People | Telstra Careers |

Supporting our trans and gender diverse team members

By Alex Badenoch November 18, 2021

We care about creating an environment that’s inclusive and supportive for our people – a place where everyone can truly be themselves.

Our new Gender Affirmation Leave (GAL) policy is another way that we can demonstrate how Telstra supports everyone to be themselves at home and at work. It means that any eligible permanent employee based in Australia who wants to affirm their gender can access eight weeks paid leave to take the legal, medical or social steps they need to be who they are.

We’re proud to announce this during Trans Awareness Week – a week which brings us together to celebrate the trans and gender diverse community. It’s also an opportunity to raise awareness and help us all learn more about gender diversity and the importance of being a trans ally.

We’re also pleased that Mark Latchford from Pride in Diversity has recognised our policy, saying “Telstra has created a market leading policy for employees who want to affirm their gender. With eight weeks paid leave, this policy is vital for people who need access to this type of support from an employer. This policy affirms Telstra’s commitment to supporting its people and fostering diversity and inclusion.”

Many of us might not know much about what it means to affirm your gender – but this is our chance to listen and learn from some transgender members of our community, and also some people in their teams who have helped them go through the process.

Through our GAL policy, we want to make it easier for our transgender and gender diverse employees to be themselves; part of that is everyone understanding their experiences. We asked some of our people, and their allies, to explain their experience of affirming their gender in the workplace.

Maddie’s story

Maddie Sumner, from our Cyber Influence team, shared some insights about her affirmation journey.

“I remember how frightening it was to come out as transgender – when suddenly my career became fragile and life decisions came with risk. Transitioning is not simple or easy for most … On one hand, the ‘chains are off’ and you’re free to be yourself, but who is that? Your identity, reality changes, and people around you act differently.

“Living as a transgender person would be much less difficult if people had more understanding. I think there’d be less stigma around transitioning and others would speak more responsibly.

“When I joined Telstra, I had already begun wearing feminine clothes, updated my legal name and transitioned socially – so all of the amazing people I’ve met here only know me as Maddie! I did however, choose to use all of my accumulated sick leave to undergo surgery and my close colleagues were very supportive.

“This new policy will help ensure each transgender person who affirms their gender at Telstra can feel more comfortable, supported and not pressured to share personal information. It will also standardise the process to be easier, respectful and discreet.

“It’s very easy to support someone who is affirming their gender. Simply respect their lived experiences (even if you don’t understand) and, don’t be afraid to politely ask someone what their pronouns are (if you’re unsure).”

Amy’s story

Amy Stephens from our Group Internal Audit team shared some of her story, and so did her leader, Hayley and her teammate, Steph Ericjoy.

Amy Stephens, Group Internal Audit

Transition (social, medical and legal) isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s a life-long journey. I spent several years trying to work out whether I would welcome my team into my journey, and by the time I did tell them, I was already well into my medical transition.

I had genuine fear that I would be ostracised, that I would be treated differently (in a negative way) and that I would potentially lose my job because I needed to transition.

When I told my friend Steph at work, she was like ‘OK, that’s cool, do you need any help from me?’ my first thought was ‘wait, I can actually be me at work’. It changed everything and gave me so much confidence.

My people leader, Hayley and Steph were both extremely supportive. They were open to listening to what I needed to do, and wanted to be active participants to take away some of the burden, such as updating my name in the systems and communications to the rest of the team.

The GAL policy will make a massive difference because it gives certainty. It says ‘at Telstra we support you, and we want you to be you.

My advice to anyone wanting to be an ally or show support would be to be curious, not make assumptions and give us the chance to tell our story. Be loud and be proud in your support of trans people, listen to what the trans community is saying and amplify our voices. 

Amy’s Leader – Hayley

I felt humbled Amy felt comfortable enough to discuss her story with me. In our first conversation about her transition, Amy mentioned she had chosen this time to tell me (and the rest of the team) about her gender affirmation process to make sure she could introduce herself to new team members who were joining our team in the coming weeks as Amy – rather than have to meet them and introduce herself with her previous name and pronouns. Hearing she was facing this dilemma was an eye-opener was something I hadn’t considered as one of the barriers and challenges faced by those transitioning.

In supporting Amy, I wanted to ensure I acknowledged the absolute importance of this process and gave it all the attention it deserved – but equally, I didn’t want to make too much of a big deal about something that (in an ideal world) should not even require “a process”.

However, I realised it was not about “making a big deal” about Amy’s gender affirmation – it was more about celebrating her and the start of a new phase of her life, and reinforcing she had the whole team’s support.  

Amy’s teammate, Steph Ericjoy

When Amy reached out to me, my immediate reaction was to find out how I could help and make sure they felt well supported the whole time. It was the least I could do to help a team member and friend be who they are at work.

As an ally or someone supporting a person affirming their gender, I’d say be supportive and approachable. This is an important stage in their journey and the next steps should be given the dedication they deserve.

