Empowering Women of Colour to Lead with Confidence and Impact

Program Overview

The Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program (WoC ELP), now in its second year, continues to empower Women of Colour in leadership roles. With a proven track record of success, this 4-month initiative running from August to November 2024 is specifically designed and delivered by Women of Colour for Women of Colour. The WoC ELP 2024 offers a unique blend of in-person workshops, personalised online executive coaching sessions, and networking opportunities, creating an intimate and exclusive learning environment.

For this year's program, 16 spots are available, with five reserved for members of the Victorian Public Service, reflecting our commitment to supporting Women of Colour in government roles. The WoC ELP aims to enhance participants' leadership skills, accelerate career growth, and enable them to create lasting impacts in their workplaces and communities. Women of Colour Australia acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

"Women of Colour are absolutely ready to lead with power and force and I am really pleased to be a part of it. I truly believe that you have to be representative of your communities if you want to be good leaders. I think that this leadership program is going to help so many of the businesses, of the Departments, of the groups that you come from to embed some real change.~ The Hon. Minister Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Women, Victoria.

Our Vision

A World of Equal Opportunity and Inclusive Leadership

 

The Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program (WoC ELP) envisions a world where Women of Colour have equal access to opportunities, enabling them to thrive in leadership roles across various sectors. We believe that by empowering Women of Colour with the necessary skills, knowledge, and support, we can foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace, which in turn leads to better decision-making, increased innovation, and stronger organisational performance.

 

This program is important because it addresses the unique challenges and barriers faced by Women of Colour in the workplace, such as systemic discrimination, unconscious bias, and a lack of representation at the leadership level. By providing participants with the tools to navigate these challenges and by creating a supportive network of peers and mentors, the WoC ELP plays a crucial role in promoting equity and inclusion in the professional world.

 

In addition, the program serves as a powerful platform for participants to develop their leadership skills, build confidence, and enhance their career prospects. By investing in the growth and success of Women of Colour, the WoC ELP contributes to a more just and equitable society, where everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential, regardless of race or gender.

WoC ELP launch 2023 group photo

Program Structure

Participants engage in five interconnected modules through in-person workshops. Between modules, participants benefit from personalised online executive coaching sessions to deepen their understanding of their leadership style, set specific goals, and gain valuable insights.

Module 1: Embracing Identity and Courageous Leadership

Description: Participants explore their cultural identities and personal strengths, building a foundation for courageous and authentic leadership.

Facilitator: Tasneem Chopra, OAM

Session dates, times, and venue
Dates: Tuesday, August 27 & Wednesday, August 28 2024
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Module 2: Cultivating Authentic Communication and Honouring Unique Styles

Description: Participants develop effective communication skills, fostering collaboration and honouring diverse perspectives and styles.

Facilitator: Winitha Bonney, OAM

Session dates, times, and venue
Dates: Monday, September 23 & Tuesday, September 24 2024
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Module 3: Activating the Power of Allyship and Building Support Networks

Description: Participants learn to cultivate supportive networks and leverage allyship to promote equity and inclusion.

Facilitator: Abiola Ajetomobi

Session dates, times, and venue
Dates: Tuesday, October 15 & Wednesday, October 16 2024
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Module 4: Navigating Adaptive Challenges and Leading Change

Description: Participants strengthen their resilience and adaptability to tackle complex challenges and lead change effectively.

Facilitator: Grace Ho

Session dates, times, and venue:
Dates: Thursday, October 24 & Friday, October 25 2024
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Module 5: Fostering Transformative Cultures and Promoting Inclusivity

Description: Participants draw inspiration from the Pasifika concept of Vā (‘the space between us') to create inclusive, diverse, and transformative workplace cultures.

Facilitator: Mahana Culture

Session dates, times, and venue:
Dates: Monday, November 11 & Tuesday, November 12 2024
Time: 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Executive Coaching

Between carefully selected modules, participants of the WoC ELP will engage in personalised online executive coaching sessions. These one-on-one interactions are designed to enhance self-awareness, deepen their understanding of their unique leadership style, and help them set specific, actionable goals for personal and professional growth. With expert guidance by experienced executive coach, Koon Lai, participants will gain valuable insights and develop strategies to excel as leaders in their respective fields, fostering transformative change and driving positive impacts.

