Awards celebrate 20 years of brilliant women

Media Release, 06 May 2014

Brilliant Australian business women now have the opportunity to be recognised as part of a generation of the nations’ top female professionals, in the 20th year of the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.

Since 1995 the Telstra Business Women’s Awards have honoured business women from all walks of life whose passion, leadership and achievements make a positive impact in business and the community at local, national or international level.

The first Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year, 1995 winner Sue Vardon, reflecting on changes for women in business over the past 20 years, said “Women are doing original work in every sphere of the business world previously dominated by men and taking their products and services globally.

“Women are now very adventurous and less likely to be put off course by nay-sayers. However, there is still a built-in bias that needs challenging, with some women still carrying the double responsibility of work and home management. If we make up 50 per cent of the workforce, why are we not 50 per cent at every level?”

Ms. Vardon, who was CEO of South Australia’s Department of Correctional Services in 1995, said, “My win highlighted the fact that public servants were business people which caused a lot of debate at the time. It gave me confidence and also a profile and credibility which I am sure helped my next career move to set up Centrelink.”

Past Telstra Awards winners also include retailers Carolyn Creswell of Carman’s Foods and Janine Allis of Boost Juice, cook and food author Maggie Beer, Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, WA mine manager Julie Shuttleworth and ABC Board member Jane Bennett.

Kate McKenzie, Telstra Chief Operations Officer and Telstra Business Women’s Awards Ambassador, said today: “We all know brilliant women who influenced and motivated us or their wider community. We’re calling for nominations and entries of these inspirational women in the Awards this year.

“The landscape today is very different to what it was 20 years ago and while there are new opportunities for women, there are still some challenges. Twenty years ago the Awards encouraged women to break through the glass ceiling; today they play an important part in celebrating innovation and encouraging diversity across industries.

“We believe in celebrating and championing women in business, giving them an opportunity to grow their networks and encouraging mentoring of the next generation to create a brilliant connected future for them and all other women who follow in their footsteps,” Ms McKenzie said.

Nominations can be made at the Telstra Business Women’s Award’s website or by calling 1800 817 536. Entries are open from 26 May to 14 July 2014. The Telstra Awards finalists and winners share in a total prize pool of more than $650,000.

As the Official Partner of the Awards, CommBank’s Karen James, General Manager, Women in Focus and Affiliate Business Banking said, “For 20 years the Telstra Business Women’s Awards have celebrated the achievements of women in business leading to a change in the confidence women have in recognising their accomplishments.”

The Women in Focus community supports the women involved in the Awards by connecting them to a community where conversations and collaborations lead to the unleashing of further potential.

The Telstra Awards are open to business owners, women in the private and corporate sector and in the community and government sectors, with two specialist categories for business innovation and young business women.

For all entrants, the Awards are a chance for reflection and to recharge their future business goals. For finalists and winners, they’re an opportunity to share ideas with peers and connect with women outside their sector.

More Awards information is available on the Women in Focus website or by calling 1800 817 536.