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Walking on Broken Glass

A recent report outlining the continuing struggle of women to reach senior positions has brought to light the need for change within organisations with a focus on talent retention.


Dr Piterman's report The Leadership Challenge: Women in management explains that companies are not utilising the skills and expertise of one of their most important resources, their female staff, and with women making up half of the work force this is a large percentage to be overlooking.


Only a handful of females now make it to senior management, with women only holding 8.4% of executive management positions for the top 200 companies in Australia[1], and in the last decade this has hardly changed - but could be making a sudden shift with Generation Y.


Peter Butler, managing partner of legal firm Freehills, says "It is known that Generation Y has a lot of opportunities and if we muck them around and don't give them what they hoped they'd get when they arrived, they'll vote with their feet. For a law firm like Freehills it could cost up to $500,000 per person to replace and that is a powerful incentive to give women a fairer go."[2]


Dr Piterman's report, recently released at a Committee for the Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) luncheon, has addressed the concern of women in the workplace and how it could be making a huge detrimental effect on businesses in Australia.


It highlighted that formal policies to increase the number of women in management were failing because the mental model of male leadership was still deeply embedded in business.


Policies to attract and retain female talent were not sufficiently integrated into business and were often put on hold while attention was give to "core" business issues.


Meanwhile, women were struggling to gain recognition and reward in the current organisational climate and it undermined their confidence and experience of working life.


Transparency in recruitment and promotion, flexibility measures and mentors for women were all needed for success, as well as linking diversity with business outcomes and setting realistic targets for flexible work. Companies needed to recognise that culture change programs in this area were often resisted by men and women.3


Woolworths director Diana Grady has openly stated that male bosses have snubbed the launch of the report that details the issues preventing women reaching key management.


Ms Grady, board director and member of networking group Chief Executive Women, believes that Dr Piterman's report outlines that chief executives are not doing their jobs properly and at the same time are short-changing their shareholders.


"The male leaders need to understand that this is a business issue, that using their talent - and that includes the 50 per cent of the work force that are women - is critical to their long-term success."2


So how do you break through the glass ceiling and make your female members of staff a more valuable resource than what they already are? How can you engage them to make the full use of their talents?


Dr Piterman suggests that "If businesses want to attract and retain talent then diversity must be key on the agenda, driven by senior leaders and incorporated into business priorities. It's about naming the problem that has no name and we must recognise the task requires ongoing vigilance in order not to be thwarted."[3]


Many different strategies can be adopted to engage women within the workplace. Identification and support for potential female leaders, mentoring, flexible working arrangements, plus the opportunity for cross department / cross organisational exchanges are some of the solutions that can be put into practice. It can, however be difficult for companies to measure the effectiveness of these strategies in retaining female talent.


Being able to successfully implement cultural, procedural or technology change and retain talent, including up and coming females, are some of the issues that are addressed by Resurgence, a business solutions consultancy company with a difference. Their portfolio of tools analyse and provide understanding to the levels engagement, commitment and intention to leave within an organisations workforce from all levels and placements whether they're new or about to exit.


Resurgence can help provide support to the company and give solutions to identified areas within the organisation that could be considered problematic or in need of improvement. This can range from consultancy and solutions for varying business needs from working one-on-one or making adjustments to departmental teams and the overall culture.


The underlying philosophy of Resurgence's work is that the change needs to be driven from within the organisation, not by an external 3rd party. Resurgence provides the framework, methodology and tools, including measurement of the softer "people" issues. The actual change is driven by the employees themselves, ensuring that they own and take responsibility for the initiative.


Resurgence wants to set the organisations they work with as preferred employers who understand the needs of all their staff. Creating a culture where employees are satisfied which will improve organisational productivity and efficiency.


Resurgence is the sole distributor of Talent Drain products in Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia.  The TalentDrain tool kit is a comprehensive range of diagnostic tools that provides a deep insight into employee engagement, commitment and intention to leave.  Resurgence also provides unique concepts to change management that are tailor made to each client's specifications and objectives.


Click here for more information on Talent Drain's tools 


Read more about how Resurgence successfully implemented a strategy to motivate & keep female staff.


[1] Chief Executive Women,

[2] Male bosses snub glass ceiling report By Andrew Robertson ABC news 18th March 2008

[3] Glass ceiling firmly in place: report By Catherine Fox The Australian Financial Review 18th March 2008


 Resurgence 2003-7

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