DFAT Secretary Peter Varghese today launched a Women in Leadership strategy that aims to promote gender equality within DFAT and address barriers to the career advancement of women.
The strategy outlines a range of interconnected actions intended to support women’s career advancement and build a more inclusive workplace culture. It commits DFAT to three and five year targets to boost the representation of women in DFAT’s senior executive service. By 2020, DFAT aims to have women fill 43 per cent of SES Band 1 positions (currently 36 per cent) and 40 per cent of SES Band 2 positions (currently 25 per cent).
The initiative follows an internal review into the barriers that prevent women from reaching senior leadership positions in DFAT. It was commissioned in response to statistics showing that women make up just 34 per cent of DFAT’s senior executive service (SES), despite comprising 57 per cent of its workforce.
“For DFAT to perform at its best, we must maximise the talents and skills of all our staff. This strategy is about strengthening our capability by enabling all staff to reach their full potential,” Mr Varghese said.
Other measures introduced in the strategy include a trial that makes flexible work the default for all positions, the introduction of unconscious bias training for all managers, and a commitment to review a range of policies, with a view to breaking down career barriers for staff with caring responsibilities. The strategy has a strong emphasis on leadership and introduces inclusive leadership – the fostering of diverse perspectives – as a performance measure for managers.
Mr Varghese is leading the Women in Leadership initiative and chairs a Steering Group comprised of staff representatives and two external experts; former Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, and CEO of Goldman Sachs in Australia and New Zealand, Simon Rothery.
Mr Varghese joined the Male Champions of Change program in August 2015.