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newsletter - The Power of Storytelling


Stories spark emotions and help you to engage with your audience. Whether it's a company speaking to their customers about their brand values or a leader sharing experiences with their team, there are advantages to good storytelling that inspire and motivate people into action.

People learn from storytelling, sometimes in better ways than just looking at facts and figures. To understand the journey that is taken to get to a goal is more powerful than just knowing the outcome.

We hope the stories in this edition of the Xplorer will inspire you to create your own story.

Diana Ryall and the team at Xplore for Success

Feel free to keep in touch with us on our Facebook page , our LINKED IN group , or follow us on Twitter for daily inspiration.

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Management Overview

Leaders Tell Stories

“Being the leader means you hold the highest rank, either by earning it, good fortune or navigating internal politics. Leading, however, means that others willingly follow you—not because they have to, not because they are paid to, but because they want to.” - Simon Sinek , Start with Why

Telling stories to convey a vision is an essential part of a leaders role. Stories about the company's history, it's brand values and what it stands for and where it's heading into the future. It's important for people to ‘buy in to' what you are saying and want to follow you, and a story is the best way to arouse their emotions to do so. Stories inspire people and make them feel part of the journey that you're all going on to achieve success. Each person also has their own career story but as a leader you are the one to create and shape the company's story.

The late Steve Jobs was well known for his storytelling in a business context. He was one of the pioneers of the use of simple images and one-line concepts to support his verbal storytelling, which is the format for the powerful TED talks. One of his standout storytelling moments was the Stanford University commencement speech where he talks about pursuing dreams and seeing opportunities in life's setbacks. Sheryl Sandberg also used storytelling in her Harvard University commencement speech to demonstrate gender bias and leaning in. Both of these speeches touch the audience because of the personal stories that show that these leaders are ‘real'. Their openness and honesty about their past resonates with everyone and so the lessons that these stories teach us become even more powerful. Their stories inspire.

In this video Harnessing the Power of Stories, Jennifer Aaker, Professor of Marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, tells us that stories are important for 3 reasons:

  • Stories shape how others see you
  • Stories are tools of power
  • Stories persuade

In order for a leader to be convincing when storytelling it's often important to show some vulnerability. This quality makes people feel that they can relate to you on a personal level, which is essential for storytelling. Research professor Brené Brown, in her video series 4 Powerful Things Leaders Should Know About Vulnerability, explains that the biggest myth about vulnerability is that it's a weakness. Brené ‘s definition of vulnerability, which you can carry through in the stories you tell, is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure – tying these themes into your storytelling and giving personal examples is incredibly powerful.

The article Tap the power of storytelling , explores what kind of stories leaders could use to influence others. There are many types of story that you could tell to convey a message, here are just some examples: A “Purpose Story” is a big picture story that conveys a big idea, “Example or Proof Stories” illustrate how others overcame a similar problem and had a successful outcome, and “What If?” or “Imagine …” stories help to motivate change. CEOs and executives are even using stories to address inclusion and manage diversity by tackling some of the more delicate issues.

With their storytelling leaders can demonstrate, on a personal level, why they believe diversity to be important. An example shown in the blog post Winning Hearts & Minds: The Battle for Diversity & Inclusion Needs Authentic Leadership (Here's Where to Start), is of a CEO that used a personal story to demonstrate his commitment to inclusion, specifically of women, in his organisation.

“To fully win the hearts and minds of individuals within the organization, the CEO shared a personal story that illustrated his own commitment to diversity and inclusion. The story was simple. He shared how he was the youngest child and the only boy in a large family. He spoke of being aware of the differences in treatment between himself and his sisters. He shared specific facts of the inequities he witnessed when his extremely capable older sisters entered the workforce. The CEO's story became the catalyst for accelerating change within the organization, particularly with respect to the advancement of women”.

