Morgan McKinley’s Joint Managing Directors Louise Langridge and Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg first developed the idea of the ‘Women in Leadership ’series after seeing the proactive approach the Male Champions of Change took in April 2010.
In 2014, Morgan McKinley launched its global Women in Leadership programme and seminars, which aimed to focus on developing leaders, empowering women and working with organisations to help create a culture that would enable women to thrive.
The first paper released in 2014, ‘What does it take to break through the glass ceiling?’ came off the back of Louise and Vanessa interviewing 40 of Australia’s top female leaders and drawing out key insights and experiences they had on their way to the top. It revealed a bloody and brutal uphill battle; “One successful female executive describes the sound of a women breaking through the glass ceiling [as]; BOOM! – Bloody, Obvious, Observable and Measurable.” And the statistics were just as damning with women holding only 10% of the ASX 200 top executive roles.
The insights triggered a landslide, with Louise and Vanessa holding the cold, hard facts that things needed to change. So the first round table was formed and a selection of executive leaders, male and female alike, were invited to contribute on what they thought needed to change to create equilibrium in the workforce.
In April 2015, the next whitepaper was released, ‘Moving the Needle on the Diversity Dial’ and the research results, although illustrating certain positive trends (women in the top 200 ASX exec positions rose to 19.4%), highlighted key areas of business that needed to change before the balance could be properly implemented, let alone maintained. Leaders realised that tangible results needed SMART goals and put their heads together to work out what measures needed to be taken by organisations to achieve the desired results.
And so this year Morgan McKinley formed a round table to access how these initial conversations had evolved, what had come of it and how much progression equality was making. In May, ten contributors; Jane Hawkins (AMP), Michelle Tierney (NAB), Chris Akayan (Mirvac), Claire Braund (Women on Boards), James Elliot (CBA), Juliet Bourke (Deloitte), Malini Raj (CBA), Rhonda Brighton-Hall (Independent Consultant), Samantha Crisford-Eade (NBN) and Michael Hamilton (Westpac) revealed how their organisations were managing and what observations they had made in the process.
Key highlights included the continued improvement of workplace flexibility, taking it out of the realms of ‘return to work mothers’ and making staff feel like there was a better level of flexibility to all. As it stands though, we have a long way to go in terms of vital support points for women. Issues still raised were those of role models and sponsorship from other women in positions of power, male led recruitment drives due to lack of teaching hiring managers how to recruit, the huge gap still existing in salary differences, and the worry that companies are hiring but not promoting just to ‘tick boxes’.
As one can clearly see from the discussions, we have a long way to go, but at least we have a clearer view of the landscape today as it sits, before we shape it moving forwards.