In conversation with... Roxanne Ewing - Cromwell Funds Management
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Home In conversation with… Roxanne Ewing
November 29, 2023

In conversation with… Roxanne Ewing

Head of Corporate Operations, Cromwell Property Group

As one of the senior leaders within Cromwell, Roxanne has spent years helping guide the direction of the business – including fostering an environment where staff can thrive. As workplaces continue to evolve, Roxanne continues to explore how Cromwell can be a positive work environment.


1. It’s safe to say you’ve got a wide-ranging role at Cromwell, Roxanne – can you walk us through some of the key responsibilities you take on?

I do have a broad role here – and that means every day is different, which I love.

I am accountable for the People and Culture, Marketing, and Operations teams at Cromwell – so, in a nutshell, I’m responsible for ensuring that Cromwell has the right talent to execute on its strategy and deliver for our investors; execute on marketing strategies that attract and retain investors; and support the operations of the business from an office and administrative perspective.


2. You’ve been Cromwell’s Head of People and Culture in the past – and helped shape our current organisational values. How did that process come about?

Everyone has heard the old “culture eats strategy for breakfast” adage but, for me, culture eats everything; culture is everything. Without the right culture, an organisation cannot succeed – and values are at the core of that. Values are the handful of words that attempt to sum up the enormity of an organisation’s culture and vision.

It’s no secret that Cromwell has undergone a significant amount of evolution of the past few years, as all organisations do. Like any organisation, we’re not stagnant – and we had shifted significantly enough to justify redefining the terms that captured both who we were, and who we wanted to be.

And we could only achieve that by engaging everyone in the conversation. Over a three-month period, we engaged with our entire business – we asked people what our vision meant to them, who they felt we needed to be in order to achieve their best, as well as what our current strengths were that we could leverage. We also had transparent discussion about what activities we needed to stop doing.

It was a surprisingly simple process. There was general consensus about our strengths – we’re respectful, we care, we’re inclusive and we’ve got great people – as well as about those areas that we would need to focus on if we’re to achieve our vision: increased agility, collaboration, and innovation.

We solidified the values that we would live by during the next stage of our evolution as Collaborative, Progressive and Accountable.


We solidified the values that we would live by during the next stage of our evolution as Collaborative, Progressive and Accountable.
Roxanne Ewing – Head of Corporate Operations, Cromwell Property Group

3. Over the past five or six years in particular, there’s been an undeniable societal shift in attitudes on diversity and inclusion, gender equality, and cultural shifts/accepted norms. How does the ever-changing society attitude change translate into the workplace?

I think that shift started long before then, but certainly in more recent times we have seen government, regulatory bodies, talent, and the broader community really begin to hold organisations accountable for their role in diversity outcomes, as they should. Organisations, particularly large ones, have the power to make real and lasting change in this regard. And why wouldn’t they? It’s great for business.

We’re two years into our global five-year Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion journey, which has three simple goals; create a culture of respect and inclusion, foster and value diversity; and ensure equity.


4. What do you see as Cromwell’s role in the lives of our people as an employer? Is it as simple as just providing a place to work?

No, we want people to love their time at Cromwell and when they decide it’s time to move on, leave us as better people than when they joined.

For a lot of people, work significantly contributes to their meaning, their purpose, and we’re very keen to help them fulfil that. In fact, at one of our recent Leadership Summits, we focused on how we can help our people reach a state of engagement, by meeting their psychological needs – physiological, safety, belonging, esteem and self-actualisation.

At Cromwell, this encompasses providing for people’s basic needs with good remuneration, stability, and a physically and psychologically safe work environment. Creating a culture that is inclusive, allows people to bring their true self to work, and provides challenging and interesting work is critical.  It also involves giving frequent feedback and recognition and the ability for our people to continually grow and develop.  And finally, we look to give people a vision and a purpose they can connect with.

We know we play a huge part in people’s lives, and we take that very seriously. We’re far more than a place to work, we really want to help our people achieve their professional and personal purpose.


5. What operational targets has Cromwell set to improve ourself as an employer?

What gets measured, gets done – and we have plenty of targets! In the DEI space, and as part of our commitment to the Property Champions of Change Coalition, we’re using a 40:40:20 metric, a gender pay gap and a gender pay parity target to help keep ourselves accountable to our DEI Strategy.

For those that haven’t heard the term, 40:40:20 is about achieving 40% male, 40% female, and 20% other/discretionary gender representation in our workforce – we’re seeking to achieve that outcome at all levels of our organisation and we have already done so at the Executive, Senior Leader, Team Leader, and Emerging Leader levels.

