Gender Diversity Kit

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What is it?

The CEW Gender Diversity Kit is a valuable resource for organisations of any size wanting to attract and retain talented women. It is a diagnostic tool which allows leaders to gather the facts about gender balance within their own organisations.

The Kit is designed to help CEOs determine:

  • If the business benefits to be gained by making better use of female talent are worth the investment in time and energy;
  • What the real issues are;
  • What the priorities should be;
  • How to secure early wins and deliver lasting results.

The Kit consists of three parts: a guide, a charting tool, and instructions. It is  organised around 5 key questions which begin the process of measuring gender diversity in an organisation. The internal data you feed into it cascades from there to highlight exactly what has already proved effective or ineffective, and where you and your managers could do more.

Why did CEW produce the Kit?

Top talent is always in short supply. Knowing how to find and retain skilled women is essential for organisations to reach their potential. And as a nation, Australia needs to see all organisations in the corporate, government, academic and not-for-profit sectors performing at peak levels of productivity. Chief Executive Women is an invitation-only organisation of more than 300 women leaders in Australia. It is our mission to encourage and promote the effective use of female talent by Australian business, government and the community.

Women want to work. Women need to work. Yet still, despite high rates of participation, women are still clustered in low-paid occupations. Yes, we have seen some improvements at executive and board levels, but across all industries only a small number of women hold leadership positions.

CEW has made the Gender Diversity Kit available as a free downloadable resource because we have seen it work in more than 100 leading organisations. CEW has also worked directly with the CEOs of many organisations in the past five years. We have shown that the wastage of female talent can be stemmed with a practical, problem-solving approach.

Unless it is a strategic priority for the CEO, the leadership team and the board, your organisation is unlikely to make the changes required to capture the benefits…

The Excuses 

We’ve heard them all. Here are a few, in no particular order:

Time is the answer. As the years pass, more and more women will gradually start to fill the most senior positions within an organisation.

Wrong. Despite organisations hiring large numbers of female graduates, the percentage of women filtering through to senior levels has remained at about 10% for the past 10 years.

It’s up to HR to sort that out.

Wrong. If CEOs delegate the diversity problem to HR and then fail to follow up on it, their executive team never buys into the business case and doesn’t get involved. The changes required to successfully transform the culture of an organisation must be driven by its leaders – not the HR department.

Losing female talent is inevitable due to family responsibilities.

Wrong. Many women say they quit for family reasons, but the unspoken reality behind Australia’s disproportionately high female attrition rate is almost always due to the organisation’s culture.

Confidential exit interviews conducted by independent interviewers reveal that most women leave for “situations that offer more recognition of their talents; more flexibility in achieving outcomes, and a more inclusive culture. Not surprisingly, then, roughly 70% of women who left one company – ostensibly for family or personal reasons – are employed full-time by competing companies a year or two later”, according to Harvard academic Robin J Ely, in a speech Advancing Women to Leadership: What’s Gender Got to Do with it?  (The Committee on the Concerns of Women, Harvard Business College, June 2006.‎)

Recent research in Australia confirms that women see the main factor contributing to the lower number of women than men in senior leadership roles as directly related to how the styles of women and men are valued.  In 2011, a joint study by CEW and Bain & Company found 80% of female respondents believed main cause was “difference in styles”.

We don’t know where to start.

Easy. Every CEO knows that what gets measured gets done. The CEO Institute’s list of key 5 issues keeping CEOs awake at night has at the top the sourcing and retaining of skilled staff. The mystery then is why female talent has been allowed to drain away with no data collected and analysed to understand and stop the wastage?

‘Why don’t CEOs have programs and performance measures in place to fix the problem, as they do for other business challenges? ‘



Among the people and organisations who have supported the development of CEW’s Gender Diversity Kit, we would like to thank Diane Grady, JaneBridge, Jillian Broadbent, Joanne Martin, Anna MacPhee, Diana Ryall and Sally Herman.

We would like to thank Ernst & Young for their partnership with CEW since 2011, during which they have supported taking the Kit to more than 80 Australian organisations. We would also like to thank Bain and Company, and Hewitt and Associates for their assistance.

Download CEW Gender Diversity Kit (free)