The General Counsel for DELWP - a fancy title for lawyer – is accountable for all the legal advice provided in-house. That’s the role of Kirsty Douglas who is also the Executive Director of the Legal and Governance Division in Corporate Services.
“If flexibility means you miss out on a promotion, are given less challenging work or are stereotyped because you have chosen to work flexibly then that is an issue. As leaders we need be flexible ourselves and ensure that we think outside the square and make flexibility just the norm.”
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
History is written by the victors and most official histories are written from a male perspective with very little recognition of the role and achievements of women. Every opportunity to remedy this needs to be embraced by men and women. Recognising that women achieve great things but often in different fields to men and value different things. We are different but equal and our skills sets are complementary. Basically, build respect for the role that women play in our community. They keep it ticking along.
Have you experienced any roadblocks in your career path due to your gender?
I had just had my first baby when I started as what was then an “articled clerk”. No allowance was made for my caring responsibilities and I was told that I was not ambitious enough or dedicated enough because I left each evening at a certain time to pick up my daughter from childcare. As a result, the firm said they would not be keeping me on. However, there were two partners in particular who both had young families and they advocated for me - the partnership changed its mind, and I remained with the firm. The only other drawback, I think, has stemmed from wanting to work part-time after having my children. I could not do this if I also wanted to advance my career.
How do you see your role in helping to address imbalances that still exist today?
As a senior executive in the public service who also happens to be a woman, it is up to me to lead by example and ensure that I am inclusive and respectful of everyone and celebrate their differences. Unconscious bias and relying on stereotypes rather than taking the time to get to know and understand individuals and see things from their perspective are real barriers to equality. Celebrate diversity.
How important is being able to work flexibly at DELWP in advancing the gender balance?
I think flexibility is very important in advancing gender equality, but it is only one factor. If flexibility means you miss out on a promotion, are given less challenging work or are stereotyped because you have chosen to work flexibly then that is an issue. As leaders we need be flexible ourselves and ensure that we think outside the square and make flexibility just the norm.
Finally, tell us a bit more about your role
I feel very privileged to be in a job that I love. It is stimulating, challenging and very satisfying. Broadly speaking the functions are focused on Governance, Legislation and Legal Advice. Under the governance theme is risk management including the internal audit function and the Secretariat for the DELWP Risk and Audit Committee. Portfolio governance also comes in here and includes increased emphasis on integrity. Managing the DELWP portfolio insurances, responsibility for protected disclosures and FOI also sits within LGD (Legal and Governance Division). Not to mention legal advice, prosecutions and last, but definitely not least, managing the DELWP portfolio legislation program.
Page last updated: 08/03/19