Big economic boost from more women leaders

Getting more women into leadership roles could boost the economy by almost $900 million, according to new research commissioned by FlexCareers employer partner Westpac. Find out more about the study, and FlexCareers partnership with Westpac here.

Getting more women into leadership roles could boost the economy by almost $900 million, according to new research commissioned by FlexCareers employer partner Westpac.

New research, conducted for Westpac by Deloitte, also a FlexCareers partner, shows that New Zealand economy is suffering to the tune of $881 million due to a low 29% female representation at management level in New Zealand.  

Westpac NZ Chief Executive, David McLean said the analysis, which was based on a survey of 500 businesses, showed the need for New Zealand businesses to improve their performance on diversity.

“Having more women in decision-making roles has clear benefits – for workers, for companies and for the economy as a whole.

“Gender parity is a common sense priority for businesses wanting to boost the diversity of thought, experience and skills in their organisation. All these things lead to better business performance.”

Mr McLean said the research showed many businesses were making encouraging moves, but there was plenty more nearly all businesses – including Westpac – could do.

“Almost half of respondents said levels of women in management had increased in the past two years, which is great. On the other hand, 9% believed they would never achieve parity in leadership. That seems quite incredible.

“It was interesting that just under half of the respondents said a lack of female talent, either in the workforce or internally, was a barrier to parity.

“That flies in the face of statistics that, for example, show women are now earning tertiary qualifications at a higher rate than men, and suggests an element of unconscious and even conscious bias in decisions around hiring and promotion.”

FlexCareers CEO Natalie Goldman believes that many businesses just aren’t doing enough to source, attract and put the necessary steps in place to retain talented women.

“FlexCareers has a rich database of over 45,000 candidates. 85% of our community are women, and more than 80% are tertiary educated with at least ten years experience in the workforce.

Businesses absolutely need to be doing more to support and promote women’s careers, and that needs to be driven from the top down, ” said Ms Goldman.

Among the report’s conclusions was a recommendation that businesses should have a gender policy, and measure its outcomes. However the report found only 40% of businesses had a policy in place and just 26% of those businesses reported on outcomes.

“That’s the crucial part – in any business you have to track your performance. As the old adage goes, ‘what gets measured gets managed,” said Mr McLean.

Report Key Findings:

  • Women make up 47% of New Zealand’s workforce, but businesses report women fill just 29% of their management roles.
  • An increase in women in leadership would (1) create more role models and (2) boost the availability of flexible working arrangements. Both factors would drive greater workforce participation, resulting in benefits of $881 million to the economy.
  • One in four businesses do not expect to reach gender balance in leadership (meaning 40%-60% of roles held by women) in the next five years, with 9% believing they will never achieve it.
  • 73% of women (vs 64% of men) say it’s important for men to be involved in gender diversity initiatives.
  • 49% of respondents say lack of female talent is the primary barrier to gender parity.
  • 40% of businesses have a gender policy in place and 26% measure performance or progress.
  • The main priority identified for achieving gender parity in leadership by businesses is the availability of affordable childcare. 27% of respondents cited this factor.
  • Each 1% increase in female managers increases an organisation’s return on assets by 0.07%. For a business valued at $10m this would mean an extra $150,000 revenue a year.

Deloitte recommends that gender diversity initiatives should be well resourced and supported from the top, but only 7% of businesses had budget dedicated to diversity initiatives.

Westpac NZ identified that only 47% of it’s own leadership positions are currently held by women, but have already take steps to address this.  Westpac partnered with FlexCareers in early 2017, to help source and attract talent from the FlexCareers community of over 75,000 women.

Westpac NZ understands that a key enabler of gender diversity, and improving female participation at senior and leadership level, is having flexible working practices firmly embedded within the organisation.  The business also believes that flexibility is about more than good policies – it’s about flexibility in thinking, and being innovative in meeting the needs of its customers and employees.

Westpac NZ’s Senior Talent Acquisition Manager, Clare Montgomerie said,

“Candidates from FlexCareers have been of a very high calibre and we are attracting applications from a talent pool that we may not have accessed via other channels.

Using FlexCareers has also assisted the discussion internally around what flexible working truly means. Hiring managers better understand that there are many types of flexibility and by considering flex for roles it broadens the candidate pool.”

Find out more about FlexCareers partnership here, and search and apply for flexible roles here.


Similar posts