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Press Release

What women really want in the boardroom

Turning promise into practice for International Women’s Day, we take a look at what really makes female leaders tick, and why businesses are letting themselves down in achieving gender diversity.

There’s a big gap in how businesses approach leadership and what female leaders are looking for, which explains why many businesses often say, there aren’t enough females coming up the leadership pipeline.

Our research investigates why women are seeking alternatives to climbing the corporate ladder and what would make them consider sticking around.

What women really want – bridging the gap

Banish the brown cardigan boardroom rules

  • Collaborate don’t delegate; female leaders want a business environment that celebrates an inclusive approach to leadership. Embracing diversity of thought in problem solving, over the traditional style where decisions taken at the top and passed down the chain to execute.
  • 42% of female leaders said communication was the top leadership attribute. However, unlike 32% of their male counterparts who also cited communication as the top attribute, female leaders are looking to create conversation and build a community through inclusive decision making. Diversity of thought increases the chance of reaching a successful outcome.
  • Male respondents rated communication as important for very different reasons. They emphasised that good articulation of the decisions made by management and communication of how to achieve the company vision makes for good leadership.
  • It’s time to stamp out the unconscious bias that suggests leaders must be hungry, single-minded and willing to sacrifice everything to get ahead. Female leaders would rather work with their peers, than compete with them.

Recognition, remuneration and flexibility is the new black

  • Recognition of ability and fair remuneration were the key drivers for women seeking leadership positions. Many stated that they had to actively seek out recognition and reward.
  • Flexibility in how they drive business success and effecting change was another key driver for women seeking leadership positions. Workplace flexibility will continue to become increasingly important, and not just to keep women climbing the corporate ladder. “The next generation of leaders – the millennials, both male and female – want work life balance and flexibility. They want to work from home or be able to take a two year career gap if they choose to, whether to have children or go travelling, or volunteer. The millennials will be prepared to move jobs if they don’t obtain this level of flexibility,” said Kim Schmidt, senior adviser on leadership, talent and culture, Grant Thornton Australia.


We’ve done the math; we know the business case for gender diversity:

  • $665 billion foregone in potential profit. Our global study shows listed companies with male only boards in the US, UK and India underperformed their diversified counterparts by $665 billion.

The stats show that the number of females in leadership positions in Australia has stalled over the last 10 years. We have the business case for diversity and the knowledge to bridge the pipeline gap. It’s time for corporate Australia to pull its socks up and start effecting change.

Click here to access the Grant Thornton Global Study of Women in Business or contact me on the details below if you would like to discuss further.


For more information please contact:
Helina Lilley, National Public Relations Manager
T +61 2 8297 2421, M  0437 725 520, E