Each month we highlight one of our Working Group leaders doing incredible things. This month we’re honored to feature an interview with Joy Marrocco.
How did you start your journey into the empowerment work you’re doing now?
I discovered there was an equity imbalance over time. When I landed my first management role, I was 20 years old. I was constantly told I didn’t have enough experience to be a manager and because of that, I wouldn’t be able to empathize with my team. I was also the subject of many jokes, as “blonde jokes” were very popular at the time. I accepted that this was just the way it was.
That fueled my fire to do my job well. I wanted to prove that I had just as much right to be there as anyone else. Twenty years later, I can look back and say, “All of those things I did in an effort to prove that I deserved to be at the table were things I never should have had to do in the first place.
How does that motivate you today?
I don’t want anyone else to ever feel that way. I used to attend women’s events, and one of the main problems I noted there was that many of the discussions at those events were positioned around men versus women. There was no rallying cry that working together we could drive social change. At the time, I didn’t have children, and a lot of these events focused on children and returning to the workforce. I had a hard time understanding how big of an issue that was until I had three children of my own, each of which brought a challenging return to work experience for me. Every time I had a baby, my career completely changed.
I saw in those transitions and my role at work, however, that I had a talent for getting people to talk about difficult subjects in a constructive way and I saw the potential for that to change all these conversations.
In your career, you’ve focused a lot on driving lasting systemic change and using your own super powers of brokering, negotiating, and listening to get people on board. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
I’ve learned a big lesson: stories resonate with people, and they are what drive change. When people hear a good story, they get on board with you.
When you think about what the world could look like and you think about your three children, what kind of world do you want them to be growing up in?
I want my children to grow up in a world where their normal is normal. Accepting people who live their life however they want to. I remember when I was young, divorce was not really accepted. But today, many people grow up in homes where the parents are divorced. I hope we continue to see greater acceptance of people and their situations.
I don't want my children to have to fight against issues that I've had to fight against. That is just wasted effort.
What would you say is the greatest challenge that you overcame in your career?
The greatest challenge I overcame in my career, I think, is trusting others to deliver.
There are so many occasions for all of us when it would be easier just to do something else, and to not take advantage of a teachable moment. And you see it with kids, you can tell them so many times, "If you keep doing that, you're going to fall, and you're going to hurt yourself.” And then I just stopped saying it at some point, and my husband said, "What are you doing? They're going to hurt themselves." And I respond with, "I know. But they'll only do it once." So they do sometimes hurt themselves and learn not to do it again.
If someone tells you a story that resonates with you, and you realize there's something in your behavior and how that behavior is impacting someone else, you can have a quiet little chat with yourself, and you can change that behavior. You don't have to be publicly shamed and get into a debate about it. It's the same thing.
What's the one piece of advice you would impart to a younger version of yourself? Or if women out there were reading your blog, what's the one thing you want them to take away?
Just to do one thing. Pick one thing and get started. Just pick one thing that you think, "That's not right; I think I can do that better." Just pick one thing and get started.
So tell me about your Working Group. What’s your mission?
My Working Group is called Corporate Equality, and our mission is to leverage the relationships I’ve built with the largest corporations in Australia, called “The Big Five,” to drive culture change toward gender equality. Collectively they touch every single Australian household at least once. That is a huge opportunity to tackle key issues around gender equality in the workplace, like fair pay, parental leave, and pathways to promotion. But also, how to leverage those partnerships and corporate relationships to help the communities across the country where they live and serve. I want to help communities thrive, whether you’re a woman in a rural farm or in the boardroom.
When you think about your Working Group, what would you like your legacy to be?
That my Working Group, over time, would grow into being a sustainable Working Group that is around many years after I've gone, still delivering great outcomes to communities and to the culture as a whole. To outlast me.