Sponsorship programs and more opportunities for female public servants to hone their leadership skills are among a series of new measures aimed at getting more women into leadership roles in the public sector.

The initiatives form part of the State Government’s new Gender Equality in Leadership Strategy being launched today.

Status of Women Minister Zoe Bettison said the public sector can only benefit from more women in leadership roles.

“There are tremendous benefits to be realised by appointing more women to senior leadership positions across the public sector,” Ms Bettison said.

“Research clearly shows that promoting gender equality in leadership and decision-making roles brings greater innovation, improves productivity and delivers better financial performance,” she said.

“These measures will help promote equality in the public sector and offer new opportunities for women to strengthen their skills and take on those leadership roles within Government agencies.”

Measures to be implemented include:

  • A succession planning initiative in which Chief Executives prepare a list of suitable replacement candidates, consisting of at least 50 per cent women;
  • A ‘reverse mentoring’ program where aspiring female executives mentor men in senior management roles to help managers understand  women’s experiences in the public sector;
  • A pilot Sponsorship Program to proactively support women through career progression;
  • A new education program to be rolled out across the public sector that challenges unconscious bias; and
  • Courses that help aspiring female leaders in the public sector develop and enhance their skills.

Commissioner for Public Sector Employment Erma Ranieri said the initiatives would help address the ongoing gender imbalance in the senior levels of Government agencies.

“When a target was set to achieve a 50-50 split in the gender of people leading the public sector more than a decade ago, less than a third of executives were women,” Ms Ranieri said.

“Since then, we’ve made considerable progress – with 45% of executives, or 557 out of 1249 executives, and just 37%, or 172 out of 464 members of the South Australian Executive Service, now women.

“But the fact is there are still plenty of intelligent, talented women working in the public sector who haven’t reached their full potential.

“This is not a reflection on those employees – rather it highlights the fact that systems need to change to recognise the full breadth of the skills base that is on offer in the public sector and that there are no structural or cultural barriers that impede their career progression.

“Through this Strategy, we hope to usher in a new generation of female leaders, to the benefit of the broader public sector.”

The strategy can be found at www.publicsector.sa.gov.au