Special Events

The Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program includes two key events to celebrate the participants' journey and achievements:

1. Launch Event: This event marks the beginning of the program and provides an opportunity for participants to meet their mentors, facilitators, and fellow participants.
Date: Monday, August 26 , 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000


2. Graduation Event: A celebratory ceremony to recognise the successful completion of the program and acknowledge the growth and accomplishments of the participants.
Date: Tuesday, November 12: 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Venue: Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000

Meet the Facilitators

The Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program is led by a team of experienced professionals with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in leadership development. Our facilitators include:

Tasneem Chopra OAM

Tasneem Chopra is an experienced Cross-Cultural Consultant and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) trainer helping businesses, not-for-profits and government understand and navigate diversity and inclusion using an intersectional lens.

Winitha Bonney OAM

Winitha Bonney OAM is a global expert in helping corporates build inclusive cultures and Australia's first and foremost Thought Leader in the advancement of People of Colour.

Abiola Ajetomobi

Abiola Ajetomobi is the Founding Director of Leading Impact, an Equity & Inclusion consulting agency whose vision is to create inclusive and equitable organisations and leaders with lived experience at the heart of its strategic intent and legacy.

Grace Ho

Grace Ho is an Executive Coach/Facilitator, and a People and Culture advisor with 20 years working across five continents. Grace's deep passion and expertise is accelerating the advancement of leaders from underrepresented backgrounds.

Mahana Culture

Mahana Culture's Vā, a Polynesian term for 'the space between us,' emphasises the significance of developing relationships and designing learning experiences that honour culture, connectedness, and individual ecosystems. 

Meet the Executive Coach

Koon Lai

Koon Lai is an executive coach with over two decades of leadership experience at one of Australia's largest global consulting firms. With a strong background in executive roles, she brings a wealth of real-life experience to support leaders through a holistic approach that combines practical insights with transformative coaching techniques.

She has made significant strides in advancing numerous multicultural leaders, helping them unlock their full potential and overcome systemic barriers. As a Malaysian-Chinese and a mother of three boys, Koon's clients value her whole person approach, which helps them develop authentic leadership skills both in their professional and personal lives.

Eligibility and Commitment

Applications open Monday 3 June 2024 and close midnight Monday 1 July 2024.

Applicants will be selected based on the following criteria.

Eligibility

Applicants must identify as Women of Colour including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and hold a mid-to-senior level management position in their organisation. Applicants must currently be living in Victoria.

Leadership Potential

Applicants should demonstrate strong leadership potential, including a track record of professional achievements, ability to inspire and motivate others, and commitment to personal and professional growth.

Alignment

Applicants should be able to articulate how the program aligns with their career goals and how they plan to apply the learnings to drive positive change in their organisations and communities.

Commitment to the Program

Applicants must be willing to commit the necessary time and effort to fully participate in the program and make meaningful contributions to their cohort.

Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Applicants should be passionate about promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in their organisations and communities, and be willing to serve as role models and champions for other Women of Colour.

Commitment to Safety of Self and Others

Applicants must respect everyone's unique experiences, maintain confidentiality, embrace inclusivity, and adhere to a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination, fostering a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment throughout the program.

Definitions:
Women - Transgender and cisgender, all those who experience or have experienced oppression as women, including non-binary and gender non-conforming people and all those who identify as women. Self-definition is at the discretion of the individual. Definition credit: wire.org.au

Women of Color / Colour - "Women of Color is not a biological designation. It is a solidarity definition. A commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized. It is a term that has a lot of power." Loretta Ross. Learn more here.

Why do we need a leadership program for Women of Colour?

Women are under-represented in leadership roles across all industries and in the broader community. Women of Colour also experience overlapping or intersecting disadvantages including gender bias, racism, language barriers and other forms of workplace discrimination that prevent them from fulfilling their leadership potential.

This places women at greater risk of long-term, compounding, and disproportionate social and economic disadvantage. It also locks women out of decision-making processes and forums that affect them. Women remain underrepresented in all key decision-making roles across almost all industries in the Australian workforce. When women do reach leadership positions they are concentrated in lower levels of management, even in industries with majority-women workforces.

With thanks to our Venue Sponsors

Frequently asked questions

Below you will find answers to commonly asked questions about the program structure, eligibility, and application process. If you have any additional questions or need further assistance, please don't hesitate to contact us at elp@womenofcolour.org.au.

What is the Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program (WoC ELP)?The WoC ELP is a 4-month initiative designed to empower and support Women of Colour in leadership roles through in-person workshops, personalised executive coaching sessions, and networking opportunities.

What makes the WoC ELP unique?
  • The WoC ELP Program stands out as it is delivered by Women of Colour Australia (WoCA), a not-for-profit organisation and registered charity dedicated to empowering Women of Colour in leadership roles.
  • WoCA's approach is grounded in research and evidence that emphasises the importance of contextualised leadership programs for Women of Colour, designed and delivered by Women of Colour.
  • By drawing on the lived experiences, insights, and expertise of Women of Colour, WoCA ensures that the program is tailored to meet the unique needs and challenges faced by Women of Colour in leadership positions.
  • This evidence-based approach enables WoCA to create a powerful and transformative learning experience that equips participants with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive as leaders in their respective fields.

