Women in Leadership – in their own words
Thursday, 7 March 2013 — As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, Ernst & Young has today released a fourth report in its Women in Leadership series – Women in Leadership - in their own words, examining the issues of female representation in the workplace.
While Australian corporates are fully aware of the business imperative for advancing women and many organisations are proactively working towards this goal, change is still slow.
2012 marked the tenth year of measurement of women on boards and in executive roles in Australia and despite increased awareness over this time; women still hold less than 10% of executive positions in ASX 200 companies and only 6% of line management positions. Similarly in the Australian public sector, while the female representation figures are better, they are misleading.
According to Ernst & Young’s Worldwide Index of Women as Public Sector Leaders 2012, 37% of leaders are women, putting Australia in second place globally. However considering that Governments have had equal opportunity, affirmative action policies and meritorious appointment processes in place for many years, this statistic should be better.
“The issue of greater female representation in senior roles is one that is inextricably linked with the productivity of an organisation and the country as a whole,” says Edyta Torpy, Ernst & Young’s Diversity and Inclusiveness Leader.
To get to the heart of the issue, Ernst & Young interviewed 15 successful female leaders and asked them what has enabled their success with a view to generate discussion to support the change agenda.
“Our campaign is focused on ensuring that the stories of individual women are showcased as catalysts for change. By talking directly to women and hearing their stories, we are able to better understand the real issues facing women in the workplace today.”
“Every woman has a unique story to tell. Each story has the potential to inspire others and generate much needed discourse about how to better leverage the unique strengths that women bring to the work place,” she said.
The women interviewed for the report, ranged from non-executive directors to business owners, CEO’s, CFO’s and leaders in the public and not-for-profit sectors.
The report highlights both the enablers to women’s career success as well as some of the common blockages they face including unconscious bias, rigid work hours, unaffordable childcare and flexible work practices.
“Our research found that there are some fundamental changes that need to occur across these areas before we are likely to start seeing real change. We need to ‘up the ante’ and start doing things differently at a government, company and an individual level,” Edyta said.
“Women in positions of influence also have a very important role to play in terms of stewardship – creating a better workplace for future generations - and all the women we spoke to felt strongly about leaving a positive legacy in the workplace,” she said.
Full transcripts and filmed interviews are available to view at: ey.com/au/women.
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