Your Brilliant Career Podcast

The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career

This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.

One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.

Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

My guest is Angela Priestley. Angela is the Founding Editor of Women's Agenda, and now heads up the publication's parent company Agenda Media. She's a journalist, and editor turned media entrepreneur and business owner.

In addition to being a media owner and a brilliant journalist - I can always tell if Angela has written a particular story - Angela is also a mum to three young children.

In today's interview, we are going to chat about the gender pay gap, issues that limit women in the workplace, careers and motherhood, and so much more. So, let's dive in!

Links we talked about on the podcast include:

RISE Accelerate program: https://www.yourbrilliantcareer.com.au/rise-accelerate

Angela Priestley

How many more women? Exposing how the law silences women.

Free guide - How to make your value more visible at work: https://www.yourbrilliantcareer.com.au/make-your-value-visible

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Your transcript

Today Angela Priestley is joining us on the podcast. Angela is the Founding Editor of Women's Agenda, and now heads up the publication's parent company Agenda Media. She's a journalist, and editor turned media entrepreneur and business owner.

Now, if you don’t know Women’s Agenda, jump on and sign up for the newsletter. It is a great news feed that I think gives us the perspective that can be missing from mainstream media.

It’s interesting, and I was saying this to Angela before we pressed record, that I see my 20-year-old son, who is incredibly well-informed about politics, climate change, and most news-breaking stories – he, like a lot of his contemporaries, actively seek out a broader spectrum of news sources.

He doesn’t want to rely on one media because of the bias, the sensationalism – they want to figure out their own points of view, which can only be accomplished by reading different news sources. I love that, and Women’s agenda helps me, and many others, get that broader perspective.

In addition to being a media owner and a brilliant journalist, I can always tell if Angela has written a particular story, Angela is also a mum to three young children.

We have known each other for several years – which is kind of hard to believe. She kindly wrote the forward in my book Woman of Influence and spoke at my book launch all the way back in 2016. Since then, I have written quite a few articles for Women’s Agenda over those years.

I won’t talk further because you’re about to meet her, and we are going to chat about the gender pay gap, issues that limit women in the workplace, careers and motherhood, and so much more. So, let’s dive in.

Gillian Fox: Angela, welcome to the podcast. It is such a pleasure to have you here today.

Angela Priestley: Thank you so much for having me.

Gillian Fox: I thought a great place for us to start is to tell us about Women's Agenda and what inspired you to buy it.

Angela Priestley: Sure. Okay, so Women's Agenda is... So we're a daily news publication. We cover areas across politics, business, leadership, entrepreneurship, climate, technology, all those sorts of things. So, we are independent. We're a small team now. There's six of us. And basically, every day, we put out a newsletter with six to eight stories and publish our perspective on the news and as well as our own key stories and interviews within that as well. Women's Agenda is part of a broader business that I founded with Tarla Lambert, my co-founder. And so under the banner of Agenda Media and within that, we do various things. Well, we do podcasts. We do women's health news. We do a number of other versions of Women's Agenda that are industry specific such as around STEM and agriculture.

And we basically support all this and fund the journalism, because journalism, it's not the easiest business to be in. I tell people it's not the first place you'd think of to try and make your life's money. Certainly not unless you're... But so we fund that journalism through various content marketing initiatives. We make podcasts for clients. We do partner content series and round tables and awards program and various events and things like that to make it all happen.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, well, it's brilliant and I've subscribed to it for many years now and I've absolutely loved it. And I really love how you started this business because some people start businesses and they'll recall these stories around, "It started on the dining room table," or, "It started in the garage", but for you, it started in your bed, didn't it?

Angela Priestley: Yeah. It doesn't always sound great, but it did. It did. Because you did ask me why I bought it, so I should say, so Women's Agenda was launched over a decade ago with a Melbourne-based publisher, Private Media, which is a great independent publisher that I respect and admire in story their publications to this day. And we'd been running for a couple of years and I went on parental leave for the second time and it was starting to become clear that Women's Agenda wouldn't work in that larger publishing structure at the time. And then the owner of the business there, he approached me, that was Eric Beecher. He approached me after a few weeks just suggesting the idea of, "Would you be interested in a management buyout?" and I said yes. And we negotiated that through and made it happen.

