Grooming women for the corporate world


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31-03-2010 05:49 PM


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Radio National


31-03-2010 05:49 PM



31-03-2010 06:59 PM

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2010-03-31 17:49:01

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LAHEY, Katie, (BCA)




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Grooming women for the corporate world -

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MARK COLVIN: Australia, a country with a woman as Governor General and another as deputy Prime
Minister still has relatively few women in top corporate jobs.

Westpac Chief Gail Kelly's probably the best known but overall only about one senior executive in
10 is a woman.

The Government's voiced its concerns about the issue and now the Business Council of Australia has
come up with a plan for change.

Di Bain reports.

DI BAIN: Katie Lahey heads up an organisation that is 97 per cent male. That organisation is the
Business Council of Australia.

She wants to change that imbalance and is spearheading a campaign to get more female representation
in Australia's corporate circles.

KATIE LAHEY: I actually said to the rest of the BCA membership today that I feel absolutely
optimistic. There is something, there's a wind of change and it's just starting to take off. The
attention needs to now focus in on that pipeline; how do we get women from the middle of our
organisations, where they're very well represented, up to what we call the C suite.

DI BAIN: The BCA has come up with a 12 month pilot project to mentor women into leadership roles.

It wants the Chief Executives of Australia's top companies to hand pick talented women.

They're then required to mentor them and open doors to allow them to climb the corporate ladder.

The General Manager of McDonald's in Australia is Catriona Noble.

She says the fast food chain made a deliberate decision to employ more women a few years ago and
it's helped the business.

CATRIONA NOBLE: 10 years ago when Guy Russo was CEO he deliberately set out to say we're not
representative of our staff base nor our customer base and somehow that feels like we are not
achieving the best business results, nor being the best employer based upon that. So yes there was
a target to go out and say we need to have better gender diversity and so yes it was very
deliberate but I'd have to say in recent years we no longer require that kind of targeting because
it just self perpetuates after a certain point in time.

DI BAIN: There's a number of companies which have agreed to contribute, including Woolworths, The
Commonwealth Bank and Stockland property group.

Some of those company's CEO's lined up with the BCA today to make the announcement.

The move is timely because there's been speculation that the Government was considering making
regulatory changes to force businesses to take on and promote more women.

The BCA's President Graham Bradley denied it's a rearguard response.

GRAHAM BRADLEY: No I don't think that's the motivation here at all. I think as Katie has said this
is an issue that's been on the table of businesses and our organisation for many years and we just
weren't seeing enough progress. And so we looked at it to say what can we do? We're a CEO member
organisation, other people are doing things in relation to directors, what can we do that'll make a
constructive contribution and as I've said we found very spontaneous support from our membership
for it.

DI BAIN: Leo D'Angelo Fisher, a financial commentator for business group BRW, says its fresh
approach to those put forward by other women's lobby groups.

He says in the past some organisations have wanted companies to commit to a quota or number of
female leaders.

LEO D'ANGELO FISHER: Quotas suggest that there's systematic discrimination or prejudice and I've
never seen any research that suggests that's the case. So, I think it is appropriate that we seek a
greater representation of women on boards, but rather than look to quotas, which I think is the
easy solution, we should be looking at why that is the case.

MARK COLVIN: Financial writer Leo D'Angelo Fisher ending that report from Di Bain. .