HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Alice Young, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at IKEA Australia

Alice Young is the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Lead at IKEA Australia, a startup role where she leads the company’s drive for equality.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’ve been working in HR for around twenty years in both global and country roles based out of London and Sydney, with a stint in Sri Lanka as well volunteering for the UN. 

I’ve consciously chosen to work in both the commercial and non-profit sectors, with brands such as Apple and Amnesty International that share a strong values alignment. 

Currently I’m with IKEA in a start-up role as the country’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Leader which allows me to exercise my passion for equality in a values led commercial organization.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Varied!  A recent workday included a visit to one of our stores for the graduation ceremony for participants in our pilot refugee work placement programme, followed by a remote workshop with the leadership team of one of our Queensland stores on Gender Equality.

After that I was reviewing proposed NSW legislation on a bill on Religion, and finished up with a call with my global team about a new training package.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

 Yes it does, and indeed I’ve been working from home due to Covid since March 2020.  This gives me great flexibility but I definitely miss human interaction working from home the whole time. 

I’m quite disciplined about being in work mode vs non-work mode, however I’ve found that I’ve slipped into longer days now that I’m not commuting.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work life balance means that I’m able to have some choice over when and how I work as long as I’m delivering and am productive, AND that work doesn’t take over my life. 

It’s very tempting when working from home to turn on your laptop at 7am, but I make sure I exercise first thing in the morning, get a coffee with my husband, and then start working usually at 8.15 am. 

I always factor in a break for lunch (I’m a monster without food!), and try and down tools by 6 pm, but always 6.30 pm unless I have a call with Europe (usually once a week).

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

 Everything has been driven by COVID in the past 12 months!  So I’m no longer commuting which is great, but there is too much of a good thing – I miss the office and engaging with others, so am looking forward to going back to the office 1 or 2 days a week.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

So many!  But current favourites are:

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

The Calm app, that’s great and really does what it says on the tin.

I’m also an Apple Music subscriber which I love as it means I can just try all sorts of different music which I wouldn’t do if I was paying for each album.

My iPhone, my AirPods, my iPad – should I stop now? 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?  

Turia Pitt.  There’s something about a near death experience that puts life in perspective and makes you grateful for what you have.  Her autobiography Everything to Live For: The Inspirational Story is very moving.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

It’s been said over and over again, but “work to live, don’t live to work” (even if you love what you do)! 

About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.