Women in leadership – Edwina Pribyl

The theme for International Women’s Day 2023 is #EmbraceEquity. We asked five women in leadership roles at Viva Energy Australia what that means for them personally, for women generally, and for Australian society as a whole.

09 Mar 2023
  • Viva Energy

Edwina Pribyl - content

The importance of effective communication to the public, governments and stakeholders is significant for a large and diverse company like Viva Energy. The responsibility rests on Edwina Pribyl, Head of External Communications, and her team to represent Viva Energy in all these interactions.

A witness to change

“The energy industry has traditionally been quite male dominated, but that’s changed a lot since I started,” she explains. “Increasingly, companies recognise that having a diverse workforce creates a more successful business. Hearing from a range of voices means we’re more likely to be considering all the options, opportunities, and ways of approaching things.”

Support when it’s needed

Equal representation is particularly important in leadership positions. Edwina has always supported her female colleagues by providing advice and encouraging them to pursue career opportunities. “I would love to see more women leading companies in the future. Women are still underrepresented in that area.”

Leadership is just one area where Edwina sees opportunity for continued improvement in society, pointing to the need to provide women with good information so they have a better understanding of their superannuation and personal finances, to ensure they are appropriately set-up for retirement. “It distresses me that women, especially older women, are among the most at risk of falling into poverty and homelessness due to their roles as unpaid carers, taking career breaks or working in casual jobs.”

“Companies like Viva Energy that have supportive policies that help close the pay gap and therefore superannuation gap will be critical to helping more women retire in financial security.”

Finding her voice

Today Edwina is as confident as she is capable, but she didn’t always feel that was the case. Finding the courage to speak up when she thought something wasn’t right was an obstacle she worked to overcome.

She has advice for anyone in a similar position: “It can sometimes feel like speaking out might have consequences, so you have to choose your moment,” she says. “You don’t want to embarrass someone publicly, so provide feedback privately. And make sure you have examples that support what you’re saying.”

She has noticed that young women today appear more ready to enter the workforce. “They seem very confident, which I love. Confidence will stand them in good stead!”

Defining qualities

Equity is defined as ‘the quality of being fair and impartial’. Edwina believes that these qualities are embedded in Viva Energy’s processes and procedures, from recruitment through to remuneration, recognition and promotion.

“I think the future looks bright for both men and women, as the policies in place at Viva Energy – and an increasing number of other organisations – allow people at all life stages to participate in the workforce and contribute.”

Embracing equity

The key to a more equitable future lies in the diversity of the decision makers responsible for hiring and promoting people in senior positions. “We all have a natural bias to recruit people in our own image. Organisations must make an effort to ensure there’s diversity within their recruitment panels, otherwise they’ll continue hiring the same talent.”

For Edwina, ‘embracing equity’ is an opportunity to tap into the amazing diversity we have around us. “People shouldn’t see equity as a threat. Recruiting from the total population instead of just half means you tap into all the great talent, and there is certainly enough work to go around.

“Let’s celebrate our diversity and appreciate different views, different perspectives, and different ways of doing things.”