Home Blog Community July 2019 My career growth: fondue, chocolate and human rights


My career growth: fondue, chocolate and human rights

by Alicia Mathews

Senior Specialist

Throughout my career I have sought out roles where social justice and equality are at the heart of what I do.

I have been privileged to work as Diversity and Inclusion Manager at Telstra for the last 6 years, where I manage projects that are all about building an inclusive and respectful workplace to ensure everyone has equal access to a great career here.

I’ve always been someone who is curious about what is happening across the globe, so when the opportunity came up to intern at the United Nations and work on global issues, I grabbed it.

When I approached my leader with the proposal to take a career break for 3 months (unpaid leave) to take on this internship, I was not sure what to expect.

However, my leader and team were so supportive of me growing my skills by working in a global matrixed environment, with governments, trade unions and not for profit organisations. They could also see the benefits this opportunity would give me in my current role.

So at the start of this year, I joined the International Labour Organisation in the Gender, Equality and Diversity team at the United Nations. Leaving my husband and toy poodle dog behind, I packed my warmest winter clothes and relocated to Geneva, Switzerland.

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Working at the United Nations was an experience I'll never forget

My projects focussed on how to improve disability and accessibility in workplaces through collaboration with governments, private sector and employee organisations.

My highlight was working with the Global Business and Disability Network to produce a webinar about affirmative recruitment practices for people with disability, with speakers joining from Italy, Australia and France.

I would call this experience an opportunity for career growth not a career break, as I grew personally and professionally during the 3 months I was there. It also gave me the chance to eat Swiss Chocolate every day for 3 months!

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Standing outside the United Nations in Geneva

I have returned to work with a greater knowledge of the global context of workplace inclusion and full of ideas to deliver strategies and programs for a global audience. From my experience in Geneva, I saw that private sector, government and NGOs are all tackling similar diversity and inclusion workplace challenges. Although we still have more work to do, it was great to see that Telstra’s diversity programs, like All Roles Flex, Family and Domestic Violence support and diversity recruitment support is in line with best practice globally.

I don’t think I would have been able to achieve so much without the support of my team and Telstra’s All Roles Flex and career break policy.  

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