But at the time, I guess where the bed part of it comes in is that I did have a three-week-old baby and I then had another few weeks before I did need to start publishing it by myself. And we didn't have any money in the publication. I needed to see the existing advertising obligations. And I was working around a newborn and an older toddler and basically just trying to keep it publishing. And that was my first thing at the time. I was like, "I've just got to keep it publishing. We do a daily newsletter. We do stories. We do have contributors, so if I can just keep this publishing for six months or so, then I think I can work out the details later on," which I guess happened. Yes.

Gillian Fox: Which is probably the only way to think about it at that point in your life. But then you had another child, so you've got three kids and you managed to get this addition out every day by early afternoon. What are your strategies for pulling that off? Because I imagine life is very busy on the home front.

Angela Priestley: It is. So the strategies are... So we have a team now, so I guess that's the first thing. And I wouldn't say that I'm certainly not solely responsible for putting it out every day, so I've got Tarla with me, I've got our other team, Madeline and Jessie and Brianna and Allie as well. And so everyone pitches in, puts it together. And we are doing a lot more now than we were doing back then when I was doing it in between breastfeeding and trying to get a bit of sleep.

So we start sharing ideas really early around 8:30 in the morning. We like to have a bit of a news meeting, whether that is virtual or whether we are chatting on Slack. But by that point, everyone kind of knows what's going on and I certainly like to be across what's going on for that day. I would have read the papers. I would have gone through as much as I could from the night before as well. And so I like to think that we are across the news at that point and then we'll start determining the stories. We'll allocate stories. We'll look at what we've got sitting there from contributors and we'll start to publish and write and edit and make it all happen.

There's not a huge amount of forward planning in terms of what we do. We are very much in the moment and on the day. And that can be problematic because you do see... If bigger stories are happening, if breaking stories are happening, we want to go and be on top of that. And then other things then can slip. So, it's difficult in terms of your productivity to plan really well, but at the same time it means that we're always... I guess we always just try to be on. And then after that, we do find that, after publishing, we try to do some of the client work that we've got on. We try to do meetings. We try to do some strategy work as well if we're coming up with different ideas for various specials or features or events or something.

But if you're in that zone of really publishing for five or so hours straight, it can actually be quite exhausting. I think we've only got a special amount of hours each day. You want to think that you can work for a full eight hours, but you're not necessarily at your best over that full eight hours. So, I know that certainly in my experience, I've seen how morning, if I'm on news desk and I'm not always on news desk, so that's fine, so I get a break now and I can go and do other things or other parts of our business at that point, but you need to be on and get to lunch and just you're exhausted after that.

Gillian Fox: Oh, I know. You start really early because if I ever want to catch you, Angela, I can send an email at 5:30 and you come straight back to me.

Angela Priestley: That's the sad reality of life, isn't it? I hope that will change in the future, but at the moment, people give you that advice, "Just get up an hour earlier."

It's like, "I can't wait for the day that I don't get up an hour earlier or two hours earlier", but we're at that point we want to get on top of things earlier. But also if you've got kids and you want to have a little bit of quiet space before they wake up, then the reality is, yeah, you end up getting up at 4:30, at 5:00, whatever it is.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, for that-

Angela Priestley: But I'm certainly not ... I might just say I'm not on that productivity thing of, "Do your 10 different things as soon as you wake up”.

Gillian Fox: Now you are fiercely committed to helping women get heard on important issues. What issues frustrated you the most in 2022?

Angela Priestley: So, a lot of issues have frustrated me, I might say. I think we've seen some pretty poor media coverage of things like the trial of Bruce Lehrmann. Obviously, those juror misconduct and that trial has since ... It won't be going ahead that retrial and the situation around Brittany Higgins. It's frustrating to see, I guess, those issues and how they can be covered by certain segments of the media. And also frustrating to see how it can come up across social media as well and some of the trolling and the comments that come along with a story like that. And we very much see it firsthand and it goes ... There are so many circumstances where we see how women are getting silenced and the way the court system can be used as well around women. And there's a fantastic book on this that I encourage people to go and read.

