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Case study: Gender equality targets to lift women’s leadership

How targets are making a difference to diversity in the public sector, local government and business.

Many of the decisions that impact the daily lives of Victorians are made in boardrooms, council chambers and courts. The problem is that these organisations don’t always reflect the communities they serve.

Having a diversity of people in leadership positions ensures a mix of perspectives. It helps solve challenging problems. It reduces risk and makes organisations perform better.

That includes an equal representation of women. If we’re serious about achieving equality in leadership, we have to set targets. That’s why the Victorian Government is working to ensure an equal representation of women in leadership.

More women on boards and public sector leadership

In March 2015 the Premier announced that women would make up 50% of all new appointments to courts and paid government boards in Victoria. As of June 2017, 49% of public service executives are women.

Women make up 54% of new executive appointments.In 2018, the representation of women on paid public boards has jumped from 39% to 53%. The 50% target now applies to the Chairs of these boards. 

More women lead in local government

Following the 2016 Victorian local council elections, representation of women in local government increased to 38% of elected councillors and 40% of mayors. These results were due in no small way to the GoWomenLG program.

The Victorian Local Governance Association delivered the program to 2,000 Victorian women. It supported women to stand for election with workshops, training sessions and resources. It ran a public information and education campaign to increase candidate’s knowledge of good governance. Some programs focussed specifically on Aboriginal and culturally diverse women.

The results was more women running and more women elected.

More women lead in business

Businesses can also set their own targets. In 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) set a 30% target for women on boards by 2018.

This included the boards of companies on the ASX 200. Since then AICD has been tracking the progress of companies and publishing statistics.

In 2016 BHP Biliton set a target to make half its workforce women by 2025. This includes board and senior managers. BHP Executives have a performance goal of 3% increase in women’s representation each year. 

Reviewed 03 April 2019