IWD: How these Female Entrepreneurs Managed Through COVID

COVID-19 has significantly increased women’s burdens and has exacerbated the already existing gender inequalities. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact of on women globally, including Australia.

We know that there are some amazing women leaders that are making an impact every day. But did you know that:

  • In Australian companies, women represent just 17.1% of CEOs and 14.1% of board chairs.
  • Australia doesn’t even feature in the top 10 countries for female entrepreneurship.
  • Just one of the 25 CEOs appointed to lead ASX 200 organisations in the past year has been female.

By sharing the inspiring stories of our entrepreneurs we are collectively celebrating women’s achievements.

Kris Grant, CEO, ASPL Group

Before COVID-19, I was travelling for work four to five times a week, so I’d learnt to work in Ubers, airports and on many planes, keeping the ASPL Group tribe connected and engaged remotely. I’ve had to build on this during COVID as I manage quite a large team and we are located throughout Asia Pacific, so it’s been a top priority for me to continue to catching up with our people while we’ve been staying home. With all of the upheaval and change, I have been focused on my team’s wellbeing, and regularly check in with them individually over Teams, Webex or Zoom to see how they are travelling.

During the lockdowns last year, we moved entirely to video conferencing with our clients running workshops, interviews, coaching and leadership training.  Technology has been critical to our success and allowed us to continue delivery not only within Australia but with other parts of the world. We are now focussed on how we can improve incidental learning and collaboration online.

I’ve taken my learnings from the pandemic and used them to make a concerted effort to be flexible with our staff, who have additional responsibilities with their families and children. I am really understanding of the challenges we face as women in the workforce. Offering school hours and true flexibility removes the boundaries that keep so many incredible women out of work. At ASPL Group, we’re all supportive of each other and have deep empathy for some of these challenges.

My greatest achievement are my two incredible children, Aimee and Adam who are such inspirational, engaged young adults.

It is now up to each individual to self-reflect on how you can make a difference on helping to forge a gender equal world.

Adele Maree, Founder of ReachABLE

Founding ReachABLE was something I never ever imagined doing. But neither had I imagined leaving my teaching career to become a full-time carer for my son, nor spending most of 2019 in hospital awaiting his brain surgery. Life gifted me many challenges, most were terrifying, but simultaneously so beautiful and soul-filling.

ReachABLE turned out to be one of these gifts.

After my youngest son recovered from brain surgery I planned to get back into teaching. Covid, however, had other plans. The day we discharged from hospital, lockdown began. It took a lot of soul searching to wholeheartedly trust that something good was to come. Good did come. Covid gave me the time and space to finish the book I had been writing in hospital, Dear Selfless Mama. And it was reading back through my own journey that I realised how little there was out there for women who wanted more than just the perfect body. I dreamed of a program that helped women take control of their bodies and minds despite living with stress, uncertainty and adversity. I envisioned ReachABLE Body & Mind as the culmination of all the things that kept me putting one foot in front of the other; Exercise, mindset, mindfulness, nutrition and connection.

Covid came and went again.

But my son’s condition stuck around, as it worsened, it forced me to make peace with a future of being largely homebound. I knew that I needed ReachABLE and I was quite sure there were others that needed it too.

It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t. I have come to accept that imperfect action is better than perfect inaction.  When it gets tough, I go back to the why, the reason I started and muster up just enough grit to get me to the next small win.

Chloe de Winter – Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor and Founder of Go Chlo Pilates

The impact of COVID on my business is undeniable, in fact the global pandemic resulted in the birth of Go Chlo Pilates. 

Prior to COVID, I was living in New York, working as a physiotherapist and Pilates instructor at one of the city’s leading boutique Pilates studios. That meant, a physical commute to the studio, face to face sessions, hands on adjustments and close physical contact! Ah, how things have changed!

When March, 2020 came, I found myself back in my birthplace Australia and overnight I was unemployed with the forced closure of the New York studio. I’d gone from living my dream in the Big City to living in my parents house! It was from this point, my lowest in a long time, that Go Chlo Pilates, my online Pilates studio, empowering people through movement, was born. Suddenly, people around the world were looking for ways to move their bodies and stay active while locked inside, but it was also a time when human interaction was limited and all anyone wanted was connection. The beauty of Go Chlo Pilates, is that it gives you all of that.

People who never considered working out at home, were now loving the flexibility, convenience and affordability of at-home workouts! It meant that my first live zoom class, garnered 60 people and I was able to build a business off the back of it. Go Chlo Pilates now has a subscription platform, offering specially designed, physiotherapy backed, Pilates classes for all levels.

Now my full-time job, this role genuinely gives me more fulfilment than I thought I would ever have professionally. As I watch new subscribers join the platform each week, I feel an immense sense of joy, as I am helping others love movement in the same way I do. It’s pretty great!

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