So that's been frustrating. I think, when I say frustrating, I think how some parts of the media report those sorts of stories, that's only one example, but also the social media and the response that such stories can have, just the absolute vitriol that can emerge from stories that when people like to, and I say people won't care about any other news issue, but then when it comes to say Amber Heard or when it comes to Brittany Higgins, they have so much suddenly to say, when they couldn't care less for other major events or stories happening elsewhere. But all of a sudden, they need to get that heard and question the credibility and various other things of women like that.

So that's one issue, but then I might say climate change has been a huge frustration for me and I'll say, because I think you mentioned as a women's issue and climate change, I very much see as a gender issue in terms of the impacts internationally. And now we're starting to see the gender impacts domestically here as well when we talk about, say, an uptick in domestic violence following a climate-related disaster or internationally when you can see the increase in things like forced marriage or gender-based violence or girls losing access to education that occurs following major disasters.

So, it's been a frustration for me because I don't think we're talking about that enough. I don't think we are making that link between climate change and gender equality as much as we should be and the need for a real gendered response and a response that really considers the impact of how the climate is changing and the impact that it's having on women and girls in terms of our response to disasters and also in terms of the adaption methods that we need to take on and then transition and how we'll move to a greener economy and just making sure that women and girls don't miss out on those opportunities like we've seen, say happen with STEM. We're at this point where we can try to mitigate against some of those things, but I'm not necessarily sure that we will.

And it frustrated me, because back at International Women's Day, I felt like that issue really got hijacked by other more corporate ideas of what International Women's Day should be when actually the UN women-themed was very much centered around climate change.

Gillian Fox: Why do you think the media has such a hesitancy to represent the truth around these issues?

Angela Priestley: So, I might say with the climate piece, I don't necessarily think it's the media. I know climate stories are not that. You don't necessarily want to continuously read about the negative things that are going to affect us due to climate and I understand that. That's really tough going and it's not necessarily what we want to do when we wake up in the morning and start scrolling our news feeds, is get the latest update on everything that's going to happen in the future that can be seriously detrimental. What has happened is I feel that there's a lot around events or around... I talked to events, say, around International Women's Day as well because I just felt like it was an issue that maybe we could have heard a little bit more on at the time and maybe that there's a place to bring up these issues in different spaces as well that might not seem like a natural fit, but there is that... You could in many ways claim that and I've seen this claim before that, in a way, every story is a climate story. It is the story of our time and so much else will link into climate and particularly if we're talking about. So we know that climate change exacerbates existing inequalities and that's not just on gender, that's all forms of inequality that it does exacerbate inequality. And so that really is so much of the story of our time, because frankly... Obviously, we're never at a point of equality anyway, so to think that we're just exacerbating those existing ones is, "How can we not be talking about it more so than we are now?"

Gillian Fox: Absolutely. Absolutely, which brings me to the gender pay gap, which is currently 22.8%. Now, you recently reported on the introduction of the Albanese government's pay secrecy ban, which is a plan to improve transparency. It sounds like a great plan to me and reduce the risk of gender discrimination. Do you think this is going to help us? What's your view here? Because it is quite new, it's been trialled in other countries to some success. What are your thoughts, Angela?

Angela Priestley: I do think it will help us definitely. I think the first... I know that if I think back in my career and I think the first time I found out that somebody in exactly the same position as me and that somebody being a man, as soon as I went and told my superior that I knew that this person was earning, I think it was around 10% more than me, which for what I was earning was actually quite a lot at the time, so to hear that, as soon as I said that, I pretty much got my pay adjusted within about 48 hours of saying that. And so we know, as soon as you highlight those discrepancies, especially when it comes for like-for-like roles that you do, you get the pay rises.

So, I think, secrecy does take that part of it out of the equation. So, it does make it a little bit easier for those who are underpaid, for those who are traditionally paid less than others to try and actually work to fight back and get what they're worth. What do you think, Gillian? I'm actually interested to hear your ideas around this as well.

