A call for change
There are too few women in top leadership positions in Australian companies, and men and women alike are calling for change. This is the position of management consultants Bain & company that found 75 per cent of the Australian business community believe gender diversity should be a strategic imperative for its organisation.
There is a strong moral and commercial imperative in the Australian talent-constrained environment. In addition, decision-making effectiveness in organisations is improved by diverse perspectives.
There are signs that Australian companies are making progress, but it is slow. Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) quidelines require companies to implement and report on progress of gender diversity targets so this provides both focus and motivation on addressing gender equality.
When women are asked “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” they are only 5 per cent likely. Men however are more optimistic about women’s opportunities giving their companies a 36 per cent likeliness of recommendation according to Bain's Net Promoter scores.
Would you recommend the company to your friends?
Being in the recruitment sector, Where Women Work hears daily the lament of companies struggling to recruit more women, expecially at senior ranks. But if only all companies asked their women that one question “How likely are you to recommend this company to a friend or colleague?” then they could whether their management are a cause of the problem because cultural change begins at the top.
Bain found that women who are promoters of their organisations as a good place for women to work are three to four times more likely than detractors to believe that their companies’ leadership shows visible commitment to gender parity. Also, they are three or four times more likely to believe that their organisation has sought broad input on the root causes of gender inequality and has put real effort against this issue.
One of the biggest barriers to women's career progression is a company's lack of flexibility at the points in her career where she needs it most. Clever companies like Accenture and Citi have certainly done their maths and know that the cost of supporting flexible working compared with losing brilliant talent is a no brainer. Extensive policies, practices and award recognition differentiate these companies from others. That's why women choose them over competitors and remain there for a long and rewarding career.
Top 5 criteria for comparing companies
When researching and comparing large companies to work for, these are the top 5 criteria to look for:
1. Is there a suitable proportion of women on the board?
2. Is there a good percentage of senior women working in the company who have family responsibilities?
3. Does the company have a Diversity & Inclusion team, women's network and dedicated gender champions?
4. Does the company have policies and initiatives actively trying to recruit, retain and advance women?
5. Do they show effort of recruiting in places aimed at attracting more women?
6. Are case studies available that showcase their women and the work they do?
7. Do women stay there a long time? (i.e use LinkedIn to research this)