Women in leadership: lessons from Australian companies leading the way

17 November 2017

The Business Council teamed up with the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and McKinsey & Company and found Australian companies that lead their industry in women’s leadership representation do 10 things in common.

We wanted to get behind all the activity around workplace gender equality in order to understand what’s really working.

There’s a wealth of content out there on women in leadership, but not a lot of evidence-based work that points to factors that are proven to work. Our intention was to create that evidence-base, and shape it into guidance for other organisations.

To do this, we analysed last three years of workplace gender reporting data and conducted over 40 interviews in companies with a higher than average representation of women in leadership roles.

There was a high degree of commonality in the formula of actions high performers were taking, so much so that we were able to distill this into a recipe of ten things the best companies are doing.

A closer look at the 10 practices that increase the number of women in top roles


CASE FOR CHANGE 1.Build a strong business case for change
ROLE MODELLING 2. Role-model a commitment to diversity, including with business partners
  3. Redesign roles and work to enable flexible work and normalise uptake across levels and genders
  4. Actively sponsor rising women
REINFORCEMENT MECHANISMS 5. Set a clear diversity aspiration, backed up by accountability
  6. Support talent through life transitions
  7. Ensure the infrastructure is in place to support a more inclusive and flexible workplace
  8. Challenge traditional views of merit in recruitment and evaluation
CAPABILITY BUILDING 9. Invest in frontline leader capabilitiesto drive cultural change
  10. Develop rising women and ensure experience in key roles


This is the first evidence-based playbook to educate Australian businesses about what big business is doing to improve their performance.

Download report here

Read the media release here


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