The CEW Treasury Case Study

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The Treasury is the Australian government’s central economic policy agency, providing advice to the Treasurer and other Treasury Ministers.

In May 2011, Treasury’s senior leadership team considered analysis of the recruitment, retention and progression of women in the Department. They found that a significantly higher number of men were progressing to senior roles compared to women. Was this a case of cultural unconscious bias or were women simply opting out of SES opportunities?

CEW is proud to present a case study on the steps taken at the Treasury to increase gender diversity at its most senior levels over the last four years. The case study explores both the barriers and enablers for women’s progression in the Treasury.

Download the Treasury Case Study
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About the authors

Heather Photo

Co-author of the Treasury, Heather McIlwain, is the Executive Director of CEW. A corporate lawyer for 17 years, Heather has worked for KMPG as Director of Talent Strategy and prior to that has held senior HR and legal roles at Allens and Linklaters in London.
Heather leads the operations of CEW on a daily basis and is responsible for coordinating external engagement activities with CEW’s business partners, corporate sponsors, government and other not-for-profit organisations which have similar objectives to CEW for the development of women leaders.

Catherine Fox

Catherine Fox

Co-author of the Treasury Case Study, Catherine Fox is a Journalist, author, feminist, public speaker and mother of three daughters. She joined the AFR in 1989 and held
a variety of positions, including marketing and Smart Money editor and is a former Deputy Editor of AFR Boss magazine.

Catherine is an author of several books. Her latest book, 7 Myths About Women and Work, was published in 2012.

Treasury employed 881 people as at 30 June 2014, with most working in the Canberra hub and a small number based internationally. Women make up 49 per cent of this total, and 33 per cent of Senior Executive Service (SES) rank (with women at SES Band 1: 33 per cent; SES Band 2: 36 per cent; SES Band 3: 29 per cent at 30 June 2014
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It was a very male place where…there was one way of operating.
External female
Walking into Treasury is like walking into a chess club. It’s a different kind of masculine culture.
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The department has been long regarded as a prestigious and even elitist workplace attracting the cream of economics and finance graduates. It’s also sticky – many who join choose to spend their entire career in Treasury, with their work a vocation, and many describing their workplace as a ‘family’.

But historically, Treasury also had a reputation for employing a narrow cohort of professionals – the Treasury ‘type’. The workplace atmosphere, according to feedback from those both inside and outside Treasury, was perceived to be professional, conservative and very clubby, dominated by introverted intellectuals rather than alpha males.