Another example in this article How leaders use storytelling to get the message over , is of KPMG and how their national head of people, performance and culture, Susan Ferrier, used storytelling as part of a strategy to introduce a new diversity and inclusion policy. 280 leaders within the organisation took part in storytelling workshops, “We asked leaders to tell a ­personal diversity story that had an impact on their lives, whether it was positive or negative” Ferrier says. The process gave KPMG's leaders the confidence to talk about the strategy with staff in a way that was not just facts and figures.

The same article also features Lisa Gray, National Australia Bank's group executive, enterprise services and transformation, who worked with Yamini Naidu, a global thought leader in storytelling and business communication and co-author of Hooked, to master storytelling skills. Naidu says. “The role of leadership is moving from ‘inform and expect' to ‘inspire and respect'. The leader's mandate is to inspire action and storytelling gives them the opportunity to do that.”

In the article How to Tell a Great Story, experts suggest that in today's information hungry world, business leaders “won't be heard unless they're telling stories”. They go on to say that stories create ‘sticky' memories by attaching emotions to things that happen. The article also offers advice on the do's and don'ts of storytelling, as well as a couple of case studies:


  • Consider your audience — choose a framework and details that will best resonate with your listeners.
  • Identify the moral or message you want to impart.
  • Find inspiration in your life experiences.


  • Assume you don't have storytelling chops — we all have it in us to tell memorable stories.
  • Give yourself the starring role.
  • Overwhelm your story with unnecessary details.

If you would like more advice on storytelling please contact diana.ryall@xplore.net.au or consider our Executive Women's Program as this is a great environment to discuss storytelling with other female leaders, register now for our 2015 program.

The Xplore Story

Diana Ryall shares her story of why she created Xplore for Success:

“I left Apple after extensive treatment for Breast Cancer with at first no clear idea of what I would take to next. I had learned important leadership lessons during my journey at Apple. Upon speaking with many young women at early stages in their careers, I realised that I had learned many things about our workplaces and how to succeed as a woman.

At first, I thought executive coaching would be the best vehicle but that did not leverage the concept of also learning from peers. From this insight the framework came for Xplore for Success offering group mentoring in those skills that would support especially women in their career journeys. The powerful features of the programs are the multiple touchpoints and the intertwining of soft and hard skills and facilitator led and peer learning through the small group programs. Never more than 15 in a group, running over 3 months at 4 different levels the Xplore programs have provided insights and confidence to over 10,000 women and nearly 1,000 men.

After 12 years leading Xplore for Success, I am delighted to hear from so many women that we have given them the confidence to achieve their own personal and life goals”.

Want help from a Gender Diversity Expert?

Our Founder and Managing Director Diana Ryall can support your organisation to achieve your gender diversity objectives. With her wealth of experience of gender diversity initiatives, she can speak powerfully to your team on what needs to be done, how to move beyond bias or consult with your group on how to best move your agenda to outcomes.

Xplore also have a Gender Diagnostic to give you information on how your women see their position in the organisation or how about running a workshop for your senior managers – Sponsoring Women: A Game Changer gives pragmatic ideas on how to foster sponsorship of women in your organisation.

Tools & Resources


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For You Personally

What's your career story?

Richard Branson tells us his story in this TED interview Life at 30,000 feet .

Everyone has a career story, whether or not you think that your story is a successful one or if it is still a ‘work in progress' then it is worth going through the process of creating one for yourself (in your mind or on paper). Not only will it allow you to see how far you have come but will also highlight strengths and weaknesses that you can work on. It will also help you with your resume and in interviews.

As part of the process of putting together the Xplore book ‘Unexpected Women' , we asked a number of successful women to tell us their career stories. Each one had their own way of describing their career journey but they all had one thing in common – their stories were shaped by significant experiences/events in their lives. They described specific milestones (successful or challenging) that allowed them to tell a compelling story, with a lesson to share at each milestone. Each of these women were asked to start at a point in their lives that really was the catalyst to where they are today, some chose to begin from their childhood (their background), and others chose an event in their career that was a turning point. Another commonality to these stories are the people that feature in them, whether they are mentors or sponsors or supporting friends and family, they are all an important part of the story.

