In attempt to address the lack of female representation in the higher echelons of the union movement, a new mentorship program pairs experienced women with younger workers.
IEU is participating in the new Unions NSW program, with two organisers mentoring younger women, and three IEU staff being mentored by women from other unions.
Experienced organisers Pam Smith and Ann-Maree McEwan are providing mentorship to Nicole Mason from the NSW Nurses and Midwives Association and Emma Hagan (pictured) from the NSW Police Association respectively.
IEU Organiser Lubna Haddad is spending time with an AMWU officer, Lee Cunningham is working with TWU and Amanda Hioe with Unions NSW.
Ann-Maree and Pam are active members of the Unions NSW Women’s Committee, and Pam Is IEU Women’s Convenor. Ann-Maree said she volunteered because women now made up the majority of union membership, but leadership roles remained male dominated.
“Unions NSW wanted to build links among women members and assist career development, to fill in those gaps where women are not well represented,” Ann-Maree said.
“I think we were paired because I have worked as a solicitor and have worked with the police quite closely in the past,” she said.
Ann-Maree has been at the IEU since 2002, but has worked as a solicitor in a regional town, as well as for the Department of Education and the Catholic Education Office.
Emma has worked at the Police Association for 11 years in the legal section.
She assists police officers with industrial and medical entitlements, pensions and medical discharge issues and supervises the clerical team.
She said she was interested in seeing more of the big picture of the union movement, and learning how other unions are structured and how they manage campaigns.
“Working in the legal area you can become quite focussed. It’s good for me to be able to take back some information to others in my team as well.
“I’ve noticed that everyone at the IEU is very passionate about what they do, as are people at the Police Association. That’s how it should be in the union movement.”
The mentorships last for 12 months, although Emma’s will be six months, due to her forthcoming maternity leave.
“I’m grateful to have this opportunity,” she said.