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April 28, 2021

Women in leadership: Companies you should join to make it to the top

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.

Meet the organizations actively removing the barriers preventing women from being hired, promoted, or thriving in management positions. Their actionable plans go beyond ‘good intentions’, and you can explore them in this article.

According to the Women in the Workplace study, women leaders make the most powerful allies; they are more likely than senior-level men to adopt inclusive policies and programs, take a public stand for equity at work, and mentor and sponsor other women. This means the actions taken by companies to attract and retain women today will significantly impact the careers of all women and the gender equity goals for decades to come. And many of the companies taking such action are WORK180 Endorsed Employers.

Specific steps companies are taking to support women in leadership

We interviewed a number of endorsed employers to find out what they’re doing to break down some of the biggest barriers prohibiting women from progressing in the workplace.

Read each area or select the one that matters most to you and your career:

Recruitment: Creating a pipeline of women leaders

Gender Balance: Increasing women’s participation in management roles

Pay Equity: Closing the pay gap for all women

Development: Mentoring and sponsorship for career progression

Leadership programs: Formal leadership programs for women

Increasing women’s participation in management roles

“We have to ensure more women are in roles that are responsible for business decisions.”

Silke Munster | Philip Morris Limited


Goals endorsed employers have set to achieve a gender balance:


  • Achieve a 40:60 gender balance by 2025. This includes all classifications including senior levels. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Achieve 40% women in management by 2022. By Philip Morris Limited
  • Achieve 47-50% gender equality in executive management and senior level roles by 2025. This goal aims to reflect the workforce participation for women and is gender inclusive to recognize people who do not identify with a binary gender. By Commonwealth Bank
  • Achieve equal representation of women and men at all levels across the firm. By Deloitte
  • 42.4% of leadership positions to be held by women from 2019 to 2023, and ensure women occupy 50% of Tier 2 and 3 positions by 2023. By DMIRS
  • Minimum 40% gender representation of both men and women across all teams by 2030. Increasing gender representation across the business by supporting internal development and promotion through their Women at Lion Program. By Lion
  • At least 40% women in executive and senior management positions across the business. WooliesX, part of the Woolworths Group
  • 30% women at all levels by 2030 as a global objective. By BOC member of The Linde Group

Closing the pay gap for all women

“The gender pay gap widens for the majority of racial and ethnic groups as women move up the corporate ladder, though not to the same degree.”


Positive steps to close the gender pay gap and the endorsed employers taking them:

  • Annual gender pay audit to monitor and remediate any identified pay gaps. By Commonwealth Bank
  • Closing the gender pay gap in a one-off $6 million adjustment in 2016, and keeping it closed. By Lion
  • Focus on salary expectations, not current salary level during candidate conversations. By Transurban
  • Maintaining a pay equity gap of less than 1%. By Transurban

Find out firsthand how to get a promotion into a leadership position.
These women managed to do it even while on parental leave.

Mentoring and sponsorship for career progression

We continue to focus on delivering the right enablement and empowerment through mentoring, coaching and development, to support our women leaders and future leaders of tomorrow. I care deeply about this and look forward to continuing to drive the change we want to see.”

Kat Hartmann (GM Experience & Content) General Manager of Experience & Content | Digital Leader, Woolworths Group


Initiatives that endorsed employers have put in place to support the development of women’s careers:

  • The Mentor Program: Identifies high performers across the business, matching them with an executive member, head of department, or senior manager from a different business area to coach and mentor them in developing their career. The commitment is making the program a 50:50 gender balance in 2021. By Hutchison Ports UK
  • 2021 Female Sponsorship Program: A 12-month program that supports and enhances the careers of a select number of high potential women. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Pilot Mentorship Program: An opportunity for women to be mentored by experienced managers. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Gender Diversity Working: An Executive sponsored group. By Unitywater
  • Annual Women’s Conference: An opportunity for women in middle and senior management to network and share ideas. By Toyota Motor Corporation Australia (TMCA)
  • Lean IN circle program: Facilitated by a group coach, this six-month program sees some of Deloitte’s Directors join small cohorts of women to gain clarity about career goals, build confidence and courage, identify and overcome personal barriers, and build their network. By Deloitte
  • Partner coaching: For all first and second-year women partners, the program provides dedicated one-on-one coaching to help them navigate their new role and overcome any career and family challenges they may be experiencing. By Deloitte
  • Global Agile Working Policy: A framework against which managers and employees can have a meaningful and open conversation about what will work best for them in order to deliver their objectives and meet the requirements of the business, whilst gaining the flexibility they require to achieve a balance in their personal setting. By CSL
  • Early careers pathway: A program with tertiary providers supporting the Technology and Data Science teams. By Woolworths Group

Formal leadership programs for women

“If first-level women managers were hired and promoted like men, there would be one million more women in management over the next five years.”

