MCRI Andrea Frigo

Hello Andrea, it's lovely to speak with you. As the Director of People and Culture at Murdoch Children's Research Institute (MCRI), what excites you most about this role?

What excites me is fostering a culture of empowerment, impact, and support within my team so that, as a collective, they can enable and empower our people across MCRI and VCGS to have the greatest impact. Nothing makes me prouder than hearing the positive impact of our work on our people across MCRI and VCGS. When we hear stories of how our work has positively influenced someone's career trajectory or personal growth, we know we are truly making a difference.

Our institute has just been awarded the Science in Australia Gender Equity (SAGE) bronze award. Please tell us about our process to achieve this and what the award means for the institute.

Achieving the SAGE Bronze Award recognises MCRI's efforts to drive organisational progress towards equity, diversity, and inclusion.

Over two and a half years, a Self-Assessment Team of 53 individuals from across MCRI volunteered their time, skills, and expertise to support data collection, analysis, and action planning that formed the basis of MCRI's SAGE Application.

We assessed five years of employee data sets, including qualitative data provided by over 1,110 people through surveys, interviews, focus groups, and the findings of various audits, to provide SAGE with an in-depth account of MCRI's strengths, gendered trends, and areas for improvement. This co-design process fostered a sense of ownership and dedication among our people to engage with and support actions moving forward.

Through the SAGE process, MCRI has been able to acknowledge and celebrate its current practices that promote gender equity, representation, progression, and success for all. This has allowed us to identify specific areas for improvement and create targeted actions to address them. This award positions us amongst our global peers in paediatric research and translational medicine.

How does our institute address the unique challenges faced by women in the research field?

MCRI's initiatives to address the unique challenges women face include the Maternity Leave Award, which provides financial support, recognition, and encouragement to women going on parental leave to continue pursuing their research whilst they are on or after they have returned from maternity leave.

Paid parental leave of 16 weeks is crucial for supporting new parents as they navigate the demands of work and parenting. Flexible Working and Purchased Leave are also key initiatives offered. These efforts not only support women but also contribute to MCRI's overall success and productivity. 

In what ways does our institute encourage professional development opportunities for women at all levels?

Our professional development programs target all individuals across MCRI and VCGS. Our initial leadership and mentoring programs focus on empowering early-to-mid-career researchers to take ownership of their careers.

Through our programs, we have seen more women putting their hand up to support the next generation of women. These programs provide valuable skills and knowledge and foster a supportive network.

By targeting our initiatives to empower women in STEM fields, we aim to address the gender disparity and create a more inclusive and supportive culture overall.

Beyond your role at MCRI, tell us more about yourself and what drives your commitment to gender equality and inclusivity.

Besides my work at MCRI and VCGS, I also prioritise gender equality and inclusivity by being a positive mentor for my nieces. I believe in showing them that they can break through glass ceilings and achieve anything they set their minds to.

I believe that we can achieve extraordinary things when we feel empowered and supported. I hope to instil in them a sense of limitless potential. I want them to know that there are no boundaries to what they can accomplish and that they can carve out their paths in life.

Lastly, please share any future plans regarding our SAGE accreditation.

MCRI is committed to diversity and inclusion, and we have a strong focus on intersectionality to ensure we achieve gender equity for all.

We know that words are not enough, and change is only possible through ongoing support and resources for initiatives that seek to address the challenges we face today.

We have developed a comprehensive 7-year plan of action that includes various initiatives. Some of the key focuses of this plan are embedding the values of equity and diversity in our policies, procedures, practices, and programs. We also provide our people with access to flexible working options. Additionally, we plan to strengthen our approach to career progression by implementing a career pathways and capability framework.

Our vision is to "foster the attraction, retention, progression, and empowerment of all to ensure significant impact and the health and fulfilment of our people."

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