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Women in Leadership: How we've continuously placed more senior female leaders

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Written by Shaun Stevens
Feb 25, 2020

2019 was the year of female leaders in our Sydney office. We met some truly inspiring and impressive leaders and helped a number of organisations tackle the challenge of gender diversity across their leadership teams.

A huge increase in female leadership placements

Whilst this is a specific case study of hiring female leaders in Australia, our teams across Ireland, the UK, Mainland China, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore all have excellent track records of placing women into leadership roles within their respective markets.

We are delighted to share that 77% of all senior Strategy, Product, Digital, Transformation, Operations & Customer placements made by our Sydney team in 2019 were female. This number was a 74% increase on 2018 for the same level of roles. 

There are a number of factors that should be considered when looking at this success:

Firstly, our global Women in Leadership programme kicked off over 6 years ago, spearheaded in Sydney by our two Managing Directors: Louise Langridge and Vanessa Harding-Farrenberg. They believe in equal opportunity for those aspiring leaders and have created a culture both internally and externally to enable budding female leaders to put their hands up for these type of roles. This has, in turn, meant that Morgan McKinley is considered a trusted advisor when it comes to females looking to take the next step in their career journey at a juncture that can be particularly daunting. 

Our blog series, titled 'Women in Leadership', offered female leaders an opportunity to share their stories of success, inspiring others to follow whichever path they wanted. 

Internally, we reflected on all aspects of the hiring process and put together a ‘Hiring for success’ e-book covering topics such as writing inclusive position descriptions and how to attract, then retain, the best people for your organisation. This, in turn, allowed organisations to ensure they were running recruitment processes that would be truly appealing to both males and females. 

We partnered with Thrive Advisory, a boutique leadership firm who customise leadership support to enable leaders, teams, and organisations to thrive. We also produced an interesting piece of research that surveyed over 1,300 individuals on why people joined and then subsequently left organisations.

Despite this movement, gender disparity remains

So whilst it seems the number of females in leadership positions is increasing, is this greater balance reflected across all aspects of gender parity in the workforce? 

We recently conducted some research into the global perceptions of gender equality in the workplace. There were 2,500 responses to our short survey from locations including Australia, Canada, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Ireland, Japan, Singapore and the UK. While establishing greater gender equality in the workplace has supposedly been a key area of focus over recent years, it seems organisations across the world have still got a way to go. 34% of our respondents believe their current employer doesn’t do enough to ensure gender equality, 39% don’t think men and women are paid equally within their organisation and less than half (47%) think men and women have equal progression opportunities.

It’s not all bad news though; 59% of respondents believe there is more workplace gender equality in their country compared to 5 years ago.

Continue to head in the right direction

The Australian Government's ‘Workplace gender equality data’ suggests there is still plenty of work to do: A 14% pay gap remains between the average Australian female/male monthly salary. 

However, an article recently published shared some encouraging news about Shemara Wikramanayake, CEO of Macquarie Bank, who is the first female ever to top the table as the ‘best paid CEO in Australia’. To put this into context, however, Shemara was one of only 4 females on the list of 50. Whilst this is a highly visible step in the right direction, we are clearly still a long way workplace gender equality. 

Finally, another encouraging sign has been the number of organisations committing to a more equal and attractive parent leave policy. A good example of this is from Bain & Company, a top tier global strategy consulting firm who have recently announced in the UK, regardless of gender, a policy which includes up to 52 weeks of leave with the first 26 weeks fully paid. This, in turn, gives families more choice when it comes to planning and career opportunities, certainly giving females comfort that they can be a mother and a leader in the workplace. 

We are looking forward to what the coming year brings for the aspiring females we are lucky enough to engage with on a daily basis and hope to help more leaders of the future take the next step in their career!

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