Posted: 19 Nov. 2020 05 min. read

The power of bringing your true self to work

Julie Bale is the Chief Information Officer (CIO) at EnergyAustralia and one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders of 2020. Julie is passionate about co-creating solutions to problems and fostering an environment where people can do their best work without fear. For many years, Julie felt like she couldn’t truly bring her true self to work, keeping her private life and professional life separate. It took a new role to highlight the importance of working with the right people, in the right company. Julie took the leap, and it paid off.

LGBTI+ inclusion and visibility: The difference we can all make is to participate and engage in the conversation about LGBTI+ inclusion. Change is made by those who show up, and we’re so fortunate in our organisation to have so many people who volunteer their own time to help make it a better place for all of us. As someone within the LGBTI+ community, I can tell you wholeheartedly that it means a great deal when people show up. Get involved. The reward is huge, and you’ll have a lot of fun.

On changing perceptions:
During the marriage equality debate, my son sent me an article about Alan Joyce. The article talked about life being too short to not bring every part of yourself to work. My son said to me, “Mum, the next organisation you work for, I want them to know the whole you”. I always kept my private life and professional life separate, making sure no one knew I was in a gay relationship. Some of the organisations I’ve worked at throughout my career, I felt, haven’t been a safe place for me to talk openly, particularly as an executive. It was a hard-enough environment as a female at that level without needing to add more pressure.

Being able to bring my whole self to work became a really important factor in choosing to join EnergyAustralia. I did a lot of due diligence before accepting the role. Something that stood out to me was the values of Catherine Tanna, our Managing Director. There is a strong social conscience that runs through the veins of EnergyAustralia. I took a risk, one I felt was worth taking, and it has paid off for me.

On inclusive leadership:
I’m sure there are many people who’ve either felt excluded or been excluded in the workplace. I don’t want anyone under my leadership to feel that way, ever. Everyone has an equal right to be at the table, share their opinions and make their contribution in a safe environment.

Not everyone has the confidence or support (whether that be from family or colleagues) to be themselves at work – what advice would you give to them?
My advice is to seek someone out who you know is LGBTI+, whether they are inside or outside your organisation. Talking to others helps. Hearing first-hand about how others have learned to become more open is worth doing. It gives you confidence. It gives you hope. Just ask me.

Words to describe me:
Having integrity, passionate, resilient.

Julie is one of our Outstanding 50 LGBTI+ Leaders of 2020 – a list that recognises and celebrates the many LGBTI+ role models in business and across our community. For more on our inspirational LGBTI+ leaders, visit our Outstanding 50 webpage.

More about the author

Jade Fosberry

Jade Fosberry

Communications Manager, ICS, MCBD

Jade Fosberry leads communications for Inclusion, Diversity and Wellbeing, within Deloitte’s Corporate Affairs and Communications team. Jade is passionate about storytelling and believes in the power of a compelling story to effect real change.