Consulting firms report progress addressing gender equality issues

Wednesday, 01 November, 2017


Flexible work arrangements, sexual harassment policies and non-gendered parental leave are amongst the key policies identified in a progress report published today by a group of executives from some of Australia’s largest consulting firms seeking to address systemic gender equality issues.

The Consult Australia Male Champions of Change is a consortium of 12 chief executives and managing directors responsible for over 20,000 employees in the built environment, who co-signed a charter in 2016 to collaborate and advance gender equity and women in leadership. Today’s report publicly details each firm’s progress on action areas around embedding diversity and inclusion, driving cultural change and supporting women to leadership.

“As engineers, architects and planners, we excel at connecting communities through road and rail, yet have struggled to connect fairly and equally with each other,” said Peter Bailey, chair of Consult Australia’s Male Champions of Change group. “We help build cities of skyscrapers and stadia, yet must do more to help build a society in which all can contribute on a level playing field. This is why we are committed to collaboration, publishing in detail our progress on gender diversity and holding ourselves to account.”

The report shows strong progress on essential policies and practices, with all firms having started or implemented flexible work arrangements, sexual harassment policies, pay gap redress, non-gendered parental leave and unconscious bias training. Standout projects include:

  • Shared Care, which provides a financial incentive for a partner to become a primary carer during a child’s first year of life.
  • Sponsoring Women, which matches senior males with high-performing females and thus connects them to opportunities to advance their career.
  • Engaging Men, a program inviting male managers to deeply reflect on the benefits of gender equality — particularly for men; to learn about the systemic and cultural barriers that impede women’s progress; and to co-design solutions to overcome barriers and create equitable and inclusive cultures.

“Gender equality is not sectoral or specific to one firm, it is a challenge for all of society,” said Elizabeth Broderick, founder of the Male Champions of Change. “I commend the contribution of the Consult Australia Male Champions of Change. In business, they are the fiercest competitors, but on the issue of gender equality they come together as one.”

Priority areas the firms are focusing on include engaging male middle managers in creating more inclusive workplace cultures and increasing the proportion of women at the most senior levels. The report finds that 50% of firms have measurable diversity targets in place — a figure expected to rise to 100% by 2018.

“Our Male Champions of Change are determined to get this right,” said Consult Australia CEO Megan Motto. “We are implementing world-leading best practice, not setting impossible targets, but systematically making changes and committing to a better, fairer future for our industry through our actions.”

For more information on the group, visit

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