WPP AUNZ has set a target of 50:50 gender distribution in senior leadership roles across the company by 2021.
The target, announced by Executive Director and interim CEO John Steedman, joins a range of other initiatives the company has undertaken over the past two years to ensure a workforce that is diverse, balanced, and inclusive.
“We are absolutely committed to building a more inclusive and diverse group of companies, and this latest initiative is a fundamental step to ensure that we have the depth and breadth of thinking that we need as our industry continues to transform,” Steedman explained.
“Diversity is not a women’s issue, it is a business imperative. It demands all of us to be smarter, more open and optimistic about our future. Any leader appointment is based on ability; however, we will ensure that we have a strong pipeline of diverse candidates when filling these senior roles.”
Steedman said while WPP AUNZ had introduced a range of already successful diversity initiatives he recognised that there was still work to be done and called on other industry leaders to join in pushing for greater inclusion.
“Whilst diversity is so much more than gender, we do have a gender imbalance at the senior levels with 39% of the senior roles currently being held by women across WPP AUNZ. We are committed to changing the gender imbalance with this target.”
During the past two years WPP AUNZ has introduced Walk the Talk – which aims to empower women with the tools to lift up into senior roles. The past two years have seen almost 300 women participate in the program.
It has also signed up to the Diversity Council of Australia and Diversity Works in New Zealand and is running ongoing company-wide diversity and inclusion surveys to benchmark expectations, plus using alternative recruitment arrangements to ensure a diverse workplace including: Career Seekers (for asylum seeker and refugee interns); Career Trackers (for indigenous and Torres Strait Islander recruitment); and Talent Rise (education and job-ready programs for marginalised youth).
Last year it also launched a market leading parental leave policy in Australia, for both primary and secondary carers, as part of a revamped talent retention and attraction policy. It will see employees paid up to 16 weeks full salary depending on length of tenure, and was developed after benchmarking Australian industry standards, teamed with a close examination of what employees need and want.
“The rationale for all these programs is simple; every person, regardless of their age, caring responsibilities, cultural background, disability, gender, Indigenous background, sexual orientation and socio-economic background deserves to feel like they have a workplace where they belong. Where they are valued for their thinking and contribution. And this sense of belonging will ultimately result in a better business, and better industry for us all,” Steedman concluded.