Sanders, M., Hrdlicka, J., Hellicar, M., Cottrell, D. & Knox, J.
Melbourne: Bain & Company
Area of focus: 

This Australian report provides an analysis of progress towards equal representation in senior business leadership, and presents the results of a survey of the Australian business community on the structural and cultural issues which impede women's progress to executive management. The survey results indicate an increased belief that senior leadership supports diversity and is committing meaningful resources to realising it, and that women and men appear to share equal ambition to top roles; however a wide gap appears to exist between intention and outcome.

Forty-five percent of male respondents remained unconvinced of the business case for diversity, and two schools of thought appear to exist regarding the factors at play. A predominantly male view believed that mixed work-life priorities impede women's progress, while a predominantly female view believed that differences between male and female styles of leadership exist and are rewarded differently. The survey collected data on men's and women's beliefs on the relative value of different leadership attributes, the types of leadership at which the two genders excel, and the impacts of these differences on promotion.

The paper's conclusion presents a list of "acid test" questions which a board, CEO or executive committee can apply to itself to determine its commitment to diversity, and a series of recommendations for future actions the organisation can undertake.