Victorian women you need to know: Winitha Bonney

Winitha Bonney is the founder of #ColourFULL, Australia's first leadership and entrepreneurship conference and awards night by Women of Colour for Women of Colour and allies. 

International Women's Day: Victorian women you need to know

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day.

To celebrate International Women's Day, we spoke to six incredible Victorian women who #ChooseToChallenge every day. 

Winitha Bonney is one of Australia's strongest Thought Leaders in the advancement of Women and People of Colour into leadership and entrepreneurship. She is an expert in helping organisations build inclusive cultures and communities.

Winitha is also the founder of #ColourFULL, Australia's first leadership and entrepreneurship conference and awards night by Women of Colour for Women of Colour and allies.  

Q: This year we’re focusing on women achieving equal futures in a COVID-19 world. Do you think the past year has helped or hindered our work towards gender equality? If yes/no – why?  

A: "Part of my thought leadership focuses on how Women and People of Colour can advance into leadership, and how companies can create equity and equality for them. I can say that for this demographic the past year has hindered work towards equity and equality for them.

As Women of Colour tend to sit in junior to middle management roles, they are the first ones to generally experience job loss. And this is on top of the inequities they experience day to day in work and in life.

We are also seeing them being left out of meetings, key decisions, projects, and the like, because of the move to remote working. It is easier to stonewall, gaslight, tone police, and silence an individual remotely than face to face, let alone ignore that they exist entirely. There is much work to do on this front." 

Q: Who are the women in your community or circle that inspire you?  

A: "Kemi Nekvapil is an executive coach, speaker, and author. Hands down she is the best coach I have ever come across. Every day she demonstrates to me what is possible. Words can't express the respect and admiration I have for her.  

Dr. Amy Silver is an incredible thought leader in emotion management for high performance. She is also one of my allies and someone I admire.  

Dr. Cortina McCurry is the CEO & Co-Founder of Caia. She is one of the most intelligent, brightest people I know. She's grounded, positive, and creating incredible impact through Caia. She exuberates personal power and inspires me every time I connect with her.  

I also run a private online membership-based community for Women of Colour. Every day they inspire me as I see them empower, elevate and support each other." 

Q: This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge. In your own life, how are you challenging the status quo, calling out gender bias and inequality?  

A: "My entire career is built on challenging the status quo and calling out bias, inequality, and inequity. Particularly through working with organisations in building inclusive cultures, helping Women and People of Colour to thrive and not just survive in their careers, businesses and lives, and through #ColourFULL conference and now the book.

I have been choosing to challenge since I decided to do this work many years ago and am constantly doing it everyday through working with Boards, Executive Teams, large organisations, small businesses, not for profits, Allies, and Women and  People of Colour.

I also choose to challenge the stereotype around what a Woman of Colour is supposed to do with her career and life, and I am challenging the system's inequities that seek to oppress me by pushing back in the pursuit of success, freedom, peace, and fulfillment." 

Q: Can you tell us about an empowering moment or achievement you had recently?  

A: "With Cortina, mentioned above. We went for a lovely walk recently with her gorgeous babies and talked about all things; race, feminism, corporate culture, entrepreneurship, dating, family etc.

It was such a 'cup filling' moment and being in her presence alone inspires me." 

Q: In your career and life, how has connecting with other like-minded women helped or shaped you?   

A: "It's been fundamental, from my mother who raised me and worked hard to take care of me to Kemi, Cortina, Amy, and my community of Women of Colour.

Connecting with like-minded women is fundamental to our success and survival. I wrote extensively about this in my book #ColourFULL. Without these inspirational women, I would not be where I am.

I choose collaboration over competition. There is more than one seat at the table, so let's support and elevate each other even if that means giving them an opportunity that was handed to us." 

Winitha offers a range of one-on-one and group-based workshops, training programs, coaching and mentoring programs as well as online self-paced programs to help organisations build inclusive cultures and to support Women and People of Colour to advance in leadership and in business.

In April 2021, she will be releasing her book #ColourFULL; how Women of Colour become powerful leaders that transform the world. It is available now for pre-order via her website .

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