What is the focus of the strategy?2020-11-17T11:28:50+11:00

The Champions of Change strategy recognises that a long-term focus on achieving gender-balance at every level of their organisations is critical to advancing more women into leadership at Executive and Board level.

Members specifically focus on:

  • Listening to and learning from people within their organisations to identify high impact actions to accelerate change
  • Achieving gender equality and advancing more and diverse women into leadership within their organisations
  • Creating the conditions and culture that enable all employees to thrive in the workplace
  • Working together to shift systems of inequality in specific sectors and the community more broadly
  • Sharing resources, progress and results freely and widely so that many more organisations can benefit from this work.
What differentiates the strategy?2020-12-03T17:35:41+11:00

CEO-level leaders engage ‘head and heart’ in the strategy by committing their time, visible leadership, and accountability for their organisation’s progress on gender equality.

The strategy relies on each Champion’s deep, personal commitment to gender equality. They listen to the experiences and ideas of their teams. They learn from each other, other leaders and successful approaches to gender equality. Together, they develop and implement actions to shift entrenched systems which have historically served to disadvantage women in the workplace and society.

Members see achieving gender equality and advancing more and diverse women in leadership as a business, economic, social and human rights imperative. Members meet together regularly in small action-orientated groups centered around a collective work plan, where they learn from and challenge their peers. As a Coalition we work collectively to publicly share our learnings and our progress. As individuals Members implement change within their organisations and publicly advocate for gender equality.

 By working together within and across multiple sectors, the Coalition has a demonstrated it can make a significant and sustainable contribution to the vision for a truly gender-equal world.

How are Champions selected?2020-12-02T09:10:09+11:00

Groups are typically self-forming. They comprise people of power who have the ability to lead, influence and affect change. They come from a cross-section of organisations and sectors to tackle specific and relevant gender equality issues.  They include leaders with both track records in advancing gender equality and those who value the opportunity to learn from others.

The focus is often on engaging leaders of large workforces or influential organisations in society where new ideas and initiatives, once implemented, can help build real momentum for change. Other Members, such as consulting firms, provide networks and expertise in analysing issues, developing change frameworks, and advocating for the advancement of women at the highest levels.

Importantly, all Champions of Change must have the willingness and commitment to listen, learn and visibly lead on the issue and be accountable for their progress. Groups do not tolerate free riders.

How are women leaders involved?2020-12-02T09:57:23+11:00

Women CEOs are engaged as Champions of Change within each Group, and most Groups are convened by highly regarded women leaders. Many women hold the role of Program Director or as each Member organisation’s Implementation Leaders for the strategy.

From the outset, our Coalition was established within a feminist framing which includes a formal process of listening to employees within Member organisations. This listening has underpinned priorities and actions identified and championed by the Coalition. Our Members have also partnered with Groups such as Chief Executive Women, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia; Workplace Gender Equality Agency; Our Watch, No to Violence and Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia on specific projects.

Women’s leadership is essential.  Women are critical collaborators and advisors.  However, the accountability for action in this strategy rests squarely with the men.

Do you target gender balance of membership in your Groups?2020-12-03T17:37:20+11:00

Our Group membership reflects the existing power dynamics where, by and large, men hold the levers of power. Women CEOs are engaged as Champions of Change within each Group, and our hope is that over time more and diverse women CEOs will be appointed and the gender balance in leadership will be reflected in the membership of our Groups.

Why are you focussing on gender equality specifically, rather than diversity more broadly?2020-12-02T09:57:53+11:00

Our Members are very clear and specific about their purpose – achieving gender equality and advancing more and diverse women into leadership within their organisations.

We live in a society where men dominate leadership positions. When we focus on gender equality, we capture the missing 50% of our population.

Many of our Coalition’s initiatives, such as improving flexibility for all employees, clearly help to provide greater options and choices for everyone. Valuing and promoting inclusive leadership capabilities, is also an intervention championed by Members that benefits all.

How does the strategy support equality for people who identify beyond binary gender identities?2020-12-02T09:26:16+11:00

Our organisation is focused on building gender equality, advancing more and diverse women into leadership and creating respectful and inclusive workplaces.

Our long-term experience is that advancing diverse women helps to create the systems, processes and cultures that build more inclusive environments for all, irrespective of gender, age, cultural identity, sexual orientation, or ability.

We also engage with experts experienced in specific gender-based and intersectional aspects to help build our knowledge and understanding of the needs of sexually and gender-diverse employees.
How do Members and Groups work together?2020-12-03T17:40:26+11:00

Members connect formally in action-orientated groups, there are regular meetings held throughout the year based on the Group’s schedule. Our meetings are structured similar to any high-level Group focused tackling a significant business problem. Another comparison might be to Board or Committee meetings of any well-governed organisation.  Meetings are planned at least one year in advance with specific objectives for each meeting.

Some time is spent reflecting on context and developments (for the Group or within the community) since the last meeting. From there, the agenda focuses on moving through the various stages of the Champions of Change strategy. Briefing papers on a particular issue might be discussed.   Members share their insights and progress on an issue, initiative or opportunity they are pursuing.

Time is also spent discussing specific challenges faced by Members of the Group. Here experiences are shared and ideas generated.

The meetings also include a focus on progress to ensure the Group is meeting its objectives and improving performance on the gender equality measures they are seeking to advance

How are Coalition priorities determined?2020-12-03T17:46:37+11:00

The Champions of Change strategy centres on five inter-connected themes:

  1. Stepping up as leaders
  2. Creating accountability
  3. Disrupting the status quo
  4. Dismantling barriers for carers
  5. Gender equality in society

Within these broad themes, each Group decides on the priorities and actions they will pursue based on the listening and learning they do within their organisations and amongst other key stakeholders. The purpose of each Group is described in a clearly defined Charter which is published on the Coalition’s website.