Skye Wu working at her desk at Telstra
Advice | Telstra Careers |

My advice for female techies looking to grow their career

By Skye Wu June 8, 2020

In recent decades, women in the tech industry have made great strides in overcoming biases in the workplace and in hiring practices.

Like many industries today, the tech sector is providing more and more opportunities for women to build their own careers. My own journey at Telstra is a testament to that.

Overcoming personal and professional challenges

My main personal challenge is one I was unfortunately born with: self-doubt, self-defeat and self-sabotage. This continued on through high school, university and long afterward where I would sometimes turn down opportunities and say no unless I was completely sure I could do a job. I would put myself down believing it was a sign of modesty.

But this internal dialogue was also mirrored in my surroundings. At university, I was discouraged from pursuing a career in tech specialising in digital forensics as it’s a very male-dominated industry.

To be taken seriously and accepted as an equal to my male counterparts in the same role has been a long, hard road. But the moments where I took a leap and dove into the unknown was where I experienced the most personal development and growth.

It really took a great leader to recognise my abilities. They were able to prod me in the right way, get me to move out of my comfort zone and believe in myself.

My advice for women in tech

It’s really important to build yourself a solid support network, seek out industry events and join industry groups. There is the Australian Women in Security Network (AWSN) and the Australian Women in Security Network Cadets (AWSN Cadets). There are many experienced men and women who are supportive of new talent entering the industry. Networking will help you connect.

Be open to new opportunities, even if people, or your own inner voice, are telling you “no.” A very wise industry influencer once told me, “if you’re feeling challenged, it means you are growing!”

Know who you are and your values as an individual. Write them down on post-it notes and put them somewhere to view when you need to remember your strengths. Even though there is far more support for women working in and seeking out career opportunities in the tech industry, you still have to be your own best friend.

A sign saying difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations

What Telstra is doing

My team at Telstra sits within the Threat Research and Intelligence group led by Chris Mohan. Chris is an industry-recognised champion of change and an active supporter of women in cyber security. He has actively encouraged me to become more visible in the industry and work with other organisations in cyber security, such as the Australian Women in Security Network.

He has pushed me and other female colleagues out of our comfort zones to speak publicly and is a supporter of diversity in thinking and skills, not just gender.

Telstra also supports its people with memberships so we can attend industry events with organisations such as the Australian Information Security Association and conferences such as CyberCon. Some Telstra teams also have industry partnerships with sponsorship that offers us opportunities to attend conferences and networking events aimed exclusively at women, such as FitT (Female in IT and Telecommunications). There is also the option of free training via LinkedIn Learning for all employees to access and improve their skills.

As the largest telecommunications and technology company in Australia, Telstra offers many different career opportunities for diverse skill sets. It encourages and supports flexible working, and there are internal support groups for women such as Brilliant Connected Women (BCW) — a group that supports and champions gender equality. This group is open to all Telstra people and creates opportunities within the organisation for women across the company.

If you want to learn about why Telstra is passionate about diversity and inclusion, you can find out here.

If you’re interested in bringing your skills to a company that champions diversity, take a look at our latest job opportunities.

Telstra Careers Forum
Inspiration | Telstra Careers |

A passion for tech that’s inspiring girls worldwide

By Ami Pasricha September 13, 2019

I chose to study engineering because of my brother. He was in the middle of a degree and suggested that I give it a try.

Until then, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I dreamt of being a chef, an accountant and for a while, an actress. But the first time I thought seriously about my career was when I enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering at Monash University.

That was five years ago. Since then I’ve gone through Telstra’s Graduate Program and now work in the Customer Co-Creation and Innovation Space in Product Engineering.

My role includes bringing together deep network experts, customers and partners to unlock new technology opportunities for Telstra.

I’m very happy to be working here. The company’s focus on flexibility and professional development has allowed me to seamlessly manage my day-to-day responsibilities.

The thing that gets me really excited about engineering and technology, and why I love doing what I’m doing, is that it is so versatile and full of real-life applications. It’s about the impact that you are having through the technology solution being developed, as opposed to just playing around with some cool tech.

It’s this passion that I want to foster through Robogals.

Robogals aims to inspire, engage and empower young women to pursue engineering and related fields, and I think that’s what it all comes down to. I had no idea what engineering was about. I was lucky that my brother recommended it, but a lot of people, especially young girls, don’t have that opportunity. That’s why I’m so passionate about what the organisation is trying to achieve.

As the CEO, I’m spearheading a global initiative to encourage young women into STEM. So far, Robogals has run more than 3500 workshops and has reached over 75,000 girls, and over 115,000 students.

Being part of something that introduces young girls to robotics, coding and other areas of engineering is deeply gratifying. We recently ran a workshop in Melbourne which was to do with binary numbers, something I didn’t learn until my first year of university. But we are able to get girls as young as five years old thinking about this stuff. And they love it. They get so engaged and involved, the little kids especially.

