I’m part of a group of Australian CEOs and other leaders called the Male Champions of Change. Our goal is to increase gender diversity in the Australian public and private sectors, including the number of women in board positions and senior executive roles.
This week we released our 2014 progress update, which you can read here.
The Male Champions of Change group was formed in 2010 by Australia’s Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, out of a recognition that gender inequality was harming not just individuals and companies, but the Australian economy as a whole. To quote Lieutenant General David Morrison, Australia’s Chief of Army: “We’ve been failing because we haven’t been making the best use of 51 per cent of the Australian population in terms of talent.”
He was talking about the army, but the same is true of business. Nations and companies can’t afford to ignore the leadership, knowledge, skills and innovation that women bring to the workforce.
The organisations led by Male Champions of Change employ more than 400,000 people, including more than 170,000 women. Closing the gender gap is part of our responsibility to those employees and to the Australian community. As Elizabeth Broderick said in a powerful speech last year: “To conclude the achievement of gender equality cannot sit on the shoulders of women alone. When we take shared ownership, that’s when we stride forward together.”
Ultimately, the work of the Male Champions of Change has to be about results. Today’s report shows good progress in some areas, and ground to make up in others.
That includes Qantas. We have strong representation of women in executive positions: the recent appointment of Georgina Sutton as Jetstar chief pilot is a great example. We also do well when it comes to women in non-managerial positions and in graduate recruitment of talented young women. On the other hand, we have room for improvement in middle management positions.
The introduction to the report states that “championing change on gender equality cannot wait until we can all claim to be perfect role models.” In other words, the fact that there is more to do should only make us more determined to find solutions.
Like my fellow Champions of Change, I’ll be doing everything I can in 2015 to ensure that Qantas is a workplace where women can thrive, grow and lead to their maximum potential.
This article is published in collaboration with LinkedIn. Publication does not imply endorsement of views by the World Economic Forum.
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Author: Alan Joyce is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at Qantas Airways Limited.
Image: A woman is silhouetted next to a solar panel display.REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao.