Your gender diversity strategy

external mentoring

The latest findings by Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) show not much has changed with gender pay gap and leadership figures. They show women are earning 24% less than men in total remuneration for full time work. That represents $27,252 per year. It’s 35% if you work in financial or insurance services.

In terms of leadership, the data continues to paint a bleak picture – only 15.4% of CEOs are women.

The challenges of gender diversity within organisations can be broad and complex. The discussions are around quotas; culture; persistent bias; women’s lack of confidence in pay negotiations; reluctance to ask for promotions; lack of flexibility at the top (just 6.3% of management roles are part-time) and leaders who aren’t supporting women into the top jobs.

Yet there is a strong business case for gender diversity at senior levels and in positive news, there has been an increase in employers who have put strategies in place.  

What part does mentoring play in your gender diversity strategy?

Our experience and the research shows mentoring can be an important part of a successful gender diversity strategy.

WEGA has cited mentoring and sponsorship programs within its ‘Strategy Toolkit’ that provides advice to businesses wanting to achieve gender equality. Mentoring is seen as an important initiative in both building capability and developing a strong talent ‘pipeline to leadership’ that is gender diverse.

In addition, McKinsey (2010) found that organisations with the largest percentage of C-level women encourage or mandate senior executives to mentor women in lower-level jobs.

For the individual, we know that common outcomes of mentoring – such as increased confidence, performance, leadership skills, more strategic career plans as well as ability to take risks in their career – can all impact on career progression.

Recent outcomes from McCarthy Mentoring programs designed to support gender diversity strategies:

  • 63% of emerging female leaders selected to participate at a large ASX listed company were promoted during the program or within a year of participating
  • 67% of female participants at a global professional services firm were promoted to Partner since starting the program

Mentoring can be a powerful initiative to strengthen your gender diversity strategy.


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Why do senior women leave their jobs?

McCarthy Mentoring Executive Program Sydney

A new study by global bank Citi looked at the reasons behind their troubling attrition rate of senior females. Surveying 500 men and women who had left the organisation from around the globe, the findings were interesting and sometimes surprising.

These are a few of the discoveries:

  1. Women are loyal. Compared to the men who had left the women had worked with the organisation for longer and many took a lot longer to decide to leave.”There seems to be a loyalty dynamic at play with our senior women that is more prevalent than our male cohort,” Minashi writes.
  2. Women talk to their bosses and HR. While fewer men had discussed their plans with their bosses or HR, 90% of women talked with their manager ahead of time and 50% of women spoke with their HR partner. “I believe this represents a huge opportunity for organisations in that we can raise manager capability to hold meaningful career conversations and encourage greater connectedness in terms of talent and mobility discussions,” Minashi writes.
  3. Flexibility or work life balance is not the problem. Most women surveyed strongly disagreed that flexibility or work life balance challenges had anything to do with their decision to leave. “The message came back loud and clear – “we are here to work, we want large, complex, exciting leadership challenges. Let me worry about what is going on at home”,” Minashi writes.
  4. Family is rarely the reason women leave their jobs. The global study showed just 4% of females who left did so to stay at home. Sixty-three percent went to other corporate roles in the financial services sector – exactly the same as the percentage of men – and 22% started their own businesses.
  5. Female breadwinners are on the rise. Two-thirds of the women in the study reported that they were their family’s main breadwinner. “The mortgage, kids’ education, pensions and financial planning are being funded and supported by senior women as much as the traditional male breadwinner ever was. Promotions, pay and career path are all as equally important,” Minashi writes.
  6. Tipping point. “Female attrition seems to be led by an accumulation of micro disappointments rather than one significant event. It wasn’t the promotion people missed out on, or the change in business model but rather the growing frustration that career pace and trajectory were not aligned with expectations,” Minashi writes.

Read full article by Georgina Dent, 30 July 2014



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Global study: women and mentoring

executive mentoring

A new global report, Women as Mentors, states the benefits of mentoring to career success, professional growth and development have been widely documented. However at a time when there has been minimal growth of women in executive positions, it reviews why there aren’t more women engaging in mentoring and what women, and organisations, need to do to change this.

Here’s a brief overview of the report.


  • 78% of women in senior roles have served as formal mentors, yet very few have had a formal mentor of their own (less than 1/3).
  • Men seek and offer mentoring more readily while women need to be found and encouraged (Laff, 2009)
  • Women need to seek out mentoring for themselves and stop waiting for mentorships to be assigned
  • Senior women are willing to mentor if they are asked or are given the opportunity


  • The more ingrained mentoring is in the organisation, the more likely women are to be mentors and to accept mentorships.
  • Benefit if they “make mentoring contagious” by formalising programs, provide support and training to leaders.
  • Formal mentoring programs encourage informal mentoring (1 in 3 senior women are frequently a formal mentor when a formal mentoring program is in place, in contrast to 1 in 5 without a program)
  • Organisations with the largest % of C-level women encourage or mandate senior executives to mentor women in lower-level jobs (McKinsey 2010).

Full report here: Women as Mentors: Does She or Doesn’t She? A global study of businesswomen and mentoring, By Neal, S.; Boatman, J. and Miller, L, DDI.

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Ending the salary gap

external mentoring

The Harvard Business Review, May 2013, featured an article on the salary gap between women and men CFOs two years after starting their jobs. The key findings included:

  • there was no gap in salaries in the year they were hired
  • two years later, women trailed their male counterparts by 4.5-5%.

HBR proposed four ways to prevent this happening:

1. move – or at least look as though you are willing to. Stay in touch with headhunters, cultivate networks and stay visible to potential new opportunities

2. compete within the firm. Show that you are willing to move within the firm, seeking opportunities for additional responsibilities.

3. get it in writing. Ask for a contract cause that ensures you receive equal pay increases to men of comparable rank in comparable firms.

4. do your homework. Find out comparable payrates of others and bring it to the table when appropriate. Pay packages of public C-suite execs are a matter of record.

The research was based on 1598 newly hired CFOs at US public companies.

Source: HBR, May 2013, p30

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