From the National Director
NAWO e-newsletter Issue 1 December 2015
Taking a left field approach to filling the pipeline of female talent…
As Daisy Pearce launched an AFL-driven campaign to attract talented female athletes from other sports, I reflected on the impact an identical NAWO-driven campaign could have to achieve our mission – to fill the pipeline of female talent in operations.
The Australian Football League (AFL) has realised the potential of a women’s league, but faces the same issue as operational industries – a relatively small pool of female talent. With no prospects for advancement in the sport of AFL, talented ‘Auskick’ girls switched to other sports such as netball, soccer, basketball, hockey. Now the AFL has recognised the need to think laterally to attract these women back into AFL.
It’s no surprise that the AFL has cast aside traditional selection criteria used in the men’s league and is recruiting women into the sport on the basis of transferable skills from other disciplines – such as overall atheticism, ball handling, ability to read the play, teamwork and decision making.
Game development chief, Simon Lethlean’s comments are refreshing and resonate strongly with us at NAWO. “We want Australian football to be the sport of choice for female athletes, and we know there are many talented footballers who have backgrounds in other sports,” Lethlean said. “We want to engage with these players and give them the chance to enhance their football skills while expanding our talent pool as we look towards the national women’s competition in 2017.”
Back in the business world, Westpac has run its own lateral campaign to feed the female talent pipeline – sucking top talent away from operational industry into key management positions in Finance through the ‘Equilibrium Program’. This program was specifically designed to recruit experienced women from other industries into the bank and expand the “pipeline” of talented women in senior ranks. The bank received more than 300 applications for the program. Women who have joined the program include Rebecca Meli, a former senior marketing manager at Nestle, Michelle Gorman, a former general manager at Meat & Livestock Australia and Caroline Williamson, a former director at accounting firm Deloitte.
The parallels between both campaigns are clear. To change the game you have to be prepared to think differently.
Smart businesses are thinking laterally with respect to how they go to market for talent, eliminating unnecessary criteria (anything that is trainable on the job) in recruitment briefs and advertisements and focusing on the transferable skills from other sectors – innovative thinking, communication skills, stakeholder management, problem solving and decision making, to name a few.
Several NAWO member companies, including Brookfield Rail, BP, and PepsiCo have taken a left field approach just like the AFL, with recruitment and selection processes focussed on attitudes, behaviours and transferable skills and this has resulted in increased access to talent from both genders.
So, borrowing from Simon Lethlean’s words, our new mindset should be “we want operational management to be the career of choice for female professionals, and we know there are many talented women who have backgrounds in other disciplines”.
2015 has been a big year for NAWO as we have strived to support our members in attracting, retaining and developing female talent. We have welcomed many new corporate members across diverse industries and now reach over 1800 women through our network. Our volunteer state committees demonstrate the collegiate NAWO culture and continue to deliver exceptional events in each state. Senior leaders have taken away key learnings from our industry solutions events, identifying practical things they can can do as leaders to drive change more quickly in their own organisations with respect to gender diversity. Feedback from our leadership programs (Mentoring Circles and Transition to Executive Leadership) continues to be exceptionally positive.
Our plans for 2016 are truly inspiring and, when integrated into members’ diversity strategies, will deliver exceptional support for professional women in our network and improved talent retention outcomes for their organisations.
Thank you for your continued support and active involvement in NAWO. The NAWO team is looking forward to an exciting and progressive year supporting our members in 2016.