Women's Month 2022: Team Member Highlight - Tina Della Vedova
Name: Tina Della Vedova
What is a career highlight that exemplified Female empowerment in the workplace?
A good example of camaraderie between female-presenting staff that I've experienced was following an incident of sexual harassment. I went to the union, and sadly the union took the seniority of the individual into account. This ultimately led to me being laid off, however due to my tenacity and refusal to accept what was wrong, I rallied a group of female-presenting colleagues that also dealt with similar situations. With a group being united against this individual's behaviour, the harassment could no longer be ignored - we refused to be silenced which led to the individual being released from the organization. We later discovered he had moved on to another location, so we informed the location so that other women wouldn’t suffer the same situation as we did.
Can you share a time when you experienced discrimination in the workplace?
I've experienced a few, but one comes immediately to mind.
I used to run a car rental location, and surprisingly the discrimination came from a customer. When he arrived at our location, I tried to engage him and he ignored me and began talking to one of my male employees. Something came up where he needed to speak to the manager however, I was the manager on duty. He became increasingly frustrated with me as a result, because in his mind, he wanted to speak only to a male manager. Throughout the conflict, he continued to demand that a male serve him and not me. Eventually, we worked through the situation and I was able to meet his needs.
He ended up writing a letter to the head office complaining about the situation, and following a month-long escalation with head office, he returned; luckily this time the interaction went better than his initial visit. Following the escalation and the feedback from Head Office that "the customer is always right", I received a written apology and a letter from the head office explaining that the customer himself was at fault.
While this was a bizarre and uncomfortable situation, I was strong enough to not just stick through this discrimination, but I was also tenacious enough to stand up for myself and my other female-presenting individuals. This led to change across all locations in regards to discrimination and how it was handled across the organization.
What does it mean to you to be a female-presenting individual in our modern workplace?
We've certainly come a long way, but the reality is that women are still discriminated against. While women do hold more positions of authority, we have a responsibility to speak out when things aren't right or there is an opportunity to close the gender equality gap. Integrity and tenacity truly are the best tools in our toolbox against discrimination in the modern workplace, I'm grateful to be a part of helping pave the way for the modern workplace where women can be taken seriously and heard when they have concerns.
Any advice for younger female-presenting individuals entering today’s workforce?
Find yourself a really good mentor and coach inside your organization, if possible. If not in the organization, look outside to find someone who can coach and mentor you. They are amazing for helping grow, empower and learn from!