Who is eligible to participate in the WoC ELP?
  • The program is open to Women of Colour including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women based in Victoria, Australia, who identify as women, including transgender and cisgender women, non-binary, and gender non-conforming individuals who experience or have experienced oppression as women. Self-definition is at the discretion of the individual. (Definition credit: wire.org.au)
  • Applicants must hold a mid-to-senior level management position in their organisation.
Selection Criteria:
Applicants will be selected based on the following criteria:
  • Leadership Potential: Demonstrating strong leadership potential, including a track record of professional achievements, ability to inspire and motivate others, and commitment to personal and professional growth.
  • Alignment: Able to articulate how the program aligns with their career goals and how they plan to apply the learnings to drive positive change in their organisations and communities.
  • Commitment to the Program: Willing to commit the necessary time and effort to fully participate in the program and make meaningful contributions to their cohort.
  • Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion: Passionate about promoting diversity and inclusion in their organisations and communities, and willing to serve as role models and champions for other Women of Colour.
  • Commitment to Safety of Self and Others: Respect everyone's unique experiences, maintain confidentiality, embrace inclusivity, and adhere to a zero-tolerance policy for harassment or discrimination, fostering a safe, supportive, and inclusive environment throughout the program.

Who forms the Selection Committee for the WoC ELP?
  • The Selection Committee is composed entirely of WoCA committee members.
  • WoCA members bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and diverse perspectives to the selection process, ensuring that the most promising candidates are identified based on the established criteria.

What is the program structure?The program consists of five interconnected modules delivered through in-person workshops, complemented by personalised online executive coaching sessions scheduled between modules.

How many participants will be accepted into the program?The WoC ELP offers an intimate and transformative experience, with 16 spots available for participants. Five of these places are reserved for members of the Victorian Public Service, underscoring our dedication to supporting and empowering Women of Colour in government roles.

When and where will the WoC ELP take place?The WoC ELP will take place from August to November 2024, with 10 in-person session days at Wesley Place Business Hub, 130 Lonsdale St, Melbourne 3000. Additionally, online executive coaching sessions will be held before Module 2 and after Module 3.

Is there a cost to participate in the program?
  • There is no cost for the selected participants. The WoC ELP is supported by the Victorian Government.
  • The WoC ELP is valued at $10,000 per participant, reflecting the high-quality training, coaching, and resources provided throughout the 4-month initiative.

How do I apply for the WoC ELP?
  • Interested applicants can apply through our online application portal.
  • Applications open Monday 3 June 2024 and close midnight Monday 1 July 2024.

When will I be notified of the outcome of my application?
  • Applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by Tuesday 23 July 2024.
  • We appreciate your patience during the review process as we carefully consider each application to ensure the best possible cohort composition for the Women of Colour Executive Leadership Program.
  • Please note that due to the volume of applications, we may not be able to provide individual feedback on unsuccessful applications. However, we encourage applicants to consider re-applying for future iterations of the program.

WoCA logo

We exist to champion Australia’s Women of Colour.

THE ORIGIN OF THE PHRASE “WOMEN OF COLOR”

"Women of Color is not a biological designation. It is a solidarity definition. A commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized. It is a term that has a lot of power." Loretta Ross
Learn more here

WOMEN DEFINITION

Women - Transgender and cisgender, all those who experience or have experienced oppression as women, including non-binary and gender non-conforming people and all those who identify as women. Self-definition is at the discretion of the individual.
Definition credit: wire.org.au

ALLY DEFINITION

A - always centre the impacted
L - listen and learn from those who live in oppression
L - leverage your privilege
Y - yield the floor
*Mnemonic credit: Kayla Reed Executive Director ACTION St. Louis Follow Kayla Reed on X @iKaylaReed

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We acknowledge the Wallumattagal clan of the Darug nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which Women of Colour Australia is situated. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present. We acknowledge and honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with whom we stand in solidarity. We acknowledge that as settlers on this stolen Aboriginal land, we are beneficiaries of the dispossession, genocide, and ongoing colonial violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We believe that it is our collective responsibility and moral imperative to help dismantle the systemic barriers and structural inequities oppressing the original inhabitants of this land. We are also painfully aware that this land was taken forcibly, without a Treaty or reparations made. We have taken a practical step towards honouring sovereignty by paying the rent – and we invite you to do so too. This land is and always will be Aboriginal land. Sovereignty was never ceded.

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