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Supporting equality on International Women’s Day


Story by Samantha Robin

On International Women’s Day, 8 March, we celebrate all the women who contribute to making our health service what it is.

With more than 3000 women working throughout our health service in various areas, we would like to take this opportunity to recognise the excellent work they do.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Each for Equal, promoting the role each of us have to play in supporting gender equality in society.

When it comes to promoting equality for women in the workforce, who better to pave the way than our newly appointed Chief Executive, Sue Williams.

She said part of her role as Chief Executive was to train others, particularly other women, to take on future leadership roles.

“I used to get really upset when people would headhunt and pinch all of my staff but now I actually feel flattered because it means I am doing something right. I think one of my responsibilities is to make sure I train up future successors. I’m pretty proud of some of the people who I have worked with in the past who have gone on to do really good things and take on important leadership roles,” Ms Williams said.

On balancing work and home life as a woman and mother-of-two, she said it was a constant struggle.

“Balancing work and family is hard, especially with young children, and I think early on in my career my family were the ones who compromised. But as I’ve gotten older, I have realised just how important it is to have a balance between work and home life. You are much happier and more productive if you can do that,” she said.

“I am very careful to make sure women with young families who work for me are able to maintain that balance because you don’t get those years back with your family. As a leader, it is something that is really important to me.
I’ve had women job share director of nursing roles, I’ve had women job share chief executive roles, it is challenging but it can work with the right people in the role. The key to a good job sharing partnership is good communication.

“There are lots of opportunities to help women into senior leadership positions, you just need to think flexibly about how you achieve that. I am keen to see more women at Cabrini taking on leadership roles and I will certainly work with them to help them get there.”

On taking up Cabrini’s top job, Ms Williams likened it to coming home – a place where she has worked, had children and is in her local neighbourhood; a place she has a connection with both personally and professionally.

“I had both of my children at Cabrini and I worked here as a nurse in the Intensive Care Unit in the early 1990s.
Cabrini Malvern is my local hospital, so I have a vested interest in making it work,” she said.

“About five years ago, my son asked me what my dream job would be and I said chief executive of Cabrini. So I feel like it has finally come to fruition, and what a great opportunity it is to lead such an iconic organisation.”

Ms Williams said she couldn’t think of anywhere else she would rather be working at this point in her life.

“There is something special about Cabrini, compared with every other organisation I have worked. There is a warmth and kindness when you walk into the hospital that I have never experienced anywhere before and I can only attribute it to our Catholic heritage and our mission. It is what makes us unique and it is what our staff and patients remember.”