Improving gender balance is one of our most important priorities. It helps our workplace reflect the make-up of the wider community and increases productivity and employee engagement. Over the past 12 months, we’ve appointed more talented and in-demand women to senior leadership roles. We hit our goal several months early and now have 27 per cent of leadership roles across Transport held by women. This is great progress, but we want to do even better, so we’ve set a new target of 34 per cent by June 2018.
Not only that, the latest intake of scholars, cadets and graduates – the leaders of the future – includes 52 per cent of women overall and 42 per cent in the engineering field, which is a lot higher than the industry average.
And you’re also noticing the difference. In the 2017 People Matter Employee Survey, 60 per cent of you told us senior managers are supporting the career advancement of women, up from 50 per cent last year.
While there’s still a way to go, it’s clear change is happening. So what have we done differently to start shifting the gender balance?
Elizabeth Mildwater, Deputy Secretary of People and Corporate Services, shares her viewpoint on what's driving the change.
“There’s no doubt we’ve done a lot over the past 12 months to communicate our absolute commitment to gender balance and importantly it’s gone way beyond just talking,” she said.
“Every leader across the cluster is now held personally accountable for fixing the gender balance in their teams and they’re doing it.
“We’ve provided support through things like targeted recruitment advertising which actually reflects what we know women care about, a focus on flexible working arrangements, and training and tools to change the culture of our selection processes.
“But ultimately it’s hiring managers who have appointed these new women to leadership roles,” Elizabeth said.
It’s a similar story when it comes to supporting women who already work at Transport to move towards leadership roles.
“A lot of effort and focus has been put into providing women with formal development and networking opportunities.
“We have high numbers of women participating in the DriveIT and Accelerate leadership development programs, over 100 women have enrolled in the Networking Connecting Forums, and we continue to host a range of networking events.
“What’s most exciting for me though is that I‘m seeing more and more women across Transport finding their own ways to support and develop each other,” Elizabeth said.
Women in IT
IT is traditionally a male dominated domain and when Business Manager, Lisa Doherty, looked around the table, she was the only woman out of 10 people on the Group IT senior leadership team.
“We all wanted that to change so we made a conscious decision to increase diversity and have more women in senior roles,” Lisa said.
“The first step was to run a forum with all our female direct reports so we could hear the truth about how we were going and gather fresh ideas about what we could do better.
“Since then we’ve put in place a pilot mentoring program and secondment opportunities so women can gain exposure at all levels and develop their skills across our diverse group.
“We’ve also looked at recruitment, educating ourselves about things like unconscious bias so more women are shortlisted for interviews.
“And it’s worked. Over the past 12 months, we’ve gone from 19 per cent to 26 per cent of women in senior service roles,” Lisa said.
Lisa’s advice to other teams who want to do the same?
“Bring women together. There’s so much we can learn from each other.”
Diversity pioneer in engineering
Melissa Jovic is no stranger to busting gender stereotypes.
Melissa, who is a Principal Manager of Corridor Development, has worked in engineering for more than three decades and while that’s not unusual in her birth country of Serbia where 42 per cent of engineers are women, it hasn’t been the norm since she started working in Australia.
That’s something Melissa, who is also the Chair of Engineers Australia’s Women in Engineering Committee, is doing everything she can to change.
“A little over half of Australia’s population are women. Yet only 11 per cent of engineering students are women and even less — 5 or 6 per cent of women — are working engineers. I’d like to see 40 per cent become the norm,” she said.
One of the ways Melissa is doing her part is by mentoring women inside and outside of Transport.
“Time and again young female engineers tell me they’ve never met anyone else through school, friends or family who is doing what they are,” she said.
“On top of that, when they start work they often face a culture that isn’t inclusive and don’t feel part of the ‘club’.
“That’s where mentoring and networking can be so helpful. Sometimes talking to someone who has been through the same thing is all that keeps them in the job,” Melissa said.
Despite the challenges many female engineers face in the workplace, Melissa’s experience in Transport has been a positive one.
“I like the fact that Transport is dynamic and flexible. Transport also recognises that people are whole packages, which is so important, particularly for women with families. I’m always proud to say I work at Transport.”
Be part of the change
You’ll find everything you need to know about shifting the gender balance including resources, networking opportunities and status updates at the Women in Leadership online space.