So how do you start to put together your career story? Well, you start from the place that seems the most relevant in terms of shaping who you are and the things you have achieved in your life/career. Then think about the milestones along the way and their significance to your story; what did you learn from that experience? How did that person support you in achieving your goals? What gave you the strength to take that risk? Ask those kind of questions to yourself to draw out a convincing story.

In this article How to tell the story of your career , we are told to show how challenges have made us stronger in our story. Being open about times that we have faced challenges makes us more real, however remember not to portray yourself as a victim but rather as the hero. Emphasise how particularly challenging experiences have shaped you into the professional you are today.

Diana Ryall shares the story of how she recognised some of her key strengths:

“I remember the day I arrived in the US as a young high school Maths teacher, just married and seeking employment. During my interview it was stated that I couldn't teach in the local schools, as I was not a citizen. I felt overwhelmed as we were living in a small university town with little opportunity.

Then I mustered my strength and approached the university departments one by one, seeking to present my experience and my skills to suit the possible opportunities. I gained a role as Computer Programmer in the Department of Education having never had any experience with computers. It was the start of a fabulous career!

I learned that a passion to learn and enthusiasm are two of my key strengths”.

Use these stories when networking, in interviews and when you are talking to your team or colleagues.

In this article Make a story out of your career , the author recommends having a one-minute story ready. It's the story of you — how you got to where you are and what your achievements are. When someone asks a question like, “How did you get into…?” tell your story”. Be mindful however about the person you are speaking to and adjust your story accordingly.

Here is Diana Ryall's example of a one-minute story:

“When I started in Apple Australia it was as a trainer in schools, supporting teachers to make the best use of their technology (Apple II). I worked about 10 hours a week. Over the next 12 years, I gradually moved up to become the Director of Education representing over 50% of the revenue of Apple Australia.

To do this, I learned as much as I could about business, sales and marketing. I was always ready to read, ask questions, help on projects and work alongside those with experience. I realised that learning this way gave me business insights that I would not gained in a more formal education.

Then taking roles including Director of Developer Relations, Government Relations, Asian Business Development and Customer Support gave me a strong grounding in even more sections of the business.

When I became MD in 1997, Apple was not in a strong business position globally. Research shows women get a chance when the business is in trouble. My broad background in so many areas was the perfect training ground to rebuild the business as new products emerged and even more exciting to build an inclusive workplace that was celebrated in 2000 when Apple in Australia was awarded the Best Employers Award”.

Whether it is from your own story or from stories of others, there is a wealth of lessons that can be learned. It could be something new that you learn about yourself or something that inspires you in someone else. This is why it is important for your story to be a positive one.

In the article Why It's So Damaging To Tell Women They Can't Have It All (And Why I'm So Tired Of Hearing It) , the author emphasises why it is important to have a positive career story with the example of someone who had been laid off from their high-profile job. Whilst interviewing for other positions with no success, the subject is left to feel like a failure, which impacts their story of themselves creating a roadblock. By just reframing their career aspirations the subject is empowered to take a new direction and change the course of their story. The author offers this advice, “Be ever-vigilant about how you view, and talk about, your life and career – the lens you use to see it through, and the language you use to describe it”.

If you are an introvert and find talking about yourself daunting, then storytelling can be a powerful tool for you to demonstrate your strengths and the successes in your career. In this blog post An Introvert's Guide to Resume Self-Promotion , storytelling in your resume is recommended to draw out your accomplishments. Steven Savage , a technical project manager who speaks, writes, and blogs on what he calls “Geeky Jobs”, says that approaching a resume as a storytelling exercise serves introverts well, “They develop elevator pitches. They develop ideas of how to talk about themselves.” There is more advice offered in this blog post Storytelling for Introverts, Part 1 , about using storytelling to build confidence.

