Q&A with Michael Whytcross

Michael Whytcross

Michael Whytcross

General Manager – Finance and Commercial, The Star Entertainment Group Limited

Why are you an advocate for gender equality in the gaming and hospitality industry?  

Gender equality, not only in our industry, but across all workplaces is a benefit to everyone. Not only is it the right thing do but it makes sense from a business perspective.

At The Star, our goal is to create an environment where every team member is valued, feels welcomed, has a voice and the same opportunities to thrive regardless of their gender, sexuality or background.

I believe it is important to be a visible leader in promoting gender equality, and it’s one of the major reasons why I am an advocate within our industry.

Across The Star, we have had the opportunity to undertake wide-ranging diversity and inclusion training, including a module that focused on ‘unconscious bias’. This training was a catalyst for me to reflect on how I approach gender equality within my team and across the business.

Being an advocate for gender equality has provided me an opportunity to help break down barriers within The Star, as well as the gaming and hospitality industry by challenging gender norms, engaging and encouraging other male leaders to be active participants in our gender equality initiatives, and demonstrate how it can benefit all people and genders.

What have you done, personally, to support gender equality?  

I have had the opportunity to reflect on how I approach gender equality in my day-to-day role – whether it be amplifying female voices within my team or supporting and encouraging team members to undertake new projects and opportunities where they may have been otherwise reluctant.

Being an active participant of The Star’s gender diversity working group, Balance@Star, allows me to also provide strategic input alongside our female leaders and committee members, ensuring our initiatives have the benefit of a variety of lenses and experiences.

Finally, I have become more conscious of my own interactions and decision making as a male leader – including the everyday language I use, becoming more empathetic and being more open to learning of the issues women face in the workplace.

In what ways have you assisted in normalising flexible working?  

Leading a diverse international team has meant that I was required to normalise flexible working, as we are collaborating across time zones. We recognise that not every team member is available all the time, and we need to be flexible to accommodate a variety of needs.

As an example, we recently ensured that a project team worked around one of the team member’s childcare obligations. This allowed that team member to continue to contribute to the project, while also balancing their personal and professional life.

It also demonstrated to the rest of our team that we have the capacity to provide a family-friendly environment without impacting the needs of the business, and hopefully empowering them to take flexi-work options when the need arises.

As we emerge from the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, I believe it’s important that we maintain the momentum created around flexible work arrangements.

Personally, I will seek to lead by example, and actively schedule days where I am working from home, which will enable me to spend more time with my partner and family.

In what ways has your language changed to become more gender inclusive?  

Recently, I stopped using male-dominated language such as “hey guys” and have shifted to more gender-inclusive words and phrase. While we may not have an explicitly negative intent, it can have an effect of reinforcing stereotypes.

Although there are instances where I may slip up, I find it an important part of my development to be continually conscious of how I speak, write and interact with those around me. Additionally, I think it’s also important to call out that same behaviour – whether in the moment, or in private with others male leaders who do the same.