01 June 2023

The Open Mind Of '22 Encorer, Lisa Reffold

We're proud to announce that The Encoreship 2023 placements are now open for the third consecutive year. The return-to-work program aims to empower women who have been out of the workforce for an extended period, with a 3-month paid placement at DISSH and supportive ongoing mentorship.

The initiative extends to eleven Australian brands, including Gritty Pretty, Shona Joy, AlphaH and Adore Beauty. Our combined goal is to restore confidence, industry connections and a pathway to securing future employment for women.

With only 32% of mothers feeling confident re-entering the workforce, The Encoreship looks to bridge larger societal issues of gender equality and pay gap by keeping women in the workforce through creating opportunities for those who want to work.

As a first time Mom to 9-month-old Remi, DISSH Owner and Director, Lucy Henry-Hicks appreciates the barriers facing women. "Our mission is to empower women to have choices and build a life full of passion and purpose, whatever that may be. We are firm believers that employment is the key to financial independence, and in turn provides freedom of choice."

Reflecting on prior placements, we sat down with 2022 Encorer Lisa Reffold to learn about her experiences and the lifechanging impact of The Encoreship - deemed as "a second chance at life."

A former Finance Director in the Oil & Gas industry, Lisa struggled to secure an interview in attempts to re-enter the workforce after taking just six years off to grow her family.

How many years did you take out of the work force, and what was your primary reason for leaving?

I had 6 years out of the workforce to look after my children. 

Did you receive any workplace support when announcing your journey to parenthood? If not, how would a support program have changed your experience?

I waited as long as I could before telling them due to fear of losing my position. When I did, it was a rushed conversation with no follow up. If I had a doctor’s appointment, it was a hard conversation to take time away from work. There was no give and take.

A support program would have allowed financial security while I took the time out and I wouldn’t have felt as rushed to go back. I would’ve had quality time with my baby without worrying about the finances.

What was the biggest stigma around leaving or coming back?

As much as you want to be at home with your baby, guilt is a big factor. You’re guilty when you're at home with your baby, and you’re guilty when you’re at work. It’s something you have to learn to live with. 

Have you experienced bias in the workplace?

My early years were in a male dominated industry, and I had to work twice as hard. I really had to prove my worth, and you let other people take the credit for the work that you’ve done.

After leaving, what barriers prevented you from re-entering the work force?

I was told I didn’t have 'current experience'. When I came into The Encoreship, the story I had in my head was that I was never going to be able to operate a laptop. Within the first 48 hours we worked out that wasn’t the issue at all. I had this going on in my head for years, because of what I had experienced when trying to re-enter the workforce - but my skills were as relevant as ever and all I needed was for someone to have faith in me.

How has your confidence changed from the beginning to the end of your Encoreship journey?

Right at the very beginning, I didn’t believe in myself at all. I had lost all my self-confidence. It was a challenge. As much as I wanted the Encoreship placement, it was a challenge to turn up and be present. But I grew, and that was thanks to the support I had around me. I feel like this is my second chance at life.

What would you say to someone who is interested in The Encoreship but is lacking self belief?

Go for it. It's empowering. It will change your view of who you are as an individual. It will give you back your confidence, and you will soar. You just have to embrace being uncomfortable, because you will be right at the beginning.

What would be your hope for the next generation - your daughters, your granddaughters, and their journeys?

I would love for my children, and my grandchildren, to have equality and an even playing field. Motherhood is a joy, and it shouldn't be to the detriment of a woman's career. 

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