Westpac has announced plans to significantly increase the number of women in management roles at the bank.
Speaking on Monday at the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Westpac CEO Gail Kelly said that the firm’s aim was to ensure women were in 40 per cent of roles in the upper echelons of the business by 2014.
Currently women hold 23 per cent of management positions.
“I am encouraged by the momentum we have in Australia to actually put this issue fairly and firmly on the agenda and make some real progress,” Kelly said.
Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, executive director at the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women, commended the announcement.
She told HR Leader she would like to see the four-year plan replicated across Australia’s top 200 companies to restore some parity for women.
“Without targets such as this we will need to have a quota system. [Westpac and Gail Kelly] are sending out the right signals to other employers to follow suit,” Rodgers-Healey said.
Westpac’s announcement follows Commonwealth Bank’s plan to have 35 per cent of management roles held by women by 2014.
Nareen Young, CEO of Diversity Council Australia, said that these targets were “absolutely realistic” as both banks have had long-term policies in operation to address gender equality.
“These announcements show that banks are getting serious. Clearly there will need to be cultural change but both have had programs in place for years, so this is a natural progression given the community momentum at present.
“We hope this will have a cascade effect on the financial services industry,” she said.