In contrast, it is easier for extroverts to talk about themselves and share stories. However, extroverts need to ensure that their storytelling connects with their audience and comes across with sincerity. It is not always necessary to be the hero of your story, listening to others and sharing their stories along with your observations can be a more powerful way to communicate. For example, as this article 7 Networking Tips for Introverts, Extroverts, and the Socially Awkward suggests, in a networking situation you can practice empathetic listening, so that you can establish a better connection with people.

If you would like some assistance with writing your career story then why not enquire about Xplore's Executive Coaching services, one of our Senior Associates would be happy to spend some time with you to create your best story.

Tools & Resources


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Inspiration from an Xplore Associate - Claudia Cannone

Claudia uses storytelling every day, it's something she says, that comes naturally to her and so is an easy way to convey a message, be it in a work environment to her clients or at home to her children.

“I find a story in everything that I do on a daily basis that I can use when I'm facilitating a program or coaching someone. It could be something really trivial that happened in my day that can be used to demonstrate an important lesson.”

Claudia advises that it is important to tell a story for the benefit of someone else, not just for you to take the limelight. Think about how you can relate your point to the story, what your intention is with telling the story (e.g. to motivate, to inspire etc) and what the person will get out of your story.

“When you are going about your every day life, notice the co-incidences. We all have those “You wouldn't believe it….” moments, those are the ones you want to share”.

It seemed as if on cue at that moment my four month old daughter, who had been quietly playing, started to squeal with delight as she became more and more excited with her toys. When Claudia asked what she was doing I said “Oh she's just having too much fun!”, Claudia stopped me, “see, there's a story right there!” she said, “imagine you are trying to motivate your team and get them excited about a particular project, you can use this story to demonstrate the passion and excitement that you want them to feel. You can tell this story and say something like, “think back to when you were a child and had no inhibitions about the amount of excitement you felt for something, just let yourself feel that freedom of expression and have fun”.

About a week later I was listening to a Freakonomics Radio podcast and the theme was “ Think Like a Child ”. Steven Levitt summed up exactly what Claudia and I had been speaking about:

“Sometimes, doing things differently and simply, and with a kind of joy and triviality, leads you to a really special place that as an adult you don't get to go to very often”.

Later in the podcast he goes on to say:

“Enjoying what you do, loving what you do is such a completely unfair advantage to anyone you are competing with who does it for a job. People who love it they go to bed at night thinking about the solutions. They wake up in the middle of the night, and they jot down ideas, they work weekends…. And people who love things work and work and work at it.  Because it's not work — its fun ”.

So there you have it, as Claudia said, stories can come from anywhere and when you start to notice the co-incidences you can build on a story to make it relevant to your audience.

Claudia thinks it is also important to be authentic and to show some vulnerability in your storytelling, especially as a leader. People are inspired when they hear tales of making it through adversity. They connect with you on a deeper level when you give them a glimpse of real life. “We don't let people into our lives very often, we're all too busy and we go around pretending things are perfect. So people love it when they see that we've all got flaws too. It's just like the iceberg model – you only know the tip of the iceberg about someone, until they expose themselves”.

As a leader you also want to think about the stories that people will tell about you because you have the ability to make an impact on people's lives. “My husband often brings stories of his day, and particularly of his boss, to the dinner table, “ Claudia reveals, “Your staff are talking about you, what do you want them to say? What do you want your legacy to be?”

So go out there and inspire people with your stories and remember… there's no harm in having too much fun whilst you're at it!

Introducing Claudia Cannone

As an independent facilitator and communications consultant Claudia Cannone brings to Xplore over 15 years experience in Human Resource Development.

Claudia's extensive Human Resource expertise was gained in one of Australia's largest banking institutions and has centred on the key effectiveness areas of Human Resource advisory services, Management Consulting and most recently training and facilitation in her key role as National Training Manager Card Services which involved Life Coaching for middle management and executives. Her significant focus on facilitation and training has been demonstrated in the creation, design and delivery of personalised solutions to address the organisational needs of conflict resolution skilling, change management and corporate culture development across a unique and diverse operational work environment.

