Westpac study uncovers pervasive ‘unconscious bias’

Thursday 14th August 2014

The latest research on gender bias conducted by Westpac reveals that, although male westpark-logo-homepageprofessionals in Australia have a high level of awareness of the issues facing women in the workforce, female professionals still face gender-based challenges in the office. For example, the Westpac Women of Influence Report found that 43% of men believe women have to work harder to receive professional recognition, and 61% see the board room as a patriarchal institution. Still, 46% of the professional women surveyed said that they had been affected by unconscious bias in the workplace.

“Recognition from both genders about the barriers women face at work shows just how far we’ve progressed in this conversation,” said Larke Riemer, Westpac’s Director of Women’s Markets. “Gender issues aren’t just women’s issues; they are community issues because they impact productivity, companies’ bottom lines and the nation’s overall economy. So it’s really up to employers, employees, colleagues, government, partners and society to address this and find solutions.”

A majority of both men and women surveyed said they would like to see increased awareness of both unconscious bias and discriminatory behavior at work, but respondents offered no clear solution for countering them, with responses varying from “Ignore it/get on with the job” (9% women, 5% men) to the most popular response: “I don’t know” (15% of women, 16% of men).

“This new study highlights the importance of initiatives such as the 100 Women of Influence Awards, which profile influential female leaders and help to promote positive role models,” Ms. Riemer said. “This is just one element in the equation that can help assist us to create workplaces in Australia where recognition and participation will be based on merit over gender.”

The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards program celebrates outstanding and influential women across corporate, community, arts, philanthropy, public and not-for-profit sectors. Entries close Sunday, August 10, and all Australians are invited to nominate the influential women in their lives. Entry forms can be downloaded at

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