Administrator Julie Swett prioritizes inclusion in her personal and professional life. After facing gender bias for much of her career, Julie is dedicated to celebrating differences, challenging prejudices, and building up others. She shared her journey with us, opening up about obstacles she has faced, her fears as she ages, and the inclusion she’s found at Aveanna.
Unfortunately, at a young age the gender bias started. Even as a young girl, I faced expectations related to my gender. There were comments about my looks or my sexuality, and opinions developed only by what they saw on the outside. It made me feel like that was all that was important. I knew that I had worth and more to offer than just my outward looks.
Gender bias is not dead, but hopefully dying! I have heard so many sexist comments and opinions in my life. Women are still objectified in person, in print, and on the big screen. Some people still have some very outdated ideas that women cannot or should not be in leadership or management roles. Women are not paid as much as men and are not promoted at an equal rate as men – there is still work to do. An older man is recognized as distinguished or handsome, but an older woman is just old. As I continue to age, that has been in the back of my mind – will people value me for my experience or dismiss me because of my age?
I am proud to be a woman because of my strong instincts. My husband says that I am so much more in tune with situations and scenarios that he doesn’t even recognize or identify. Women are very strong and resilient. We bear so much on our shoulders, with responsibilities for not only ourselves but our families, friends, communities, and coworkers, balancing home life as well as work life. It is like you actually have two full-time jobs – your work and your home. Even though it was not my choice to be a woman, I am proud of my career, my education, my relationships, my family, and how I achieved those things despite societal oppressions.
I believe that our differences are what make us interesting – I can’t imagine how boring it would be if we all looked, spoke, and thought the same. No one is better than another; we are all equal but different. We each deserve to be treated like the wonderful, unique beings we are. None of us is perfect at everything. I strongly believe we should celebrate others’ talents, rather than tearing them down for the area in which they may not be as strong. It is very important to me to be fair. We all know life is not fair, but we can treat each other fairly. Our differences also make us stronger.
Since joining the Aveanna family, the whole company has presented itself as inspiring. First, from just identifying Inclusion as a Core Value. Then by displaying exceptional acceptance and transparency in its daily workings. Aveanna is so open to gender equality with its roles. It is not a “good ole boys” club, but the staff from the top to the bottom of the ladder are very diverse. There are different sexes, races, genders, ages, etc. – it is like a rainbow!
I am so proud to be part of a company that recognizes the talents of the individual instead of holding onto some antiquated beliefs and perceptions. Aveanna doesn’t just list inclusion as a Core Value – they live it. Aveanna has shown a great example of not following those outdated beliefs. We all should have a chance to have our voices heard, a chance to get that promotion, a chance to realize the dreams we have in life.
Here, I can relax knowing that I am not judged by my outward appearance, that I am going to be equally considered for a promotion, and that my opinion matters. I can focus on being successful at my job and leading my office and the company to success, without being subjected to comments and actions that seek to break you down rather than build you up. Aveanna offers many opportunities for support, growth, and self-care with the DEI groups that it offers. I have been able to take part in this offering and look forward to this opportunity as support and reinforcement.