Opinion: How to encourage women to apply for the top jobs

by Contributor23 May 2017
Men continue to hold the majority of Australia’s top leadership positions. Sharon Ardley explains what CEOs and HR leaders can do to encourage more women to apply for senior leadership roles

Confronting evidence shows women aren’t applying for the senior level roles in the same numbers as men, which is surprising considering, when they do apply they have a significant chance of getting the job. 

According to the latest gender workplace statistics compiled by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, women represent just 15.4% of CEOs and 27.4% of key management positions in non-public businesses. Alarmingly, 25.1% of businesses that reported their gender statistics have no females in key management roles. 

In the public sector the data is only marginally better. The State of the Public Sector in Victoria Report 2015-2016 reported 39% of executives in the public sector were women. At first glance this appears to be in good proportion, however, when you take into account that 67% of the total Victorian public sector’s workforce are female. The number of females are there - they’re just not progressing to an executive level.

Because women are not inherently wired for self-promotion, they’re not putting themselves forward for opportunities, thus missing out on the career advancement their male co-workers will achieve. With additional encouragement and resources women can gain the confidence to put their name forward for the top jobs.

To address this gender issue we must equip women with the skills they need to gain confidence in their leadership journey.

How managers can encourage women to apply for the top leadership roles
  • Provide stretch assignments and secondments to develop skills, knowledge and confidence in more senior positons
  • Support career development by providing executive coaching and mentoring
  • Offer data driven analysis of strengths and areas for development to target specific development needs
Through extensive work in the public sector, Davidson believe it’s important to shine a spotlight on exceptional female leaders who are in the Victorian public sector and assist their career growth by highlighting their work contribution and raising their profiles. To achieve this, Davidson has launched the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) initiative. 

These women are role models for other females within the public sector and play an active role in delivering vibrant and sustainable workplaces. 

Entries are now open and nominations can be submitted for the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria). Entries close Monday June 12, 2017, for more information go to: www.publicsectorwomen.com.au

For further information about the Top 50 Public Sector Women list or the Davidson Leadership Acceleration Program please contact Sharon Ardley: Sharon.ardley@davidsonwp.com

About the author
Sharon Ardley is General Manager of HR Consulting (VIC) at Davidson