Women in the Workplace


The structured programs endorsed employers have in place to accelerate women’s careers:



Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_MicrosoftProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21
  • Women Rising: A career and leadership coaching program for both Microsoft employees and its wider partner ecosystem to help women at all stages in their career unlock their full leadership potential, in partnership with Women Rising.

Combining science with the latest in gender research, leadership development and wellbeing principles, the Women Rising program is designed to support women to authentically lead, thrive in their careers, develop radical confidence, and build sustainable wellbeing. This carefully curated six-month program offers eight leadership modules including 32 masterclasses, live coaching sessions and an interactive community forum to encourage mentoring, community sharing and networking. It is run virtually to allow women from any location to participate.


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_EYProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21
  • Accelerate: Designed to accelerate the next generation of future women leaders, this two-year leadership development program provides participants access to targeted development experiences and sponsorship from senior leaders within the firm.

EY’s aspiration for the program is that each participant will graduate with a more extensive internal network, greater self-awareness and self-confidence, and a stronger sense of their personal leadership brand and authentic executive presence. Accelerate helps to activate these transformative leadership behaviors to develop a pipeline of women leaders who are bold, confident, empowered and inspiring.


  • Deloitte Inspiring Women: This is a core firm-wide strategic program designed to support Deloitte’s most talented women navigate their careers and challenges.

Available to graduates through to directors across all their offices in Australia and Papua New Guinea, the program takes place over ten months and is designed to equip 120 high potential women with the skills, support, and opportunities they need to accelerate their career growth.

Since 2015, 403 women have taken part in this initiative, and the program has seen a retention rate of 68% for participants over the last four years.

Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_DeloitteProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21
  • Return to Work: in 2019, Deloitte launched a market-leading Return to Work program designed to support individuals re-entering the workplace after an extended career break, such as caring for their family, their health or other personal reasons.

Participants undergo a structured induction and training to ensure a smooth transition back into work, coupled with tailored learning and development within a specific business area, plus any technical training they may require.


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_DownerProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21
  • LEaD TogetHer: Downer has just launched its first group-wide leadership program for women to develop them at all levels across the organization, supporting Downer’s strategic objective of increasing women’s participation in management roles.

LEaD TogetHer includes a series of face-to-face development sessions and online learning modules that will increase knowledge, foster collaboration, enhance leadership exposure, provide networking and wellness opportunities to enrich the professional experiences of all participants.

The program, which starts in June 2021 and will run for 12 months, also aims to identify potential risk factors and establish safeguards for women employees. 

Woolworths Group

  • ElevateX: As part of the diversity and inclusion guild, this program stream is focused on elevating women within WooliesX team. ElevateX is working on a sponsorship program aimed at assigning sponsors to high-potential women employees.
  • WooliesX Technology Leadership: This program is designed to increase the number of applications from women for WooliesX’s multitude of exciting technology, data and digital roles. (2020 recruitment statistics show that only a third of applicants were women).

“At WooliesX, we are passionate about supporting great career experiences for all our team. Given the amazing opportunities we have in tech, data and digital we are in a fantastic position to support women who want to grow their capabilities in these areas. The numbers are not where they need to be and we are committed to making change to improve the balance.”

Cassie Soady | (GM Culture and People), Woolworths Group


Gender Equity_WomenInLeadership_TransurbanProgramme_WORK180Blog_Apr21
  • Emerging talent programs: Females Excelling in Engineering and Technology (FEET) is Transurban’s national emerging talent program, which has two intakes in summer and winter. While students receive mentoring, Transurban’s emerging people leader talent are given the opportunity to take higher responsibilities. This program also provides a pivotal pathway for women professionals in STEM to gain industry experience.
  • Graduate program: A two-year leadership program that supports around eight graduates to build a broad capability, which will enable flexibility and breadth. The program has a minimum commitment of a 50:50 gender split.
  • Realize your potential: A program specifically designed for women in leadership, which provides internal training.

Find a workplace that will support your leadership career goals



Women’s full and effective participation and equal leadership opportunities is just one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals provide a clear blueprint for achieving gender equity by 2030 — a mission both WORK180 and 193 Member States of the United Nations are firmly committed to.

The WORK180 Endorsed Employers featured in this article have specifically committed to taking affirmative steps towards this goal. To find a role with one of these supportive employers, check out our job board today.

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About the Author

Looking for a new opportunity?

Our transparent job board only has vacancies from employers we endorse and lets you see what benefits, policies and perks come with the job.