Inspiring International Women’s Day cake at Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility

 September 10, 2019

Kohuora Auckland South Corrections Facility celebrated International Women’s Day with a special cake designed and made by male prisoners working in Kohuora Bistro, the staff café.

The cake was made by the men in Kohuora under supervision and support from staff. Learning a trade is a key part of the work in correctional facilities as a means to increase employment opportunities after their release from prison. Employment has been identified as one of the major factors in reducing reoffending. The IWD challenge provided a great incentive for the Kohuora Bistro team’s developing patisserie skills.

The globe design represents hope for a global #BalanceforBetter while the flag ‘Anything is possible’ recognises the achievements of women around the world. The IWD banner around the cake signifies the varied work and lifestyle options of 21st century women. The sea is melted chocolate, spray-painted with blue and green food colouring. Landform stencils were sourced from an atlas and created from fondant. The cake was presented at a meeting of Tu Wahine Mai, the network group for women working in Kohuora.

A remarkable accomplishment indeed.

Further IWD activity across Serco

Serco believes everyone has an important role to play in building a diverse workforce and an inclusive workplace where everyone, regardless of gender, can reach their potential in a place where they feel welcome. Their vision, under its Diversity & Inclusion Strategy, is that an inclusive workplace, built by diversity and collaboration, can make a positive difference to its people, clients and the communities in which Serco operates. 

The IWD 2019 theme enabled Serco to build on this vision, extend its conversations with its people about Diversity and Inclusion, and reinforce how its commitment to gender parity allows Serco to best support its clients and the people in its care.

Serco iwd

A global approach to Serco’s IWD celebrations

Serco encouraged its people to engage with IWD through a coordinated global approach while supporting local activities across multiple sites in Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, the USA, Canada, UK, Europe and the Middle East. Each site took responsibility for running their own event, making sure all activities reflected the #BalanceforBetter theme.

For example, Serco teams had the opportunity to attend local events that included panel discussions with guest speakers, leaders and employees discussing what gender parity means to them, how they #BalanceforBetter and what Serco can do to achieve gender parity.

The organisation also made sure its work had an impact beyond IWD by raising money for local women’s charities.

Celebrating longest serving female employees


Women who work at Serco were also celebrated through internal communications that showcased its longest serving female employees and leaders who are role models in the organisation for promoting gender equality.

Serco proudly shared the stories of #SercoInspiringWomen as they celebrated IWD. Here is one example - Denise, who was Acting Assistant Director of Prisoner Management at Southern Queensland Correctional Centre (SQCC) at the time. “When I came into the prison system in 1989 it was very much a male-dominated workforce, with very few female staff working in operational roles in male prisons. During the past 30 years, that has changed dramatically with women complementing the industry and helping to make it a safer environment due to our specific skill sets," explains Denise.

As a young mother of four children under the age of six, Denise had a passion to make a difference by helping prisoners rehabilitate. Denise applied to be a prison officer at the Borallon Correctional Centre, which was the first privately run prison in Australia. That was in 1989 and Denise is still in the prison system, and that drive to create positive change has never diminished.

"I was employed at Borallon Correctional Centre for 12 years and later transferred to Acacia Prison in Western Australia. I was brought over to SQCC to support the transition to a women’s facility. I have continued to grow, learn and thrive in my time in the corrections industry, from a prison officer through to senior management. My mantra has always been to make a difference to the lives of people we care for and treat everyone with dignity and respect. I feel blessed to have the career I have and have always been provided the tools and resources to strive to be better, encouraged to promote and supported with training opportunities," comments Denise. “Ultimately, everything we do is geared towards rehabilitation.”

For IWD, Denise took part in SQCC’s inaugural International Women’s Day high tea event that brought together staff, special guests from the community and prisoners. The function reinforced the message to female prisoners that they can strive to make their lives better and break the cycle of offending.

Connecting Serco employees for IWD around the world

For IWD, Serco connected global teams via a series of initiatives. For example, an International Yammer Jam invited colleagues around the world to discuss topics regarding gender parity and diversity. This included Serco’s progress in building a truly inclusive culture; ‘Adapting to Change like a Boss'; and the IWD theme of ‘Better the balance, better the world’, where people shared examples of gender balance in the media, sport or the workplace.

Part of Serco’s global approach was its ‘Pledge to Support Serco Inspiring Women’ initiative, a mentoring programme that connected both male and female Serco Inspiring Women’s members from around the world. The mentoring programme saw colleagues in Asia Pacific mentor a colleague in the UK, or an American network member mentoring a Middle East colleague.

Additionally, Serco’s Strike a Pose campaign was popular with staff around the world who posted images on their social media platforms.


An inclusive event at a local and global level

Serco’s IWD celebrations ensured people had the opportunity to attend both local and global events which allowed them to collaborate, share best practices, and build a community committed to gender parity. The local events allowed people to make an immediate impact for gender equality, while the international events created a shared commitment for global change.

The IWD events were inclusive of both employees and people in Serco’s care. The events empowered the people in its care to reflect on what IWD means for them, access educational opportunities and enable them to craft gifts for significant women in their lives.

Thanks to Serco’s fun and educational activities - from selfie snapping, baking competitions, and performing arts to panel discussions and educational webinars - everyone was supported in celebrating IWD and working towards building a more inclusive and diverse community for all.

Serco women's day

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