is not just something happening in the background.”
Unlike many financial services firms, she praised AIA for its gender equality which had an equal gender split on its executive board and a 48% split in senior leadership which was unusual for the sector.
As to what she would recommend to another female starting out in the industry, she said it was important to understand all the different roles available and find out where you would be a good fit. She also felt it had matured over the years and was a ‘family-friendly’ workplace.
“You don’t have to be really good at numbers, there is such a breadth of different opportunities. We are seeing more and more female leaders coming through in financial services.
“It is a very family-friendly industry, it is changing from just being men in suits and it isn’t cut-throat, it is the opposite from the Wolf of Wall Street nowadays.”