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Veronica Colvin
Acumen Republic
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Media Release



Just one in five organisations have programs in place to improve representation of women in leadership

3 April 2014 – A report into workplace diversity released today by Hudson shows that initiatives to improve representation of women in leadership are failing to make in-roads, with only one third of organisations with programs in place meeting their set targets.

Just over half (56.5%) of HR hiring managers1 across Australia and New Zealand reported that increasing diversity is a key strategic objective of their organisation. Yet only one third (33.5%) of these, or one in five of all employers surveyed, have specific initiatives in place to improve representation of women in leadership. Of this group only 36.3% reported that their organisation’s initiatives are meeting or exceeding set targets.

Simon Moylan, Executive General Manager, Talent Management Asia Pacific at Hudson, said:

“It comes as no surprise that many diversity programs fail. Rather than aligning to the company strategy and supporting long-term outcomes, initiatives are often run in isolation with vague targets and little measurement.”

“If you put the diversity issue aside for a moment and look at the two long term challenges facing businesses in this country, they are: first, having enough of the right talent to deliver what an organisation needs to achieve; and second, growing inclusive, collaborative leaders to transform organisations at the pace the market is changing.

“Increasing women in leadership roles meets both of these objectives in terms of the size of the talent pool and the unique skills and style they bring to leadership roles. Any organisation that fails to optimise this talent pool is destined to fall behind its competitors.”

Building the case that female leadership delivers results

The new Hudson research supports continuing data that women in leadership directly contribute to an organisation’s bottom line.

Research from McKinsey2, for example, has shown that companies with the most gender diverse management teams outperform their peers, with a 48% average increase in earnings and 10% average return on equity.

Despite this, and despite women comprising nearly half of the working population (45.6%), only one-third of Australian management positions and 9.2% of executive management positions in ASX 500 companies are held by women.

Moving toward targeted development programs

Development of diversity policies have increased since the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) guidelines were set by the Federal Government in 2012 and the ASX Corporate Governance Council. These require organisations to adopt and disclose diversity policy and measurable objectives relating to gender, or explain why they have not done so.

While the Hudson research highlighted many diversity programs are not meeting targets, not all are doomed to fail, says Mr Moylan.

“For those organisations looking to enhance their promotion of diversity internally, the creation of a talent pipeline to identify, support and secure women in leadership is critical.

“Research shows that women often minimise their own contributions and this, combined with a greater focus on their family, can result in women choosing to opt out of a business career.

“Organisations should take a strategic approach and introduce targeted development programs which incorporate detailed analysis of the challenges and aspirations of their existing talent. By working carefully with employees and implementing development programs which provide a well-defined and transparent career path, organisations can help remove barriers for women leaders. The incorporation of mentoring programs with a specialist focus on networking and coaching are also highly effective in supporting women into leadership positions.”

Interest and positive sentient toward development programs are certainly there: the new Hudson research revealed 56.1% of employers with no initiatives in place felt their organisation would benefit from focusing on a women-in-leadership program.

The timing, however, needs to intensify. In closing, Mr Moylan said:

“Australian organisations are failing in their support of diversity and women in leadership and in doing so are failing to take advantage of an essential corporate performance driver. The time is now for organisations to take steps to develop initiatives that will unlock women’s potential and drive successful business outcomes into the future.”


1 Hudson surveyed 400 Human Resource professionals as part of the broader Hudson Report in early 2014 2 Data from 2003-2005. Women Matter, by McKinsey


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Hudson is a global talent solutions company with expertise in leadership and specialised recruitment, contracting solutions, recruitment process outsourcing, talent management, outplacement and eDiscovery. We help our clients and candidates succeed by leveraging our expertise, deep industry and market knowledge, and proprietary assessment tools and techniques. With more than 2,000 people in 20 countries, and relationships with millions of specialised professionals, we bring an unparalleled ability to match talent with opportunities by assessing, recruiting, developing and engaging the best and brightest people for our clients. We combine broad geographic presence, world-class talent solutions and a tailored, consultative approach to help businesses and professionals achieve higher performance and outstanding results. More information is available at

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