Meet Anna on International Women’s Day – Celebrate, Raise Awareness, Take Action
On International Women’s Day we’re asked to imagine a gender equal world. Can you picture a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination? It’s a world that’s diverse, equitable and inclusive, where difference is valued and celebrated. One Coffs Coast local is take steps toward such a world as she facilitates connection and explores what it means to belong. From spearheading a global movement to prioritising mental health at work, Anna McAfee is creating change and elevating the values that matter.
In 2017, Anna met with 15 strangers from the internet. They’d initially connected via professional networking platform LinkedIn but felt the human factor was lacking. Anna had posted her idea for a Coffs Harbour meet up and added the hashtag #LinkedInLocal. In two years, the movement grew to a global community of 300,000 people in more than 650 cities. This is a woman who knows how to bring people together and keep them engaged in community.
“It’s coming up to five years since we started running the events in Coffs,” Anna explains. “They’re all about getting to know the people behind the LinkedIn profiles and connecting at a human level.”
Break the Bias
Whether it’s establishing professional networks or working to forge women’s equality, truly knowing and understanding another person can facilitate genuine connection that leaves little room for barriers, bias and stereotypes. In her profession as a consultant and trainer, Anna recognises that she occupies a position of privilege. She is treated with respect and rarely feels at a disadvantage due to her gender. But Anna is well aware that this is not the case for many women.
“Through LinkedIn and my other networks and communities, I know of inequality in so many areas,” she explains. “I feel I’m in a place of privilege, but I still think there is a long way to go in some sectors and circles.”
Managing Minds and Burnout
A lot of women have embraced the notion that they can have it all. While this is certainly true, what’s less clear is how to handle the inevitable obstacles and paradoxes along the way. Last year, Anna had the opportunity to host a podcast called Managing Minds. From stopping burnout to managing an unhealthy work culture, it was aimed at helping managers become more effective in dealing with mental health issues. Anna says she was able to interview a range of incredible people and have many poignant conversations. However, it was an interview with ABC Health Reporter Sophie Scott that led Anna to question her own experience of burnout. She describes it as a “penny drop” moment.
“Sophie talked about the burnout associated with carers and that’s something I’d never really heard talked about from a professional perspective,” Anna explains. “I had been trying to do my work, manage a global community and be a mum to young children at the same time.”
“People say you’re exhausted, you just need to rest – but there’s so much more going on,” she continues. “It isn’t just about the workplace, it’s about the whole environment that you’re in.”
Leaning Into Values
Establishing boundaries, re-ordering priorities and aligning her values helped Anna recover. She took a step back from LinkedIn Local at the global level, consequently experiencing both enormous grief and a huge sense of relief. She continues to run the local chapter of LinkedIn Local as well as train professionals on how to build communities and how to show up and participate in them. The next Coffs Harbour event will take place on March 16 and explore the theme ‘Building Resilience at Work’.
This year Anna will focus on leaning into her values and working with organisations that share them. She is proud to be an ambassador for World Values Day 2022. On International Women’s Day, we recognise Anna and the work she does to bring people together locally and globally. A diverse, equitable and inclusive world where difference is valued and celebrated is a few steps closer.
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