In line with International Women’s Day, disability services provider, Afford has announced that Carol Bryant has been elected Chair and is the first female Chair of the more than 70-year old not-for-profit’s Board of Directors.

“I’m thrilled to be named the Chair of Afford as the organisation embarks on a new journey where we build strength in our service through consultation and co-design with our clients, ensuring client voice and choice is core to everything we do,” Ms Bryant said.

Ms Bryant’s appointment comes 15 months after new CEO, Jo Toohey was appointed and means that for the first time in Afford’s history, two female leaders will be at the helm. Carol Bryant and Jo Toohey will be working together during an important period of transformation, as rights-based practice is embedded and digital innovation prioritised.

This comes as the gender balance in leadership roles across Australia remains a cause of concern, with the 2022 Chief Executive Women (CEW) Senior Executive Census finding that “of 28 CEO appointments at ASX300 companies in the past year, only four were women.” The Census results also stated that “at this rate it will take 100 years for women to make up at least 40% of all CEO positions on the ASX200.”

“The first thing the Board of Directors wants to progress, with me as the new Chair, is a more inclusive and representative approach to governance at Afford – and our search for new Board Directors with the skills and experience we need, diversity of perspectives, as well as lived and actual experience of disability is well underway, Ms Bryant said.

“Moving forward, a focus on technology and digital innovation will strengthen the quality of our service, as well as open up opportunities for people with disability to advance their goals for independent living, career avenues and community connection in new ways.”

Afford’s transformation is well underway in 2023 and CEO Jo Toohey says it is timely that their organisational changes fit with the United Nation’s theme for International Women’s Day; “DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality.

“We completely support the theme of DigitALL at Afford. It is alarming that the World Bank reports that women make up less than a third of the world’s workforce in technology-related fields. This is in the year 2023. This really needs to change and myself and the Executive Leadership Team at Afford welcome the opportunity to make critical changes around inclusion and equality happen with Carol Bryant as our Chair.

“The theme of DigitALL is so important on International Women’s Day and we would extend that theme to including women, and overall people with disability – and the need for career opportunities for people with disability to advance in the technology space. Because there is no reason for it not to, and especially when we’re experiencing significant talent shortages in Australia,” said Jo Toohey, CEO at Afford.

Carol Bryant was previously the Chief Executive Officer at Westmead Private Hospital and Macquarie University Hospital. She is qualified in psychology, education, nursing and governance. Carol’s experience and knowledge has been gained in senior executive roles across healthcare and complex organisations. She has been a Director at Afford since September 2020 and Deputy Chair since November 2021.

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