inspiring Origins

“To grow the level of representation of women in operational roles we all need to have the courage to do things differently and the stamina to withstand the growing pains. Women can, and do, solve problems in new and innovative ways and this skill will be even more important going forward as the employment proposition continues to change with the next generation. Operational businesses need to recognise this and managers at all levels need to be more aware of and mitigate their own biases around out-dated expectations. I look forward to 2025 when we can all marvel at how far we have come.”

Judith Swales
MD Fonterra

Originally known as Women in Manufacturing...

…this group was founded in Melbourne in 2009 as a networking opportunity for general manager/director level women working predominantly in manufacturing companies.

It began as a discussion forum regarding best diversity practice and has evolved since to focus on women in non-traditional roles or within operational businesses. In April 2011 the volunteer organisation was formalised as an incorporated national not-for-profit association.

Along with a new name, the National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) widened its scope to encompass operational roles and/or businesses. A Board of nine executives from different major businesses started to formally develop NAWO’s proposition to create a network of mid-career women through offering high quality events.

As membership grew, NAWO expanded into Sydney in 2011, then into Perth and Queensland in subsequent years.

NAWO’s success has hinged on seeking insight into what diversity practices work well, and providing practical tools and mentoring for women’s professional development. Influencing the diversity agenda at CEO/executive level has provided an additional level of support by fostering greater industry understanding of strategies required for establishing a robust pipeline of female talent.

NAWO’s approach has centred on four key areas:

Attract more women
Develop individuals as leaders
Advise business leaders
Advocate and inform