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Sam Barbaro

Chief Executive Officer


Being a first generation Australian, the son of immigrant parents, I have always had an attentiveness to fairness and equality. Growing up I observed and experienced biases, but in relation to gender bias I was fortunate to have influential female role models – not only my mother but three older sisters – which meant that I was never under the ‘illusion’ that girls and women were not as capable as boys and men.

And this has been the case throughout my career, where I have seen time and time again that gender diverse teams make better business decisions and that leaders are good or bad regardless of gender There is no good reason why girls and women should not get the same opportunities as their male counterparts, yet it still happens.

I am privileged to lead an organisation that believes everyone at work has the right to feel safe, valued and respected regardless of their personal characteristics and circumstances, and this includes having the equal right to opportunities in the workplace. However, I understand that the level of this commitment is driven by ‘the top’. There is only one authentic way I can do this - not just speak my values but to demonstrate my commitment to them.

In my workplace, I commit to developing and actively supporting organisational initiatives that drive gender equity. I want to pursue this commitment more broadly which is why I chose to become a member for CEOs for Gender Equity.

I believe this membership is particularly important being a male CEO. For too long gender equity policies have been contextualised as a “women’s issue” – as women have historically been the driving force behind gender equity strategies and struggles. The matter will never be appropriately progressed unless senior business women and men work together to create the right culture and opportunities to enable women (and their business) to achieve their full potential.

At Western Power we have developed six Employee Network Groups to foster a strong, diverse and inclusive workforce and increase job satisfaction and knowledge sharing. These groups are management sponsored but employee led groups. One of these groups focusses on gender equity, which states that its main objective is to “bring to light gender biases that inhibit an equitable experience”. This group not only supports the business to provide education and attention to the relevant issues, but also champions the business’ review of our processes to ensure they support equal opportunities in the workplace.

Western Power has made positive progress and now has over 45% of women in senior leadership roles and 30% of women in all leadership roles. We appreciate the challenges that arise in traditionally male dominated field workforces (more than 50% of our workforce), but we are determined to make the changes required to improve diversity and equity in this area.

I still have more work to do but am whole heartedly committed. I look forward to improving our gender equity performance in the years ahead and maintaining a safe and diverse workforce where people want to work and can reach their full potential.


CEO Conversation.


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