Are there specific commitments that all Champions of Change are expected to support?2020-12-02T09:16:54+11:00

Taking action rather than talking about the issues is a cornerstone of the Champions of Change strategy.

The power in the strategy is the collective commitment to some key initiatives across all Group Members. Sometimes it is not possible for everyone to act in unison. For example, differing operating approaches, organisational maturity or size may stand in the way of participation by all. Differing governance structures between the public and private sector or local and multi-national organisations may also prevent participation by all in a few cases.

Our Members strive to participate to the extent to which they have the authority and influence to do so – ranging from “Leaders” to “Learners” on a particular issue. However, there are some commitments that are consistent amongst all Groups establishing themselves as within the Coalition.

These include:

  • Listening to people women and men in our organisations, learning from them and leading with action
  • Changing workplace conditions, cultures and mindsets to enable both women and men to advance within organisations
  • Working to increase gender balance on boards, executive committee and in line management
  • Recruiting, developing and retaining diverse candidates as a priority
  • Developing workplaces where health and safety are prioritized and all forms of violence in the workplace – including verbal, physical, sexual – and sexual harassment, are prohibited
  • Sharing experiences and strategies for advancing gender equality across corporate, government and community sectors
  • Being spokespersons for the promotion of gender equality, both individually and collectively
  • Assessing and publicly reporting on our individual and collective progress and results on gender equality, consistent with local and global leading practice reporting frameworks.
Why is the listening and learning personally led by the Champions?2020-12-03T17:41:32+11:00

There is no substitute for the ‘head’ and ‘heart’ connection that comes from personal engagement through listening to and learning from the lived experience of others. It’s also powerful for CEOs to hear the concepts of gender equality translated into the day-to-day and experiences of individuals and specific Groups within their own organisations.

Benefits of leading this approach include: gaining a very deep understanding of how gender equality issues impact people in their organisation and developing a language and stories that enable leaders to articulate the issues and convince others of the need for action. The commitment to listening also demonstrates how personally engaged CEOs are in responding to the issues and the power of applying their lens to issues that may have otherwise proven intractable to solve.

What if the major issue to address is outside the Champions’ ability to influence?2020-12-02T09:55:51+11:00

This does occur, particularly on systemic issues which require involvement from multiple sectors and leaders if change is to be achieved. Here, our Members work to understand the issue deeply, particularly from the perspective of their employees, customers and the communities they serve. They take action where they can directly influence outcomes and work individually and collectively to advocate for change with other key stakeholders within the eco-system of the issue.

How do you track progress?2020-12-03T17:46:19+11:00

Our Coalition uses leadership methods that are applied to all strategic organisational priorities. They establish baseline metrics, set and agree targets, develop action plans, measure, report and correct. Some opportunities are hard to progress. Our Champions scrutinise key metrics and progress from multiple angles. They intervene where needed and share their experiences so that others might avoid similar mistakes.

Members share their progress year-on- year in their annual Impact Report and Group-specific reports. The Coalition’s annual Impact Report is one of the most comprehensive voluntary reporting on gender equality anywhere in the world.

The annual Impact Report covers actions taken by the Champions within their organisations, as well as the effectiveness of those actions.  The key impact measures include:-

  • Gender balance in leadership, recruitment, graduates and promotions
  • Pay equity between men and women
  • Flexible and inclusive employment experiences
  • Leadership, advocacy and impact of gender equality social issues

Effectiveness measures include:-

  • Women’s representation overall – annual progress towards gender balance
  • Women’s representation in each of 5 WGEA management categories (or aligned for organisations that don’t report to WGEA) – annual progress towards gender balance
  • Women graduates – annual progress towards gender balance
  • Recruitment of women – annual progress towards gender balance
  • Annual level of women’s promotions at least equivalent to women’s representation overall
  • Biennial reduction overall and within each Group of the gender pay gap
  • Annual increase in reported levels of employees’ access to the flexibility they need
  • Employee engagement measures for women and men reflect an inclusive employment experience
  • Annual reduction in numbers of men and women leaving employment during or at the end of parental leave
  • Defined impact (by initiative) on gender equality social issues
  • Growth of visible leadership by the Champions of Change (via speaking and communication metrics, audience reach)

While there is still a long way to go and many stakeholders have driven progress, we know that:

  • Australia now has more women in the workforce than at any other time in its history
  • Flexible workplaces are fast becoming a threshold for organisations considered to be “employers of choice” for the best talent
  • Australian businesses are now leading the way on organisational responses to domestic violence
  • More women are being encouraged and supported into non-traditional sectors such as STEM, where future job prospects are high
  • We now have tools and strategies for understanding and addressing gender pay gaps in like for like roles
  • We have achieved strong advances in women in leadership across the board compared to 10 years ago, even if representation percentages remain a challenge
  • Successful women executives in Member organisations have gone on to become prominent CEOs and Board members in other organisations
  • We see teams demanding diversity of viewpoints in their work and celebrating the business benefits it delivers
  • Australia has a prominent, national and ongoing conversation at the highest levels of influence about how to advance gender equality

Notwithstanding these outcomes, the pace of progress – particularly at Board and Executive level – is not as fast our coalition had hoped and more work is required to understand and address the reasons for that and any underlying resistance to change.

Practical, constructive and disruptive actions leaders can apply to shift entrenched systems of inequality.

Insights, progress, resources and results freely and widely shared for others to adopt or adapt to scale and accelerate the pace of change.

Do you have a question or are you interested in finding out more?

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