She has also lead the delivery of programs covering the areas of Motivation and Personal Growth, Human Resources Skills and Communication Skills via face to face and multimedia channels.
Her practical experience is supported by her formal achievement of both a Diploma of Human Resources and a Masters in Adult Education and Training.

Claudia currently runs her own consulting business, partnering with companies that she believes reflect and display her values and passion for learning.

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Unexpected Women

Our Unexpected Women book is a great example of career storytelling, containing many inspirational stories from amazing women. These women demonstrate that different paths provide challenging and interesting careers and with resilience and drive we can achieve our own goals.

If you haven't got a copy of the 2013 edition, y ou can purchase the book here or contact unexpectedwomen@xplore.net.au with your name and contact details. Stay tuned for more news on the new edition launching at the end of this year…

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Upcoming Events

Dress for Success Sydney 2014 Gala Dinner

This year's ‘Making Dreams Come' True Gala Dinner event will mark its fifth year and in celebration Dress For Success Sydney is thrilled to announce that Channel 9's Today Show host, Lisa Wilkinson will be the honoured guest speaker.

Not only will you get to see Lisa interviewed by fellow Channel 9 colleague, Financial Review Sunday's presenter, Deborah Knight, but Dress For Success Sydney aims to make your dreams come true!

Friday 17th October 2014
Sofitel Wentworth Sydney

Support Dress for Success on Melbourne Cup Day

Planning on holding a Melbourne Cup event? This year, create extra feel good factor and transform your cup day event into a Fundraiser for Dress for Success Sydney .

How you can support Dress for Success at your Melbourne Cup Event:

  • Donate a portion of your proceeds to Dress for Success Sydney, i.e. ticket sales/entry fee.
  • Hold a raffle, auction or fashion show for Dress for Success Sydney.
  • Donate all or part of your sweepstake collection to Dress for Success Sydney.

“Melbourne Cup provides a great opportunity for AMP to celebrate the fun of the cup while raising funds for Dress for Success. We have been amazed by the participation across the company. A glass of bubbles, a big screen to watch on and a few fun add-ons like fashion on the field door prizes and raffles, and dollar match funding from the AMP Foundation has helped us to raise $44,000 over the past 3 years”. Stephen Dawson, Head of Projects at AMP

Dress for Success Sydney will support you all the way to the finish line. Contact beverley.brock@dfssydney.org for tips on how to turn your event into a winner for everyone!

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In the next edition of The Xplorer... "Are you ready for your next challenge?"

We'd like your input on this subject, so head over to the Xplore LinkedIn Group page and let us know your thoughts.

Feel free to send us your recommendations of topics to discuss thexplorer@xplore.net.au .

in this edition
» The Power of Storytelling
  Management Overview
» Leaders Tell Stories
» Want help from a Gender Diversity Expert?
  For You Personally
» What's your career story?
  Inspiration from an Xplore Associate - Claudia Cannone
  Unexpected Women
  Upcoming Events
» Dress for Success Sydney 2014 Gala Dinner
» Support Dress for Success on Melbourne Cup Day
  In the next edition of The Xplorer
» Are you ready for your next challenge?
special edition
» A letter to my Granddaughters
» We waste so much talent in Australia
» The 'stupid' curve in Australian organisations
» Achieving career aspirations for women is like taking a lift!
» Giving women the skills and confidence to push up!
» Unlocking the full potential of women at work
read past newsletters
July 2014
April 2014
March 2014
November 2013
October 2013
June 2013
April 2013
February 2013
November 2012
September 2012
May 2012

special edition


This year you will be making some important decisions as you approach your final years at school. You have had so much opportunity to learn new and exciting things that will give you a wealth of opportunities in your career choice of the future.

I wanted to share with you how much things have changed for women in the last 10 years since you were a little girl. Can you imagine that in 2012, although for 20 years over 50% of the law graduates were women only a little over 10% were partners in law firms? In the pharmaceutical industries there were many women in the organisations but few in the senior roles. In the banking sector there was still over 20% differential in salaries between men and women holding an equivalent position. This was despite equal pay for equal work being compulsory since 1963.

