Telstra’s initiative, Next Generation Gender Diversity: Accelerating Change for Women Leaders, uses an integrated approach to increase women’s representation at senior and pipeline levels and engage men as change agents, creating an inclusive culture of mentoring and networking. As Australia’s largest telecommunications provider, Telstra believes it has a responsibility to serve as a leader for women and other underrepresented groups across the country. Its initiative has fueled a mindset shift, culminating in a work environment that values diverse leadership. Since 2005, Telstra’s gender diversity strategy has evolved from siloed efforts into a company-wide initiative that supports women and other priority groups, including Indigenous peoples and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) employees. To achieve these goals, Telstra formed a diversity council, followed by seven diversity taskforces, including gender, to strategically implement organization-wide processes and programs.
Unique components that benefit all employees include mentoring and gender leadership programs for both women and men to reinforce the importance of gender diversity and how it can make a personal impact; an annual company-wide pay equity review program to correct anomalies based on gender; an effective succession planning process that identifies and supports talented individuals, with goals for women candidates; an external women’s leadership award, the Telstra Business Women’s Awards (TBWA), which honors outstanding women in business, community, and government sectors across Australia and helps them accelerate their advancement and realize their potential; and work-life flexibility efforts which include a gender-neutral paid parental leave policy to benefit all employees, including same-sex couples. Accountability mechanisms include monthly executive-level monitoring of gender metrics to accelerate progress and diversity goals that are tied to performance and advancement outcomes for people managers and leaders.
Next Generation Gender Diversity has delivered solid increases for women leaders at Telstra and in the community: for women in the pipeline (general managers, area managers, and managers), total share of promotions grew steadily from 29 percent in 2006 to 41 percent in 2009. Representation of women on the CEO Leadership Team increased from 6 percent to 31 percent, and the number of women corporate officers has grown from 31 percent to 35 percent during that same time period. TBWA recognizes and celebrates the role of women in business. Success stories include a former high school principal in a rural area who became State Manager of the Federal Department of Education and a small prospecting company owner who transformed her business into a powerful mining house.