Company director and ABC board member Kirstin Ferguson lurched to the front of the corporate world’s gender equality debate with a series of tweets she started in January 2017. Ferguson profiled two women on social media every day for an entire year in her #CelebratingWomen campaign, inspiring women from all walks of life to celebrate each other’s achievements.
The world of social media can be a cruel place, especially for women. Anyone who has ventured onto Twitter knows how rife anonymous online bullies, known as trolls, are. Horrific news stories, such as those detailing the death of Charlotte Dawson in 2014, show just how crushing their abuse can be.
Australian businesswoman and leading company director Kirstin Ferguson has watched countless female colleagues cop abuse online. She has had to deal with the issue frequently in her roles as a board member at the ABC and chairwoman of the ABC People Committee.
One day early in 2017, she decided enough was enough.
“I was reading some of the negative comments that one of ABC’s talented on-air broadcasters had received,” recalls Ferguson. “They were targeting Patricia Karvelas [a radio presenter and host of ABC’s Radio National Drive program]. I can’t even remember what the comments were but I was really annoyed.
“This happened in her workplace – because being online is an important part of Patricia’s work. My frustration stemmed from being on the board at the ABC and feeling a sense of concern and care for everyone within that organisation. But more so, I felt we needed to collectively find a way to make noise of a different kind, in a positive way for women.”
The next day, Ferguson wrote an opinion piece on corporate women’s news site Women’s Agenda, in which she vowed to try to counter the negativity saturating social media. She promised to “celebrate women, from all walks of life” by featuring photos and quotes from two women each day for a year on Twitter and Facebook.
The first woman she celebrated was her mother, Irene, in January 2017, and the last was her eldest daughter Emily, a year later. The movement #CelebratingWomen was born.