Our target to reduce the gender pay gap year-on-year is an excellent measure of whether we’re achieving equality, as well as meeting our gender targets. Since setting this target, we’ve reduced our pay gap by over 20%, and we’re still making good progress.

We’ve also set ourselves an employee engagement target of 70%. Engagement is the level of emotional connection our employees have with our business and directly correlates with the level of discretionary effort they’re willing to exert. We saw a 9% increase in employee engagement over the course of 2023 and we’re hoping to keep that trend strong.

6. How has post-Covid hybrid working been addressed by Cromwell, and how are we shaping our office space to suit the needs of our workforce?

We have an ‘agile working’ approach at Cromwell. This approach dictates how and when our people work, and we recognise that agile working comes in all different shapes and sizes and will mean different things for different people and different roles.

Our people work flexible work hours, whether they be part-time, job-sharing, or simply altering their start and finish times to suit their lifestyle. It may also include different types of time-off and/or breaks from work altogether with our Career Break option. And, of course, it  pertains to location in terms to where work happens, whether that be in a Cromwell office, at an employee’s home or somewhere altogether different.

At first, we felt compelled to put all sorts of rules and guidelines around agile working, but we’ve stripped a lot of these away. Our culture is one of trust, accountability, and strong relationships between employees and their leaders. On the whole, we generally leave it to the employee and the people leader to agree an agile working approach for each individual; something that works for them.

Collaboration is one of the company values and we do love to see our people connecting and collaborating when it suits them. As a result, we’ve designed a new Brisbane office to cultivate more meaningful relationships between our teams. We’re taking up residence in one our DPF assets, 100 Creek Street. It’s a conveniently located facility with great amenities that align with what we want to offer our people.

The new office is designed specifically for our people – and around our agile working approach.  It’s designed to be light, green, comfortable, accessible and to have a space for every activity our people may want to undertake. We know that our people will work remotely when they want quiet, focused time and therefore we have put a focus on oversupplying formal and informal break out and collaboration spaces in the office. We also recognise that life doesn’t stop just because you’ve chosen to work from the office, so we have incorporated wellbeing spaces such as the wellbeing and multi-faith rooms. It’s a really exciting time for Cromwell and we can’t wait to welcome people to our new workspace in January 2024.

The new office is designed specifically for our people – and around our agile working approach.  It’s designed to be light, green, comfortable, accessible and to have a space for every activity our people may want to undertake.

7. Are there any initiatives that Cromwell has rolled out that you’re particularly proud of?

Yes! There’s too many to list here, really. I’ll focus on a few of the more recent ones.

Over the last 12 months, we have partnered with some causes that are really closed aligned with our culture, strategy and values.

This includes Relove – a charitable organisation that partners with corporate entities to rescue furniture and whitegoods and use them to furnish homes for people experiencing domestic violence or seeking asylum. As part of our participation in ‘16 Days of Activism’ against gender-based violence, we were able to help them furnish five homes as part of their 100 Homes Appeal.

Likewise, during the FIFA Women’s World Cup, we were the principal sponsor of the Moriarty Foundations’ Indigenous Footballer’s “call time on inequality” campaign. The John Morarity Football programme is Australia’s longest running, and most successful, Indigenous football initiative, with more than 2,000 Indigenous girls and boys participating.

I’m also really proud of our work in the gender equality space. We’re an active member of the Property Champions of Change Coalition, a property industry coalition working to achieve a significant and sustainable increase in the representation and equality of women in the property industry. Though we joined the charge relatively late in the game, we have made enormous headway and currently have some of the best family-friendly policies and the second lowest gender pay gap within the coalition.

And finally, I’m proud of the major cultural shift that we’ve undergone in the last 12 to 24 months. We’ve taken firm stances on our view of diversity, equity, inclusion and respect and we’ve put our money where our mouth is and significantly improved our flexibility, wellbeing, family-friendly, remuneration, and time off benefits.

8. What do you enjoy most about your role?

The fact that I get to do all the above! I have so much ability to influence the lives of our people, and those in our broader community. Absolutely every day is different, but the one thing they have all have in common is the power to make a difference, in one way or another.

I have been with Cromwell for a very long time and my role has never stagnated. I love the people that I work with in the Marketing, People and Culture and Operations teams as well as our broader Australian team and I’m inspired by what we’re here to do.