Long a pioneer in supporting gender equality, Westpac Group in Australia recognized early on the need to create internal resonance by ensuring a workplace where women can thrive. The company is now a global leader in diversity and inclusion, reaching 50% women in leadership in 2017, defined as branch managers and above; and being listed in the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index for the past 4 years. The Financial Alliance for Women’s upcoming Case Study on Westpac chronicles their journey and distills the best practices that have emerged in the process. Here, we preview three key takeaways from the report:
In 2010, then-CEO Gail Kelly publicly announced that Westpac was going to increase its representation of women in leadership to 40 percent. They achieved this goal in 2 years, and in 2012 Kelly upped the ante once again: publicly committing to a 50/50 gender split in leadership by 2017, the company’s 200th anniversary – which they achieved and have maintained since. Having stretch targets and announcing them publicly made the bank more accountable.
The Inclusion & Diversity team created dashboards to establish baselines for how women were entering, exiting and rising across all areas and levels of the bank. Each business unit was assigned targets based on their individual baselines, and gender diversity metrics became part of the bank’s regular measurement and reporting. These metrics were also incorporated into the scorecards of all the bank’s leaders, with hits on remuneration if not achieved. Mainstreaming gender diversity and inclusion KPIs made increasing representation of women in leadership non-negotiable.
Moving toward a gender inclusive culture required getting buy in from the top down; creating internal champions to communicate the benefits across the company; implementing programs tailored to boost women’s visibility; investing in recruiting, developing and supporting women in their careers; and creating flexible working arrangements for all employees were just some of the best practices in Westpac’s systems approach.