Catching up with Social Leader of the Year – April Whittam

Earlier this year, April Whittam took home the award for Social Leader of the Year at the 2018 Women in Industry Awards. April has been a pioneer in developing numerous community investment strategies throughout her career.

Her work at Aurizon has resulted in the creation and implementation of their flagship corporate social responsibility program, the Aurizon Community Giving Fund. Upon establishing the Fund, it has been recognised internationally and to date, the program has distributed to over 300 charities nationally.

April says that to her, social responsibility means “simply, doing what is right. I have been passionate about business ethics since my university days and social responsibility fits right into this space. For me, the phrase is about acknowledging accountability for the impact of one’s choices (be that an individual or a company) on society.”

“For companies this relates to being able to conduct business sustainability with sensitivity and ethical obligations on a range of issues (such as fair labor practices, pollution reduction initiatives, environmentally sustainable initiatives, employee giving programs). With the rise of corporate social responsibility on a global scale, it is exciting to see that it is becoming a staple of business efforts – not outside but rather as a core value or purpose.”

“On a personal note, it also can relate to individuals. We all can contribute to society through programs such as volunteering, donations to charities, conserving energy (as some examples).”

Reflecting on taking home the Social Leader of the Year Award, April said she was taken aback when her name was announced. “My fellow Women in Leadership nominees in the category are outstanding in their fields and their contributions to their communities exceptional. Upon reflection, winning the Award has been two-fold. Firstly, it has meant that the work that I contribute on a daily basis is having a positive change in our communities and the strategy and programs are well regarded and effective. Secondly, I was honoured winning with the Award celebrating Women in Leadership. The mining, transport, logistics sector is predominantly male so to stand out in a field that I am passionate about has been both very humbling and rewarding.”

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