In 2012, companies registered in Australia were asked to comment on what they were doing in order to improve the percentage of women on their boards and in senior management. Can you believe that 49% of board in the top 200 companies in Australia had no women on their boards? Only two of the top companies in Australia had female CEOs and Australia had its first female prime minister.

There was a lot of discussion and research as to why this inequality was allowed to continue. There was discussion about why Australia was behind the US, UK, NZ and South America in women achieving leadership positions. There was discussion about the communication and collaboration skills that women were more likely to display in leadership positions. There was discussion for the need for a more collaborative approach to leadership in Australia and yet women were still not achieving senior management positions.

As you look at your career options in 2022 you will find that the respected characteristics of leaders have changed over the last 10 years. The more autocratic style of leaders, seen extensive early in the 21st century has changed with a new generation of leaders who bring a wisdom of seeking to ensure our community prospers both for men and women, mothers and fathers and our environment.

There have been massive changes in the last 10 years to provide opportunities for you to achieve so many things in your life. Your career will not be limited should you choose to have children. Our community will value your involvement in their care together with the care offered by their father. You will be able to work flexibly without losing career progression opportunities and you will be paid at equivalent levels.

I hope that as you choose your future, you find a career that provides you with the opportunities and challenges to thrive at work and in your life.

Much love,
Grannie Di
July 2022 [ top ]


As a country with a skills shortage we could augment our countries skilled workers by minimising this wastage.

Of course the natural responses are we are doing everthing we can; policies and procedures, ensuring we hire the best person for the job, ensuring women know they have opportunities. You name it, someone will say they have tried it and yet our current data shows we are a long way from gender diversity and not moving much at all, and of course gender diversity is only one area of diversity we need to tackle.

Take the time to pick up 20 annual reports from the top ASX200 and skim the board of directors and senior management teams. You will likely notice that there is a major shortfall of women and non-caucasians. Nearly 30% of our population was not born in Australia and these people, like women are not moving up the ladder as fast as their qualifications might suggest they should be. This is already a problem for Australia and reduces boards and senior management abilities to see different perspectives and better align with our population.

Why do I feel so strongly on this?

Australia is the country in which I was born and raised. I was fortunate to have a father who believed university education was important for me at a time when even from selective public schools less than 50% of girls continued on to university. He saw no limitations in the opportunities I should have to learn and grow as an individual. and no limitations were placed upon me.

My career encompassed mathematics and computer science teaching, computer programming and working for Apple for nearly 20 years. In the last four years I was the Managing Director of Apple in Australia and in 2000, Apple was awarded Best Employer. Stepping down at the end of 2001, I was quite shocked that very few women held senior management positions across almost all industry sectors and after researching the situation decided that my next career would be focussed on ensuing that talented females had opportunities to achieve to their career aspirations. In 2002, I founded Xplore for Success to build career resilience in talented women within organisations.

Over the last 10 years, I have developed the Xplore programs, now delivered to over 6,000 women, founded the Chief Executive Women's Leadership program, been a joint author of the CEO Kit, spoken at over 100 women's groups and personally mentored a number of women in the "C" Suite. I believe we can make our workplaces more diverse, however, we need to keep working to achieve these goals for the future of Australia. [ top ]


We need to push women up from the lower and middle management pools and pull up from the top to ensure we get cultural change AND we need doors that open and close and allow messages and access to every level of the organisation.

Ensuring our most senior managers pull women up to achieve their potential

Over the last 10 years we have seen many initiatives in terms of policies, procedures, communication and training and yet the figures over the last 10 years have shown disappointing change. More recently we have seen the importance of the CEO and senior management teams acting as sponsors and supporters of the women coming through. This needs to be measured and be a part of personal performance of senior managers. Being the sole woman on a board or senior management team is still a lonely existence.

