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Jessica Hickman is a passionate advocate for positive workplace culture and business success. Her own experience of harassment ignited a fire within and lead her to found Bullyology; programmes helping ensure the organisation is optimally productive, legally compliant and free from toxic behaviours.

Tell us a little bit about your business. My business is about equipping organisations with the right tools and know-how to be trail blazers in shifting workplace culture. I work with business leaders, schools, and employees across Australia delivering keynote talks, workshops and coaching to help people thrive at work. With a core focus on being able to recognise and remove toxic behaviours that hinder employee and business success. After suffering extensive workplace bullying for being a successful female in a male dominated industry, I ended up collapsing at work from burnout and stress. This led me on my mission to develop my business bullyology and work to educate people on the damaging effects of bullying and harassment.

I have won a slew of business awards for my thought leadership and future focused programs.

In the years of owning your own business, what has been your most memorable experience/moment?

To date, it is the launch of my second book. Writing my book ‘The Upstander Leader’ was a labour of love. It was born after identifying a need in society to help end unnecessary suffering due to bullying, harassment and toxic workplace cultures. I’ve been fortunate to share my message of a new vision of leadership on stages across the world and share my research into what new generations are looking for in today’s modern workforce. My work includes conducting extensive research and road testing my unique methodologies across workplaces and industries. My book is now in airports and all good bookstores across Australia.

You are undoubtedly busy, how do you take care of yourself and maintain a good mental health?

During the turbulence of my workplace bullying I really learnt to pull from different sources of support and I anchored myself using meditation and yoga, making sure I carved out some ‘me time’. That’s now the foundation for my self-care. Seeking support from mentors, coaches and working daily to be mentally fit. Personal development is such an important aspect of my well-being. I am always investing in my personal and professional growth by attending workshops and events across Australia (while working to bring the same quality events to the Central West).

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Be the change you want to see. Lead with the heart, don’t fall victim to the status quo that suggests women need to be masculine to succeed in the business world. Be authentic, kind and heart centred in your leadership approach. Also, unfortunately the more successful you become, the more people will try to hold you back. Tall poppy syndrome is extremely prominent across Australia and there is a culture of others chopping others down for success. Remember this is a representative of their insecurities (not a reflection of you).

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing female leaders today? Sexual or Gender-Based Harassment. Movements like “#MeToo” and Respect@Work campaigns (including changes and in anti-harassment laws) have certainly helped, but we’re a long way from totally harassment-free workplaces. Even women in positions of power still contend with sexual and gender-based harassment daily across the country. According to Safework Australia, 2 in 5 women have experienced sexual harassment at work. Sexual harassment is such a burden on female leaders and often unconsciousbias from male counterparts causes many challenges for female leaders today. This is something I see almost daily in my work. We have a long way to go!!!

What's one thing every woman should know about being successful in her career and life?

You can have it all. A career and family! There is far too much stigma placed on women to choose between both. And in my experience, a lot of outdated unconscious bias placed on women assuming you must choose a career path or motherhood (especially in regional towns). Jacinda Ardern was a beautiful example of a working mother and powerful female leader. It’s important to drown out the noise of the naysayers and run your own race.

What’s on the horizon for you in 2023?

First and foremost, I will be enjoying my time as a first time mother and journeying into parenthood (when navigating a business growing at a rapid rate). Working with many businesses across the Central West (and Australia) developing thriving ‘upstander’ workplace cultures. My work allows to me connect deeply with the community and I have recently taken on a board position at Business Orange, become a Co-founder of Central West Inspired Women and youth mentor for Regional Development Australia. Lots in the pipeline – Watch this space!!

location: ORANGE, NSW



photography: MONIQUE LOVICK


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