Business meeting

A peak business body is urging the chief executives of Australia’s top companies to ensure more women reach their senior ranks.

The Business Council of Australia (BCA), which represents 120 of Australia’s largest companies, has released a detailed guide titled “Increasing the Number of Women in Senior Executive Positions”.

The council’s goal is to ensure women make up 50 per cent of senior executives at member firms in the next 10 years.

In July, the BCA released an Action Plan for Enduring Prosperity, outlining several goals including the gender target.

Now, the council has released detailed checklists to encourage chief executives to reconsider unconscious biases that underpin merit-based recruitment and promotion practices.

While many companies have equal opportunity policies to encourage women into senior roles, BCA president Tony Shepherd says there is a strong interest in knowing what more can be done.

In a letter to members, Mr Shepherd says the kit will “minimise the potential for inherent biases in the critical stages of recruitment, selection, retention and promotion processes”.

“The low representation of women in senior levels of management cannot continue,” Mr Shepherd said.

“We risk not getting the best talent for the job and women not reaching their true potential. Such a situation is not good for individuals, business or the economy.”

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick has also been working with 22 CEOs and industry leaders from Australia’s largest companies and government organisations.

“More and more strong leaders are understanding that having gender diverse teams is actually a leadership issue, and that they need to be reasonably interventionist in the strategies they put in place to ensure that women can have the same opportunities and rise to the top in the same way that men can,” Ms Brodericktold The World Today.

“Most of them are recognising that if they just leave it to chance, it won’t happen, for a whole variety of reasons.”

The group, called the “male champions of change” will release its report on gender equality in the workplace tomorrow.


Source: Justine Parker and Sarah Farnsworth, ABC News

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