Breaking the Bias - Fabiola Campbell

In Australia, only 22.3% of founders are women. However, Fabiola Campbell, Kate Austin and Silvia Wanigatunga defied the odds in order to launch successful businesses and non-profits respectively. 

In recognition of International Women's Day, we were honoured to host a panel led by these 3 incredible women to talk about breaking the bias to our team. Now, we'd like to share some of their insights and advice with you to inspire women to keep breaking the bias beyond International Women's Day.

Meet Fabiola Campbell

Fabiola Campbell

After she emigrated from Venezuela to Australia in 2004, Fabiola Campbell experienced first-hand the challenges migrant women can face when seeking employment. However, with grit and tenacity, she was able to build her skills in areas such as community development, professional coaching, and professional training. This expertise led to the founding of the Professional Migrant Women mentoring program in 2019.

Through her organisation, Fabiola's mission is to maximise the potential and contribution of professional migrant women in Australia through meaningful contribution, visibility and intersectional representation. 

Over the last 15 years, you’ve built an impressive career as a company founder, a member of the Victorian Multicultural Commission Council representative, and mentor who aims to empower diverse professional women. What were some of the initial challenges you faced when you emigrated from Venezuala and how did you overcome them?

The transition from being an independent, successful career woman with great potential to grow to being underemployed, undervalued and oftentimes feeling invisible in the workplace, has been probably the hardest part of the migration process.

When you are willing to contribute with your skills and talents and that intention is not appreciated, it makes you doubt yourself and feel frustrated. To overcome this, even to this day, I keep surrounding myself with people that believe in me, appreciate me, and walk with me in this journey to back each other up.

In Australia, only 22.3% of founders are women. What is the story behind the founding of Professional Migrant Women, and why should companies invest in female-led organisations?

PMW is about maximising the potential and contribution of Professional Migrant Women in Australia.  While representation of white women in middle, upper management and leadership roles is slowly increasing, women from diverse cultural backgrounds are still underrepresented across the Australian corporate landscape.  And the research shows that low levels of representation is one of the main barriers to achieving equality.

This is also true for businesses, where investing in female-led organisations lead to better chances of breaking down barriers and increasing access to equitable opportunities. To build a high-growth, innovative national economy, we need more diversity in the startup landscape, including backing female-led organisations.

As an employer, what is the best way to maximise the potential and contribution of professional migrant women in the workplace?

I have 4 general recommendations:

  1. Intersectional representation: seeing people like you in places that you aspire to be
  2. representational mentoring: being mentored by people like you
  3. continues action: to create personal and cultural changes, not just one-off training sessions
  4. structural changes: fixing the system, not the women.

What would your advice be to other women who intend on starting their own companies in the future?

  1. Have a clear why. Your purpose will give you motivation, strength and clarity to persist.
  2. Have a backup plan: have a secure source of income while growing your business.
  3. Developing a business takes time: be prepared for a marathon, not a 100m race.
  4. Trust the process: when you take consistent and intentional steps towards your goal, the most likely thing to happen is that you achieve your goal!

Why are diversity and inclusion important in the workplace?

Evidence abounds that increasing the diversity of workplaces leads to better business outcomes. as well as individuals,  their families, and the community in general. Advancing the role, status, and contribution of migrant women in our communities will grow the talent pool available for the workforce, encourage more diversity and flexibility in the workplace, and result in representation, equality, increased innovation, productivity, and prosperity. 

Please support us grow migrant women’s representation across the Australian corporate landscape by donating to our crowdfunding campaign.

If you would like to learn more about Fabiola’s work at Professional Migrant Women, please visit their website