Women in leadership: Meet the companies committed to advancing your career

Women in leadership: Meet the companies committed to advancing your career

WORK180Apr 28, 2021

Meet the organisations actively removing the barriers preventing women from being hired, promoted, or thriving in management positions. Their actionable plans go beyond ‘good intentions’, and you can explore them in this article.

According to the Women in the Workplace study, women leaders make the most powerful allies; they are more likely than senior-level men to adopt inclusive policies and programmes, take a public stand for equity at work, and mentor and sponsor other women. This means the actions taken by companies to attract and retain women today will significantly impact the careers of all women and the gender equity goals for decades to come. And many of the companies taking such action are WORK180 Endorsed Employers.

Specific steps companies are taking to support women in leadership

We interviewed a number of endorsed employers to find out what they’re doing to break down some of the biggest barriers prohibiting women from progressing in the workplace.

Read each area or select the one that matters most to you and your career:

Recruitment: Creating a pipeline of women leaders

Gender Balance: Increasing women’s participation in management roles

Pay Equity: Closing the pay gap for all women

Development: Mentoring and sponsorship for career progression

Leadership programmes: Formal leadership programmes for women

Creating a pipeline of women leaders

Having diverse hiring panels has led to greater diversity of new hires. It resulted in 53% of leadership roles filled by women in the 2020 financial year. Laura Burge | Senior Human Resources Advisor, CS Energy


Positive steps in the recruitment space and the employers taking them

Increasing women’s participation in management roles

We have to ensure more women are in roles that are responsible for business decisions", Silke Munster | Philip Morris Limited


Goals endorsed employers have set to achieve a gender balance

  • Achieve 40% women in management by 2022. By Philip Morris Limited
  • Achieve 47-50% gender equality in executive management and senior level roles by 2025. This goal aims to reflect the workforce participation for women and is gender inclusive to recognise people who do not identify with a binary gender. By Commonwealth Bank
  • Achieve a 40:60 gender balance by 2025. This includes all classifications including senior levels. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Achieve equal representation of women and men at all levels across the firm. By Deloitte
  • 42.4% of leadership positions to be held by women from 2019 to 2023, and ensure women occupy 50% of Tier 2 and 3 positions by 2023. By DMIRS
  • Minimum 40% gender representation of both men and women across all teams by 2030. Increasing gender representation across the business by supporting internal development and promotion through their Women at Lion Program. By Lion
  • At least 40% women in executive and senior management positions across the business. WooliesX, part of the Woolworths Group
  • 30% women at all levels by 2030 as a global objective. By BOC member of The Linde Group

Closing the pay gap for all women

The largest fall in the gender pay gap in 2020 is among managers, directors and senior levels, from 16.3% to 9.9%, reflecting some signs of more women holding higher-paid managerial roles this year. Office for National Statistics


Positive steps to close the gender pay gap and the endorsed employers taking them

  • Annual gender pay audit to monitor and remediate any identified pay gaps. By Commonwealth Bank
  • Closing the gender pay gap in a one-off $6 million adjustment in 2016, and keeping it closed. By Lion
  • Focus on salary expectations, not current salary level during candidate conversations. By Transurban
  • Maintaining a pay equity gap of less than 1%. By Transurban

Find out firsthand how to get a promotion into a leadership position. These women managed to do it even while on parental leave. Read: Get a promotion instead of leaving.

Mentoring and sponsorship for career progression

A Women’s Network was established in 2020 to support existing employees in their career development, improve networking opportunities and increase business knowledge and contacts across our ports. Despite the pandemic, we have still undertaken remote sessions. Meg Stevens | HR Advisor - Talent and Resourcing, Hutchison Ports UK


Initiatives that endorsed employers have put in place to support the development of women’s careers

  • The Mentor Programme: Identifies high performers across the business, matching them with an executive member, head of department, or senior manager from a different business area to coach and mentor them in developing their career. The commitment is making the programme a 50:50 gender balance in 2021. By Hutchison Ports UK
  • 2021 Female Sponsorship Programme: A 12-month programme that supports and enhances the careers of a select number of high potential women. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Pilot Mentorship Programme: An opportunity for women to be mentored by experienced managers. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Gender Diversity Working: An Executive sponsored group. By Unitywater
  • Annual Women’s Conference: An opportunity for women in middle and senior management to network and share ideas. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Lean IN circle programme: Facilitated by a group coach, this six-month programme sees some of Deloitte’s Directors join small cohorts of women to gain clarity about career goals, build confidence and courage, identify and overcome personal barriers, and build their network. By Deloitte
  • Partner coaching: For all first and second-year women partners, the programme provides dedicated one-on-one coaching to help them navigate their new role and overcome any career and family challenges they may be experiencing. By Deloitte
  • Global Agile Working Policy: A framework against which managers and employees can have a meaningful and open conversation about what will work best for them in order to deliver their objectives and meet the requirements of the business, whilst gaining the flexibility they require to achieve a balance in their personal setting. By CSL
  • Early careers pathway: A programme with tertiary providers supporting the Technology and Data Science teams. By Woolworths Group

Formal leadership programmes for women

If first-level women managers were hired and promoted like men, there would be one million more women in management over the next five years. Women in the Workplace


The structured programmes endorsed employers have in place to accelerate women’s careers


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_MicrosoftProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21

  • Women Rising: A career and leadership coaching programme for both Microsoft employees and its wider partner ecosystem to help women at all stages in their career unlock their full leadership potential, in partnership with Women Rising.

