Gender diversity requires different mindset: Survey

Both men and women need to change their perceptions in order to enhance gender diversity in the workplace, according to a new survey of top Australian businesswomen.


The Telstra survey is based on the responses of 134 businesswomen, all of whom were winners or finalists in this year’s Telstra Business Women’s Awards.


Around half of the finalists are businesses owners, while the rest hold senior positions in government and private businesses.


This year’s state and territory winners include Genevieve Atkins, business development manager of The Travel Studio, and Edible Blooms managing director Kelly Baker-Jamieson.


The survey reveals 50% of respondents believe women need greater confidence in their own abilities in order to improve diversity in senior management and on boards in Australia.


When asked to nominate the factors they believe would make it easier for women to reach senior levels, 65% named flexible working conditions while half chose tax-deductible childcare.


Professional development opportunities and mentoring programs were also seen as important initiatives to enhance gender diversity.


In contrast, enforcing gender quotas was favoured by only 21% of respondents, while the recent call for greater acceptance of nannies to assist working women also struggled to win support.


Telstra spokesperson Kate McKenzie says the survey results indicate a lack of awareness of the benefits of diversity in some Australian workplaces.


“Family-friendly workplaces and tax-deductible childcare remain issues of high importance,” McKenzie says.


“It is clear too that, for some women, greater self-awareness of their abilities is necessary for them to reach the senior levels in management.”


According to another new survey, conducted in 135 countries by the World Economic Forum, women hold less than 20% of key national positions.


The report reveals only a fifth of the countries surveyed have mandated female company board representation, while just 30% have mandated political participation.


Less than 20% of ministers and national lawmakers are women, the report shows, and there are only around 20 elected female heads of state and government.


European countries dominate the WEF gender equality rankings, with Iceland, Norway, Finland, Sweden and Ireland making up the top five. Australia lagged at number 23.


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