Gillian Fox: I think it's a fabulous idea. I had an email, funny enough, this morning from a program participant who said, "Gillian, I just wanted to let you know I've got a 20% pay increase" and it's just blown me away and I'm so happy. But there's a part of me that thinks, "I've just got it because they're trying to close the pay gap". And that might be true, but hooray, it's a great outcome for her. Do you know what I mean? You don't want to take away that glorious moment. I think companies are becoming more accountable and I think this will make them so much more accountable. I would be fascinated, Angela, even at partnership level at some of the big consultancy firms, I imagine there's some big discrepancies in salary, in pockets that we didn't even know. What else are we doing? Let's give something new a try. I think it's a positive initiative.

Angela Priestley: Well, yeah, exactly. And there's really good evidence internationally to show the difference that the banning secrecy actually has. I know in the US, I'm seeing various parts where states actually often prohibit or have prohibit pay secrecy clauses. So there's research that shows that in those states, that women's wages are 4 to 12% higher, so that has to be a win. There's research out of Canada as well that showed that their pay secrecy law has reduced the gender pay gap between men and women by 20 to 40%...

Gillian Fox: I've read that.

Angela Priestley: ... which is a quite high bracket range there, but the note here is that that depends on which data is analysed, but still 20%, I think we'd take a reduction of 20% anytime. And also plenty of other studies across the UK and Denmark as well which shows that pay transparency can make a really dramatic difference. And I think that's the thing that we need here. We need a dramatic difference because we've been tinkering around the edges. We have so much of the data at an organisational level, at an overall macro level regarding the pay gap and we've got that thanks to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency that's obviously done excellent research across this and is able to pull out world-leading stats from over the past few years, so we can actually benchmark against them that covers, I think, the majority of Australian employees now.

So, we've got the stats and we've also seen all the organisations with their targets and various things to close their pay gaps and it hasn't happened fast enough. So here we have something that I think really puts power in an individual's hand and enables individuals to really start benchmarking their own pay and to think about what other people in their organisation are earning and what other people are earning in terms of the same position as theirs. And to really use that as a way to try and narrow these gaps.

Gillian Fox: I was reading one of the McKinsey's surveys the Women at Work, I think it came out in October, and it was confirming that women are on the move in the marketplace more than ever. I think it's just been such a time of change. So they're switching roles at the highest rates we've ever seen. And even a lot of the ambitious young women that we work with through our programs are prepared to do the same. And I think one of the reasons that women are stepping away is for the intolerance around things like pay gap, but they do still experience these microaggressions. And those microaggressions might be, I don't know, having their judgment questioned or if they’re senior, being mistaken for someone more junior.

And I think this year, post-pandemic, things settling down, has been a very interesting year for women to look at companies and getting that clarity around the type of company and work that they want. And inclusion, flexibility, fairness, wellbeing, diversity, I think they're really, really important, and hence we’re seeing moves, people on the move.

Angela Priestley: Yeah, yeah and they're having the opportunity to make that move as well. And I know that whenever ... Every couple of years we do a survey of around 20,000 women or so and we ask ... Sorry, we do a survey of around 2,000 or 3,000 women or so and we ask about their key ambitions for the next two years ahead. And every time, earning more pay has come up as the leading ambition. So it does show that there will be that push to get everything else, but then at the same time, pay is always on the minds of women. We want to think that it's not or we try to... There's all these stereotypes about the fact that that's not what drives women, but at the end of the day, we need to earn a good salary. We need to support our families. We need to look after ourselves. We need to be thinking about our retirement as well and pay really, really matters.

I think we've got more scope now. We see the evidence now around how, and this isn't just women, this is everyone really who will reject having to go to an office, sort of a specific location if it's knowledge-based work or if it is work that can be done at home where people will specifically look now for remote roles and we're seeing that. And I think one of the best changes there has been that that's not really just women anymore. We see that men are seeking out those opportunities to work from home or work remotely or to at least work part of their week remotely and access that flexibility, so it's taken it outside of being a thing of what working mums wanted, perhaps which where it may have been in the past.

