Support for women to join senior leadership ranks

Supporting more women into senior leadership roles was the focus of a recent roundtable convened by newly appointed Minister for Women and Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash and President of Chief Executive Women (CEW), Diane Smith-Gander.

The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) attended the October forum, alongside leaders from business, government and the private sector. The meeting sought to identify opportunities for business and government to collaborate on how to better support women to attain senior leadership roles.

“The roundtable was a positive and productive forum. Views were shared on board and diversity targets, strategies to drive greater female representation in senior management, and structural challenges to workforce participation,” says Louise Petschler, General Manager of Advocacy at the AICD.

Rhian Richardson, AICD’s Board Diversity Manager, adds that the AICD continues to push for greater gender diversity on Australian boards. “We are calling for the boards of ASX 200 companies to commit to a minimum of 30 per cent female representation by the end of 2018 and support this target by becoming members of the Australian chapter of the 30% Club.”

Minister Cash used the forum to announce the federal government’s commitment to help fund CEW scholarships and fellowships to support women’s participation and leadership in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) industries. The AICD has also partnered with government on scholarships to support governance education for women.                                   

The event was the first in a series of meetings that will address the barriers and discuss best practice for supporting women into senior leadership positions. The federal government has stated that outcomes from these discussions will inform economic reform agenda.

The roundtable also coincided with the release of the latest statistics on women on federal government boards, where the headline figures showed a decline against the government’s gender diversity target of 40 per cent. AICD’s Acting Chair, Yasmin Allen FAICD, and Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, John Brogden, have written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, urging a recommitment to the government’s gender diversity targets as a priority.

For more information, see:

For practical guidance on increasing gender diversity in your organization, see McKinsey & Company article, Gender equality: Taking stock of where we are.