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Westpac woos women to top ranks

Goal is equal representation

A new benchmark claiming a world first for women is being touted in the South Pacific by Australia and the region’s oldest and 200-year-old company – Westpac. Embracing a need for greater gender diversity at senior management and board levels, Westpac has left no stone unturned in the last four years under its influential Chief Executive, Gail Kelly. With her push for women in top hierarchy of the bank’s echelons, she has not compromised on profits as Westpac seeks another stellar year of results in 2014. Kelly is considered one of the most powerful Australian women in modern day business world in Asia/Pacific – sitting at the helm of an entity that now spans across various continents and around Oceania. Her popularity primarily stems from her push for being proactive about promoting women in the bank. “We set a goal to have 40 per cent of our senior executives as women by 2014,” Kelly disclosed to the media in Sydney at her annual lunch with senior women executives of Westpac. “But we achieved that by 2012. Now we have a new goal of having equal representation of women and men in our senior management ranks by 2017,” she declared at the lunch which Kelly started in 2010 to coincide with International Women’s Day.

Kelly’s women concept: She said that multi-billion profit-making Westpac – now with full-fledged branches in six South Pacific countries; the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Western Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu – has a broader vision for women in the bank’s future. When it comes to women on top, Westpac had “become a magnet” and a benchmark for other leading organisations in Australia and around the business world in Asia/Pacific. Emulating on Westpac’s success recorded since Kelly took over the reign in 2008 organisations around the region – be it business, government or not for profit – began hiring women because of the depths of its ranks.

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