At the same time, I think that there is issues and there is some evidence around this, but I think you could also speak anecdotally to this as well. If you're in the CBD, if you do go into a large office building and you look around the cafe of that large office building, I guarantee it will be majority filled by men. And so there is that sense of, "Well, what happens if there is this real gender split in who is going to the office and who is actually staying at home", because we don't want to think it can matter, but it will matter. It will matter, I think, when it comes to promotions and when it comes to building relationships and when it comes to that manager making that decision between, "Oh, here's the virtual worker and I've got this person, but this person actually we had a drink that time and I get along really well with them. And so yeah, I think I'm going to select them for the promotion". So, I think it does matter.

Gillian Fox: Visibility counts. Yeah, absolutely.

Angela Priestley: Visibility counts. But it's that sense of who gets to have that visibility and who gets to have that access. And if everyone's virtually, does it mean it probably counts less then. Maybe it's more about making that visibility on those virtual meetings or something. But if a certain part of those workplaces are the people sitting in the offices and putting in that bums on seat time, not necessarily any better at their work and not necessarily any more productive, what kind of impact that may have.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, it's an interesting thought, Angela. It is interesting. We'll have to see how that plays out for us all.

Angela Priestley: I heard from a male CEO recently who was speaking about, and has a really fast-growing business, heading towards thousands of employees and they have an office and he says, "The office is there if people want to go to it, but I never go to the office and I make a point of never going to the office because I don't want people to be unfairly disadvantaged just because they'd happen to be able to go to the office", and I thought that was really interesting. So you don't get access to the CEO just by going to the office. You get the same amount of access as everyone else.

Gillian Fox: You have a great team, Angela, at Women's Agenda. And whenever I'm at the awards or when I see all you guys in action, you have such a lovely camaraderie. The way you support each other is quite beautiful actually. How do you describe your leadership style?

Angela Priestley: So my style is, it's so funny, it's that idea of not really thinking of yourself as a leader or even as a manager or just of this trying to just make it work, especially in terms of running a small business and especially a business of this type where it's so up in the air at any time, you never know what's going to happen next and you never know what projects are going to come in or what projects are not going to come in and how you're going to have to scramble to find revenue in other ways. So I think people would probably describe my leadership as maybe... So it can be chaotic, it can be all over the place, but I think in a gentle way, I always try to...

When I know that I always treat people well in our team and I really strive to do that and make sure that that is the key priority because I also know that we have incredible talent in our team. We've been lucky enough to be able to attract that talent. We've also worked really hard in getting those people in our team. And so I like to think that the way we then support our team, especially again in a small business because there are bigger businesses out there that can be more appealing to young women, especially when they think about the opportunities and when they think about where their career could head with those bigger organisations, but I certainly like to think that we go out of our way to provide as much opportunity as possible to young women especially.

And part of that is in... I always know that there's a lot of things that I'm not particularly great at and there's a lot of things that I know that other people are better at, so I'd never assume for a minute that someone who is 22 can't do something 10 times better than I can because in many ways they can or they can learn it and they will, and they will enjoy having the opportunity to learn it and they can take ownership of that and that's amazing. I hope to think that's part of our leadership. I can't think of an eloquent way to really put it, but I know for Tarla and I that we really hope that we are supporting our team as much as we can.

And we know that they'll likely one day leave and that's fine and they'll go somewhere else, but it's that whole thing about just make sure they have a really great experience as part of your business, because later on, they might be starting businesses or they might be working with people who become your clients or they will just generally be great connections and there'll be friendships and things and to learn later on from everyone in our team as well. So, I think that's it. And I might say another piece to that, because I've talked a lot about young women, it's not to say that we only hire young women, not like that at all. We have hired a lot of people fresh out of university. I think that's what might be a better way to put it.

And one thing with that is that we don't necessarily look for set degrees, we don't look for set qualifications or experience or anything like that, rather we look for something else almost like an entrepreneurial spirit or something else where we can see that people are passionate about the issues that we cover, that they're interested in the news and engaged, that they can write and that they can learn quickly on new things and new social media or new tools or whatever it is. So, that's what we look for and we don't look for the 10 different internships or anything like that that they may have done in the past, but rather what's the potential that they have and that they can bring into the future.

