• WINDO Sisters

How Commsec is developing its women leaders of tomorrow

Updated: Feb 26, 2019

By Amanda Blennerhassett

We recently had the opportunity to chat to Allister Logan, State Manager at Commsec and Training and Development Lead for Women in Commsec, the stockbroking division of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

WINDO: Allister, what do you believe are the challenges women currently face stepping into leadership in the workplace?

AL: Well, there are a number of issues. The first is having enough women in the pipeline to become leaders. The second is helping women find a way to be authentic and lead in an empowered feminine way, rather than masking their feminine traits. The third is backing themselves in their role, not holding back if they don’t feel they tick all the boxes, and therefore developing the attitude and drive to succeed in leadership.

WINDO: What are the key areas Commsec is focusing on to support women in the workplace?

AL: We're focusing on empowering all of our female staff, whether they want to be leaders or not. That begins with communicating a consistent message about what we’re trying to achieve at Commsec and why. We're sharing about the advantages of greater gender diversity and talking to some of the science behind that. It's not simply about balancing skirts and shorts. Gender diversity makes a difference to the output that we create as a company, including profit. One of the initiatives we are actively encouraging is secondments, which help our female staff build skills and expertise in preparation for leadership roles.

We've learned that you can’t just have women championing women in leadership. You have to have males championing women.

WINDO: Commsec has the resources to invest in research and development for its Women in Commsec Program. What do you think other businesses can learn from your work?

AL: We've learned that you can’t just have women championing women in leadership. You have to have males championing women.

It’s often men hiring, so they need to be on board with the reasons why we’re doing this. They need to mentor and build up women in non-traditional ways, not just beers after work or on the sport field. So we're encouraging our senior male staff to create other opportunities that are less daunting for women and more inclusive.

We’ve found men have been quite open to this but they don’t necessarily know how, so we’re providing a structure and showing them how to do this in a way that’s appropriate and not awkward. It doesn’t always happen as naturally as the way guys mentor guys, so it's about putting the effort in.

We are also working on educating our women in 'soft skills' – body language, how to interview, how to go for jobs and promote themselves with confidence.

WINDO: How are you measuring the success of your Women in Commsec Program?

AL: We acknowledge the current bias in the financial services sector. Commsec is a stockbroking company with around 70% male managers, and 30% female managers. All the major financial consulting firms are writing about the same skew. So that's one measure.

However, we are really focusing on measuring the happiness of our people. As we engage our women, we are seeing much happier female staff and much lower staff turnover. We’re retaining our talent, which gives them a greater opportunity for leadership.

WINDO: Why do you think it is important to share these learnings?

AL: It's important for everyone to understand the benefits of empowering women in the workplace because your people are your company. If you have happy people and the right mix of people, it will ultimately drive the outcomes you want to achieve in your business, including profit. The profit comes with the right people.

Allister Logan will speak at the session, 'Women Leading', at the 'When Sleeping Women Wake, Mountains Move' Community Leadership Conference on Wednesday March 6, 2019 at The J Noosa.

Tickets on sale now via this link.

About this contributor

Allister Logan is a leader, coach and agent of change. He has worked with the Commonwealth bank for 11 years in diverse roles including work with the indigenous community.

Allister is passionate about leadership and diversity of thought. He currently works within the Women in CommSec board as the lead for training and development to empower the next generation of female leaders at CBA.

He has also trained as a transpersonal coach and created a mindful men movement helping blokes connect on a deeper level and support each other through everyday challenges.

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