Ross Baron

Head of Wesley College
In his own words . . .
21053_0131.jpg

Why did you choose to become a member of CEOs for Gender Equity?

Wesley College is on a concerted journey to achieve gender equity. Our staff are the backbone of our community and give hugely of themselves to create the comprehensive, caring and opportunity rich school environment that our students benefit from.


Following comments at a Senior School assembly on International Women’s Day 2021, a number of staff, both male and female, spoke up to share their experiences of student behaviour at Wesley, which included instances of students exhibiting disrespectful and at times sexualised behaviour towards female staff.


This has brought the importance of achieving gender equity firmly onto the College’s agenda and it is included in the College’s 2022 Strategic Priorities.


By joining CEOs for Gender Equality, I am strengthening this commitment and partnering with likeminded leaders to bring about change. I remain passionate about equality and diversity in society and recognise the importance of role modelling this in our schools. Being part of this organisation will increase my own awareness of the issues and provide insight for how I can influence change in a practical way.

What are the benefits of achieving gender equity in the work place?

For staff to be fully engaged and giving their best, they need to know they are valued and on an even playing field with equal opportunities for all. This includes access to professional development, promotional opportunities and flexibility where required for all staff.


As a Uniting Church school, equity for all is reflected in our values of Respect, Integrity, Honesty and Compassion.
Added to this, from sitting on many boards and committees, I have observed that diversity in leadership structures improves scrutiny and rigour in decision making and guides better outcomes.

How is your work place taking steps towards gender equity?

The College has commenced its pursuit of gender equity in a number of ways including:

  • The creation of a Gender Advisory Panel who meet regularly and have developed an action plan including metrics, targets and commitments.

  • The policy suite covering harassment and inappropriate conduct has been reviewed, with a focus on identification, notification, escalation and follow-up.

  • The Contact Officer network was strengthened. Thirteen staff participated in Contact Officer training run by the Equal Opportunity Commission with a view to offering stronger pathways for staff concerns to be elevated.

  • Three focus groups have been run which have focussed on understanding the barriers to change, defining inappropriate behaviour (staff to staff, staff to student, student to staff) and examining Wesley’s philosophy about gender equality.

  • A presentation on the matter was made to College Council at its July 2021 Retreat

  • The College has invested in training and education for staff: 

Senior and middle leaders received Unconscious Bias training.

An impactful panel discussion was held for all staff during a Staff Professional Development day.

Staff have undergone online sexual harassment training, in conjunction with a staff consultation process regarding a revised Staff Code of Conduct.

A whole-staff Professional Development session was run looking at respectful relationships and bystander / upstander behaviour.

  • International Women’s Day was celebrated by all students and staff in 2022.

  • Feedback from staff has been positive as the cultural shift continues to become embedded.

Why should leaders drive change towards gender equity from the top down?

  • Change occurs faster when it is driven from the top.

  • If leaders are not seen to be role modelling and valuing Gender Equity, then all efforts are lip service.

  • Leaders influence decisions.

Why is it important for other CEOs to get behind CEOs for Gender Equity?

  • If there is a tidal wave of leaders talking about the issue and driving change of work place culture, change will occur much faster.