Chief Executive Women: Westpac case study

Women and employment Sex discrimination Leadership Women Australia

Chief Executive Women has commissioned a series of Case Studies analysing genuine progress around diversity within leading Australian organisations which bought our original CEO Kit (now the CEW Gender Diversity Kit). We have drawn on interviews with staff of the organisations as well as researched the data on what actually happened, to bring these stories to life.

Australia’s oldest bank, Westpac is the first of Australia’s largest companies to appoint a woman as CEO.

Since it was established in 1817, Westpac has grown to currently employ over 46,000 people working at Westpac Group and serves around 12 million customers, across multiple brands, including Westpac Retail and business Banking, Westpac institutional Bank, St. George Bank, Bank of Melbourne, BT Financial Group, BankSA and Westpac New Zealand.

Westpac has a strong heritage when it comes to women’s participation and leadership in the workplace. By the 1990’s, and well ahead of its competitors, the bank had appointed a number of women to senior leadership roles.

By 2010, it had become evident that major cultural change around gender had floundered. There was a perception that a number of high-profile female senior executives had moved on, the data made it clear the numbers of women in leadership positions at Westpac had not improved and competitors had caught up to the bank’s early lead. The 2010 Culture Survey results revealed the bank was losing ground and it was the verbatim comments in that survey that brought it home to Gail Kelly, “I am not sure that, as an organization, we care about this issue as much as we used to”. It was time for action.

CEW’s Westpac Case Study reveals how one of Australia’s biggest employers – led by one of the world’s most high-profile female CEOs – tackled gender diversity.

Westpac’s new CEO, Brian Hartzer, aims to reach a market-leading target of 50% Women in Leadership by 2017.

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