While I recognise that true equality is still a little way off when it comes to women in STEM, I believe that more and more employers are making lasting commitments to gender diversity in the workplace.

Telstra is one of many companies that has endorsed a gender diversity policy in their efforts to foster a more inclusive work environment. Their ongoing support has also enabled me to devote time and energy to Robogals and to see the organisation reach new heights.

Want to learn more about what diversity and inclusion means to us here at Telstra? You can find out more here.

Ready to take the next step in your career? Explore jobs now.

Wear It Purple Day panel - Telstra
Community | Inspiration | Sustainability |

Why we support Wear It Purple

By Kylie Fuller August 30, 2019

In support of Wear It Purple Day on 30 August, our Diversity and Inclusion Principal Kylie Fuller chats to Wear It Purple President and Director, Ross Wetherbee.

Our purpose is to build a connected future so everyone can thrive. We can only achieve that by having an inclusive culture where every employee can bring their whole self to work.

Our commitment to inclusion is championed by our Spectrum network, which creates opportunities for our LGBTI+ employees and allies to connect, both inside and outside Telstra. We’re a founding member of Pride in Diversity, an employer support program dedicated to improving the health and wellbeing of LGBTI+ people. We also show our support by taking part in events such as Melbourne’s Midsumma Festival, Pink Dot in Hong Kong and Singapore, IDAHOBIT Day and Wear It Purple Day.

Wear It Purple Day panel - Telstra

We’re a proud partner of Wear It Purple and their work to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people. Ahead of Wear It Purple Day this year, I chatted to President and Director of Wear It Purple, Ross Wetherbee, about his experience growing up and the importance of support networks and visible role models.

Wear It Purple Day panel - Telstra

Kylie Fuller: What was it like for you growing up in regional NSW?

Ross Wetherbee: I felt lonely, fearful and anxious about the future during my adolescent years. I was not ‘out’ about my sexuality until I moved away from home to attended university; in high school, I quickly realised through the behaviours of my peers that being gay was not seen as a positive attribute.

The words ‘fag’, ‘poofter’ and more were commonplace put-downs, and the absence of any affirming signs or signals that it would be okay to be ‘out’ among my classmates relegated me to the ‘closet’.

I thought at that time that I could remain there forever.

KF: Was there anyone in your social circles at that time who you could identify with?

RW: There were no students in my year group who were same-sex attracted, let alone another LGBTI+ identity. At this time, in the late-90s, I had not even considered gender identity or thought of people who were transgender, and there was no visibility of transgender people where I grew up. It scares me to think about what someone who struggled with their gender identity at this time would have been thinking, feeling or experiencing.

KF: Have your family and friends been supportive?

RW: My parents were supportive of me in school and sporting endeavours, but I was not out to them. It’s not anything they did that kept me ‘in the closet’; I just can’t recall any actions or behaviours that encouraged me to leap out of it either. An organisation like Wear It Purple would have had a profound impact on my school and schooling experience.

I knew of kids in other schools who were out and they were bullied relentlessly, and I know of people who have died by suicide as a result of this kind of bullying.

KF: What do you want people to know about Wear It Purple?

RW: Wear It Purple is a youth-led non-profit organisation that strives to foster supportive, safe, empowering and inclusive environments for rainbow young people.

It was founded in 2010 in response to global stories of real teenagers, real heartache and their very real responses. In 2010, several rainbow young people took their own lives following bullying and harassment resulting from the lack of acceptance of their sexuality or gender identity.

Since 2010, Wear It Purple has developed into an international movement. New generations of rainbow young people continue to be dedicated to promoting the annual expression of support and acceptance to rainbow young people.

We’re unique in that we are an LGBTI+ youth charity that is 100 per cent volunteer-led and run, with not one paid employee. I’m so incredibly proud that we’re associated with Telstra and grateful for the support that Telstra provides, so we can support more and more rainbow young people and their schools every year.

Join us on Friday 30 August to celebrate Wear It Purple Day, and learn more about Wear It Purple at the Wear It Purple website.

Emily Daubney takes part in a graduate female engineering event to share her first job wisdom.
People | Tech and Innovation | Telstra Careers |

4 things I wish I knew before starting my first job

By Emily Daubney May 2, 2018

Earlier this month I was invited to share my experience of transitioning from university to the world of work at a Telstra sponsored Grad Girls event attended by around 40 young women nearing the end of their undergraduate degree.

Grad Girls is a one year program run by Vic ICT for Women that helps female undergraduates make informed decisions about the first step in their career paths as well as start their professional network.

Having graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering and Science degree only a few years ago, I remember being in the same position as these young women.

As I sat on the stage answering questions from this group of women who are all on-track to graduate, I was reminded of my own feelings of excitement as I looked ahead to all the unknowns in my first full-time job.

So, here are four things I wish I knew before tackling my first job after university.