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Maija makes her mark

A partnership designed to support outstanding women leaders in the not-for-profit sector has awarded two prestigious scholarships, and one of them has gone to one of Vinnies’ very own.

Maija Hildebrand, our Manager of Service Development, has been awarded the ‘Entry to the C-Suite’ scholarship, which means she has been participating in a six-month program designed to accelerate growth and career readiness as a leader.

The program is delivered as a partnership between the Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS) and Tower Human Capital, which developed the program in 2017.

Maija says the program has given her insight into the importance of sponsorship – a concept that the program is focused around.

“Sponsorship is different from mentorship or coaching. It is essentially having senior leaders in the organisation recognising leadership potential in their employees and then actively encouraging their career development.

“The C-suite program high calibre guest speakers such as the Honourable Supreme Court Justice Jenni Hill, really demonstrated the crucial role of sponsors for women who often face many barriers to progress their careers.

“I would love to see the idea of sponsorship be more commonly talked about in the non-profit sector because although over 75 per cent of the sector workforce is made up of women, there is still a gender imbalance when it comes to the leadership level. I believe it is important to foster women’s career potential at all stages of their careers, and sponsors can certainly play a big part in this,” she says.

Tania Cecconi, Executive Officer at CEOs for Gender Equity, says that this program is a first because it underscores the role of men in supporting women into leadership positions.

“It’s time for male leaders to start tapping women on the shoulder too. This program matches organisational and women’s aspirations to close the gender gap at the top,” she said.

Andrew York, our Executive Manager, Community Engagement Services, says there is widespread evidence that show persistent and systemic barriers to women’s workforce participation and progression into senior leadership roles.

“Addressing these barriers to women’s leadership progression at an organisational level is an important lever to close Gender leadership gaps and retain strong female leaders on the pathway to senior roles,” he says.

Since its inception in 2017, five cohorts of women have completed the program, and Maija views the connections to these leaders as valuable to her own career.

“Having access to strong female leaders as role models, as well as a network of other aspiring leaders from diverse backgrounds will make a huge positive impact on my career outlook and my confidence to set my own path,” she says.

We’re fortunate to have Maija as part of our Vinnies team and we wish her all the best for the program.