Doing more to encourage women into top jobs in the public sector

By The Mandarin

May 10, 2017

Only 12 of Victoria’s 79 local government bodies are currently being led by women, and according to the CEO of City of Glen Eira Rebecca McKenzie, it’s time for this to change.

McKenzie, who is the president of Local Government Professionals (LGPro), said given local government is the closest tier of government to the community; this disproportionate gender balance is a crucial issue that needs to be fixed.

It’s also the reason she has agreed to chair a panel of judges for this year’s Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) awards, which will shine a spotlight on dynamic, inspirational female leaders working in the Victorian Public Sector, highlighting their work and creating role models for other females in the sector.

“For many years local government, like all sectors, has seen an increased emphasis on equality of opportunity and diversity programs,” McKenzie said.

“Despite all this focus, disappointingly women remain drastically under-represented at a CEO level, and to a lesser extent at executive level.

“I’ve always been a champion for appointment on merit, and will continue to be.  But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be doing more to ensure that the candidate pools from which we select have a better balance of male and female candidates.

“Development programs, secondment opportunities, coaching and targeted executive search can all help bring that diversity.”

McKenzie said awards programs such as the Top 50 Public Sector Women, held in conjunction with recruitment and HR consulting firm Davidson, are a step in the right direction.

“The 2017 President of each of the sector’s three peak bodies is currently a woman (LGPro, MAV and VLGA) so I expect that that will also bring a greater sharpness of focus on the opportunity for change,” she said.

“The research that LGPro has led in the sector indicates that the biggest challenge remains the age old issue of confidence.

“We know that women will be less likely to apply for a role unless they feel that they are able to satisfy 100 per cent of the requirements of the role from day one, whereas some men will be more prepared to apply first, and work out the rest later.

“Finding ways to build women’s confidence and enable them to develop the broad leadership skills that will support success upon appointment should therefore be a priority focus for us.”

It’s for this very reason McKenzie strongly urges women who work across Local and State Government, and Statutory Authorities in Victoria to apply.

“The Victorian Public Sector has a significant number of exceptional female leaders building high performing teams and transforming their communities,” she said. “This is our chance to honour and support them even further.”

Leaders who make it onto the Top 50 list for 2017 will receive the following:

  • Publication on the inaugural Top 50 Women Public Sector Women list. Finalists will be invited to attend an exclusive event where all Listees will be announced.
  • Exposure and networking opportunities with successful leaders in the public sector.
  • Invitations for the Top 50 Alumnae to networking and thought leadership events held by Davidson.
  • Opportunity to receive one of six Scholarships to Davidson’s Leadership Acceleration Program
  • Comprehensive Media Kit to promote your inclusion on the list and further build your brand.
  • Dedicated PR campaign profiling the Listees on Davidson social platforms and third party publications.

The Judging panel is made up of a cross section of high level public sector officials, specifically chosen for their broad experience across a variety of levels of government in Victoria.

Rebecca’s fellow judges are:

  • Adam Fennessy, Secretary Department Environment, Land, Water & Planning & Deputy President of IPAA Victoria
  • Corey Hannett,  Coordinator General, Major Transport Infrastructure Program
  • Dr Gillian Sparkes, Commissioner for Environmental Sustainability Victoria
  • Jeroen Weimar, CEO Public Transport Victoria
  • Tracey Slatter, Managing Director Barwon Water
  • Kym Peake, Secretary Department of Health & Human Service

Entries are now open for the Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) and nominations can be submitted.

The Top 50 Public Sector Women (Victoria) list will be announced at an exclusive event during Public Sector Week at the Melbourne Town Hall.

Entries close Monday June 12, 2017, for more information go to:

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