Gillian Fox: I know you're a media owner and entrepreneur, but you're also a journalist and a very good journalist. Who do you love to interview? Who are your favourite people to interview and why?

Angela Priestley: Okay, so I won't name any individuals, but I might say my favourite, what's it? Is it a genre or type of people? But we have spoken a lot about entrepreneurship and business and so I do love speaking to founders. I love speaking with people who have a really great idea, especially women because in the startups and entrepreneurs for women, they're so often centered around an idea or an experience or something that they've dealt with themselves and they're like, "Hey, there must be a better reason for this. There must be a better solution for this. I'm going to come up with that and I'm going to build a business around that and I'm going to go and solve this key issue that is impacting so many people".

So, I love interviewing people around that, entrepreneurs and founders. Not necessarily a serial entrepreneur, the person who's just doing over and over again and raising money and coming up with the latest crypto idea or something but people who are like, "Hey, look at the care economy here, look at this piece of it. I know about this piece of it because I've got a child with a disability", or, "I've had the last two years supporting an older parent", or, "I've worked in as a nurse", or, "I've worked in childcare", whatever it is, "And I've seen this issue and I'm going to have a crack at it and I'm going to solve it". I love speaking to those people and learning about those ideas and hopefully elevating those ideas and working to support them and see them get more support as well.

Gillian Fox: Yeah, there's a lot of clever ideas, a lot of brilliance, brilliance. Who are some of the biggest influences in your life when it comes to supporting your career?

Angela Priestley: I've had a lot of support over the years. You know that I've worked with Marina Go. Obviously, you know Marina Go as well and so we initially launched Women's Agenda together. I mentioned Eric Beecher who was is one of the owners of Private Media and was instrumental in getting Women's Agenda happening and really enabling Marina and I to take it and build it into what we wanted at the time. The influencers also, I mentioned some of those founders that I love to interview. I think they are always influencing me as well and everyone that I interview, including you, Gillian, as well.

So I see so many. I do have that opportunity to talk to so many people. I would have interviewed thousands of women probably just in the past 10 years. So, I have so many opportunities to learn constantly and to see what they're doing and to get inspired and every now and again to ask a little question that may selfishly help me somewhere along the way. So there's been countless people to name, but I mentioned some of those direct influences there. And my co-founder Tarla as well that I'm just really grateful that we have the opportunity to work together. And from the outset, we are two very different people, but we've been able to form a really great friendship and really able to complement each other's skills in incredible ways which is so important in finding a co-founder.

And lucky, my family, I've got a great partner who is also a business owner and we work with each other's careers where he may step up at times or I may step up at times and we make that work around our three children to make sure that we actually have the capacity to take on that work because your time and the hours are very much limited when you have small children or when you have any children really. So definitely having that influence on me, seeing him as a business owner but also him as just a really involved and engaged father, has been really important too.

Gillian Fox: Most definitely. Well, I think you do a tremendous job just juggling it all and Women's Agenda is such a success story and I feel like it just goes from strength to strength every year, Angela, you know what I mean? It's a publication that just keeps evolving in the most beautiful way. And I feel that you give light to the issues that we need to hear more about. So, thank you for that and thank you for joining us today.

Angela Priestley: Thank you. And thank you for wrapping up our mission so well. That is exactly what it is about. So really grateful for the opportunity. And, Gillian, just congratulations on everything you are doing as well because you're the same way. I always see you doing new and interesting things and speaking to really wonderful people and obviously evolving the courses and the work that you offer as well, which is great to see.

Thank you for joining us today. You may have heard Angela reference a book early in our chat, but we didn’t leave you the details, so I want to share them with you now. The book Angela recommended is How Many More Women by Jennifer Roberts and Keina Yoshida.

The book examines the laws that silence women and explores the changes that we need to make to ensure greater fairness. It looks like an interesting read, and it is a strong recommendation of Angela’s, so I’m sure it is an interesting read and it’s available at all the major bookstores.