In the last few years there has been more discussion about "unconscious bias" and how that effects the decision making of leaders. Malcolm Gladwell in his book "Blink" expands on how quickly we make decisions based on our past experiences and belief systems. Professor Binna Kandola states "Unconscious bias is recognised as a key reason for organisations failing, despite sincere efforts, to reach diversity goals." He focuses on "resetting diversity strategies and overcoming prejudices and habits that prevent organisations reaching their diversity goals". Our senior managers must ensure they understand the biases they hold so that bringing them into the conscious mind they are able to mitigate their effect.

We also need CEO's, Chairmen and other senior men to be prepared to talk openly about the challenges, about their own biases and how they have sponsored women to take on career challenges that they know the women can achieve, even if the women are hesitant. Elizabeth Broderick, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, and her "Male Champions of Change" project has identified some of Australia's most senior men who are committed to ensuring women achieve their career aspirations. [ top ]



At Xplore for Success, we have focussed most of our energy building programs to build skills and confidence in women within major organisations. Our programs, an integrated approach of soft and hard skills, are delivered by Senior Associates with extensive business experience. The programs take place over a 3 month period so that our participants can build new skills and confidence to unlock their potential.

Our participants spend time building confidence, self-awareness and reflect on how their strengths and behaviours affect their career progression. We take time to facilitate their considering their career and life aspirations and building pragmatic ways to achieve their goals. We ensure they take personal responsibility for their career development and putting actions into place to achieve their goals.

Our participants look at their personal presence within the organisation and how they operate with other more senior managers. They identify senior managers who can mentor or sponsor them as they move through their career. They seek to build flexibility in their communication so that they can achieve better outcomes with one-on-one and group interactions. They become confident and able to address bias that managers may hold and understand how they may differ from others in their leadership style.

Many of the women who have done our programs have been promoted in the short term, have taken on high profile projects within their organisation, are more able to articulate their successes, and they make more use of their strengths and skills in their current role.
We know that we make a difference for each of our participants and over the last few years we have offered many mixed programs and have made a difference to many men in their careers as well. [ top ]


2012 McKinsey Report
[ visit website ]

First, the starting position is tough for most companies. Women are entering in large numbers (more than 325,000 women have entry-level positions at these 60 companies), but in aggregate, the pipeline suffers just as many leaks and blockages as we found last year. Many women opt to take staff roles, get stuck in middle management, or leave their organization without giving the company a chance to address their concerns.

Second, it's even clearer that changing the game for middle managers is a crucial piece of the solution. Nearly 140,000 women have already made it to midlevel management at these companies-about one-third of the women professionals in these organizations. But only about 7,000 have become vice presidents, senior vice presidents, or members of the C-suite. Finding ways to help women in the middle stay in the game and advance to higher levels-particularly through their child-raising years-would reshape the pipeline at these companies and go a long way toward bringing more talent to the top.

Third, several participating companies demonstrate that success is within reach. These companies are more diverse than their peers, and they got there in different ways. Some attract a high percentage of women to entry-level roles. Some have been able to increase the odds of promotion for women to mirror those for men. Some have found ways to keep women in line roles. And some already have significant numbers of women at the top, positioning the company for continued success.

Fourth, through more than 160 interviews with senior business and HR executives, we identified an integrated approach to addressing the barriers that hold women back: top management must be hands-on and visibly committed to achieving the gender-diversity goal; leaders should crack the code on sponsorship, holding all senior leaders accountable for creating opportunities for talented women; they must make diversity an explicit focus of talent-management processes, supported by regular discussions, granular data, and follow-up; they need to measure progress against stretch goals at every level; and diversity staff must have the clout to keep a spotlight on the issues. [ top ]

What we know

  • Women in Australia have good opportunities to gain higher education
  • Women gain consistently higher grades at university
  • Women are over 50% of finance and law graduates
  • Women start their first year in work paid less than equivalently qualified men
  • Women are not rising within organisations as quickly as similarly experienced men
  • Womens salaries for equivalent work are on average 13% below those of men
  • There has been little change in the percentage of women in senior leadership positions or directorships in the last 10 years.
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