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Carly Stebbing is a workplace rights advocate and founder of the award-winning online firm Resolution123. Stebbing has a track record of successfully building an employer practice, an employee practice and legal tech solutions. She is also the Women Lawyer’s Association Change Champion for 2021, selected for her work advancing women's rights and the profession. Stebbing discusses her career and women’s empowerment.

Why did you choose a career in law?

I chose a double degree in business and law as I knew it would open up opportunities. At one point I deferred my degree for six months because I didn’t love the study of law. I decided the best way to test whether to commit to the rest of my legal studies was to do some work experience. I was lucky enough to get a job at an employer association. That’s where I fell in love with employment law and after that I was committed to completing my studies.

What is Resolution123 and what led you to create it?

Resolution123 makes employment law quick, simple and affordable for Australian employees. When I was a partner at a boutique employment law firm, a lot of employees inquired about whether they had a claim but were means tested out of getting legal advice because it was not commercially viable. I was conscious that there was an obstacle to accessing justice. While on maternity leave, I told my friend “surely there could be an app for that.” I pitched the idea at a hackathon weekend and won. In my mother’s group, I saw firsthand the discrimination women face when returning to work or going off on maternity leave and are unable to afford legal advice.

What are some of the most common employment issues you’ve dealt with during the pandemic?

Since vaccines were made available and we’ve been asked to go back to work, the issue of mandatory vaccinations became the most pressing area that both sides needed advice on. Prior to that, it came in ebbs and flows. In March 2020, it was very much about how do I protect my job or if I’ve lost my job, what are my entitlements? We found there was a reduction in capacity to pay for legal services but an enormous need for it. I did Facebook Live events to explain Job Keeper as it was being announced and sent out free information and templates.

How is employment law changing? Have the sexual harassment claims in government affected much on your end?

I think the advice is changing around sexual harassment. In the past, trading confidentiality for monetary compensation has been the business transaction of the settlement of sexual harassment matters. Women are becoming more empowered and less likely to accept that trade. They’re more empowered to argue for their claim to be resolved because it’s the right thing to do and not in exchange for their silence. More enlightened organisations are realising it’s not a good look to continue adopting this heavy-handed approach to resolving claims by forcing women to accept confidentiality and non-disparagement clauses.

What advice do you give employees who have to work with a difficult boss or colleague?

Having allies at work is really important. Building support networks around yourself, at work and at home, is essential. When you can, call out behaviour that’s causing you distress. I also advise people to keep notes: both as a sanity check for yourself but also as an evidence trail. If there is a pattern to the conduct, then you’ve got two immediate options. One is to leave. While this might feel like you’re letting the person win, it might also just be the best option for your mental health. The alternative option is to make an internal or external complaint.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have two young kids so spending time with them and connecting with friends and family. If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s to live for today and celebrate what you have right now. That’s my favourite thing to do. To keep myself present and prevent burnout, I go for long walks and listen to podcasts. That’s my escape for the day.