Combining science with the latest in gender research, leadership development and wellbeing principles, the Women Rising programme is designed to support women to authentically lead, thrive in their careers, develop radical confidence, and build sustainable wellbeing. This carefully curated six-month programme offers eight leadership modules including 32 masterclasses, live coaching sessions and an interactive community forum to encourage mentoring, community sharing and networking. It is run virtually to allow women from any location to participate.


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_EYProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21

  • Accelerate: Designed to accelerate the next generation of future women leaders, this two-year leadership development programme provides participants access to targeted development experiences and sponsorship from senior leaders within the firm.

EY’s aspiration for the programme is that each participant will graduate with a more extensive internal network, greater self-awareness and self-confidence, and a stronger sense of their personal leadership brand and authentic executive presence. Accelerate helps to activate these transformative leadership behaviours to develop a pipeline of women leaders who are bold, confident, empowered and inspiring.


  • Deloitte Inspiring Women: This is a core firm-wide strategic programme designed to support Deloitte’s most talented women navigate their careers and challenges.

Available to graduates through to directors across all their offices in Australia and Papua New Guinea, the programme takes place over ten months and is designed to equip 120 high potential women with the skills, support, and opportunities they need to accelerate their career growth.

Since 2015, 403 women have taken part in this initiative, and the programme has seen a retention rate of 68% for participants over the last four years.

Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_DeloitteProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21

  • Return to Work: in 2019, Deloitte launched a market-leading Return to Work programme designed to support individuals re-entering the workplace after an extended career break, such as caring for their family, their health or other personal reasons.

Participants undergo a structured induction and training to ensure a smooth transition back into work, coupled with tailored learning and development within a specific business area, plus any technical training they may require.


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_DownerProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21

  • LEaD TogetHer: Downer has just launched its first group-wide leadership programme for women to develop them at all levels across the organisation, supporting Downer’s strategic objective of increasing women’s participation in management roles.

LEaD TogetHer includes a series of face-to-face development sessions and online learning modules that will increase knowledge, foster collaboration, enhance leadership exposure, provide networking and wellness opportunities to enrich the professional experiences of all participants.

The program, which starts in June 2021 and will run for 12 months, also aims to identify potential risk factors and establish safeguards for women employees.

Woolworths Group

  • ElevateX: As part of the diversity and inclusion guild, this programme stream is focused on elevating women within WooliesX team. ElevateX is working on a sponsorship programme aimed at assigning sponsors to high-potential women employees.
  • WooliesX Technology Leadership: This programme is designed to increase the number of applications from women for WooliesX’s multitude of exciting technology, data and digital roles. (2020 recruitment statistics show that only a third of applicants were women).

At WooliesX, we are passionate about supporting great career experiences for all our team. Given the amazing opportunities we have in tech, data and digital we are in a fantastic position to support women who want to grow their capabilities in these areas. The numbers are not where they need to be and we are committed to making change to improve the balance. Cassie Soady | (GM Culture and People), Woolworths Group


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  • Emerging talent programs: Females Excelling in Engineering and Technology (FEET) is Transurban’s national emerging talent programme, which has two intakes in summer and winter. While students receive mentoring, Transurban’s emerging people leader talent are given the opportunity to take higher responsibilities. This programme also provides a pivotal pathway for women professionals in STEM to gain industry experience.
  • Graduate program: A two year leadership programme that supports around eight graduates to build a broad capability, which will enable flexibility and breadth. The programme has a minimum commitment of a 50:50 gender split.
  • Realise your potential: A programme specifically designed for women in leadership, which provides internal training.

Find a workplace that will support your leadership career goals


Women’s full and effective participation and equal leadership opportunities is just one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals provide a clear blueprint for achieving gender equity by 2030 — a mission both WORK180 and 193 Member States of the United Nations are firmly committed to.

The WORK180 Endorsed Employers featured in this article have specifically committed to taking affirmative steps towards this goal. To find a role with one of these supportive employers, check out our job board today.

Want to keep on top of emerging trends, news and events? Subscribe to our monthly Women at Work email.

About the author



WORK180 is an international jobs network that connects smart businesses with talented women. We pre-screen every employer on our jobs board to see where they stand on pay equity, flexible working, paid parental leave, equal opportunities and a range of other criteria. We also take into account diversity initiatives focusing on age, ability, ethnicity and sexual orientation.

The information we uncover is made public on our website, so that everyone knows what to expect from each employer before applying for a job. We continually review and evolve our pre-screening criteria to ensure workplaces are fair and equal for everyone.

To help women find a workplace that will work for them, we prescreen employers on their gender pay gap data, parental leave policies, flexible working, and more. Find your next role on the WORK180 job board.