I’m often asked for my views on women in executive positions and particularly about women in senior roles in the ICT industry. Reflecting on this today – International Women’s Day, I believe diversity in leadership is vital. Our leaders need to be representative of our customer base. And gender diversity remains a big challenge for us.
Australia has a poor record of attracting women into traditional ICT jobs. In 2008, only 23 per cent of students commencing ICT in tertiary institutions were women. And this is largely representative of the population of women in the ICT workforce.
At Telstra, we have a clear agenda to attract more women to our business and our efforts are really starting to pay off. Since 1 July 2011, we have seen an ongoing increase in female representation for Telstra as a whole from 31.3 per cent to 31.6 per cent and importantly at the executive level from 22.7 per cent to 24.4 per cent. Women represent an ever increasing proportion of new employees joining Telstra, comprising 42.4 per cent of new employee numbers since 30 June last year.
Last week I was given an exciting opportunity to oversee the Global Telecom Women’s Network (GTWN) in Australia. I was named Australian President at the organisation’s 20th anniversary gala dinner in Barcelona.
GTWN provides a forum for senior executive women in telecommunications, digital media and related industries to meet and exchange views on issues of importance to the future of the sector. We were a Gold sponsor of the event which was attended by 175 global telecom leaders. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet leaders from across the globe and get a better understanding of where the industry is heading.
There are so many talented women in this industry and organisations like GTWN give executive women working in ICT the opportunity to get together and network and mentor our future leaders. It is women like Hilda Clune, CIO PwC Australia, Tracey Fellows, Area Vice President for Microsoft Asia Pacific, Pip Marlow, Managing Director of Microsoft Australia and Dr Megan Clark, Chief Executive of CSIRO, who will undoubtedly inspire other women in the industry to achieve their best.
I am optimistic about the future for women in ICT. Technology advances have made careers in this industry far more appealing for many women. Telstra actively promotes and supports a flexible workplace. Recently we conducted some research into the work practices of Australians. We found Australians are working remotely more frequently now because of better technology and increased flexibility of employers. This is good news not just for women, but for all workers.
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