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Carol Schwartz talks Pathways to Politics on ABC TV

By | May 4th, 2017

WLIA’s Founding Chairperson Carol Schwartz appeared on ABC News Breakfast to discuss this year’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women and why it’s so important to see gender balanced leadership in our parliaments.

Carol Schwartz backs UniMelb’s Pathways to Politics Program for Women

By | November 26th, 2015

The first Australian university program to address the continued under-representation of women in parliament has been launched today by the Hon Julie Bishop MP, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, Carol Schwartz AM and the University of Melbourne at Parliament House, Canberra.

The ‘Pathways to Politics Program for Women‘ will be delivered by the University of Melbourne to female graduate students and alumni, and is designed to provide the support and training necessary to aspire to elected office at local, state and national levels.

The Program was initiated and made possible by a generous donation from the Trawalla Foundation established by the Schwartz family.  The Foundation invests in social enterprises that demonstrate innovation and leadership in their area of social impact, such as the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia.

Ms Carol Schwartz AM, Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, said that it was a privilege to contribute to the advancement of women in political life.

“Currently women occupy fewer than 30% of Australian parliamentary positions, which is considerably lower than our international counterparts.  So I am thrilled to be launching a non-partisan program designed to help bridge the gap,” Ms Schwartz said.

‘Pathways to Politics’ is modelled on the ‘From Harvard Square to the Oval Office‘ program, offered through the Kennedy School at Harvard University, and will be based within the Melbourne School of Government.

Participants will be given the opportunity to learn from members of parliament, campaign strategists, advisors, consultants and elected officials. It is anticipated that graduates of the US and Australian programs will form part of an international network of women in office.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor, Professor Glyn Davis AC, said the program reflected the University’s commitment to support social change.

“The University is very excited to launch a program designed to ensure women are encouraged and supported in their contribution to public debate and well represented in government roles,” said the Vice-Chancellor.

In its first year, ‘Pathways to Politics’ will be open to University of Melbourne graduate students and alumni.

Prospective students can register for information online.

WLIA’s Schwartz and Mullins featured on GAZELLA

By Gazella | November 22nd, 2015

Professional background…

AM: I started out working in communications, primarily in advertising and social media. I was writing a blog about politics and promoting that on Twitter, which is where I met Carol. I have always been passionate about women in leadership and gender diversity, so it seems like the two passion areas collided with this role. I came on board to run the Women for Media initiative and am now the Executive Director. I look after all of our activities and have been spearheading some new initiatives with Carol around improving women’s visibility and challenging norms and stereotypes around what a leader looks like.

CS: I started off life as a lawyer and quickly decided that I didn’t want to practice law. I opened a couple of new businesses, did some small property developments with a girlfriend who was an interior designer and then joined a family business in property where I worked for almost two decades. Whilst I was doing that, I became involved with the Property Council. I was Victorian President and then I became National President.

WLIA-gazellaWomen for Media initiative…

AM: There are currently over 170 female leaders from the sectors of business, finance, not-for-profit and government involved in the Women for Media database. Members of the initiative are generally CEO’s, Chairs, non executive directors, and people in the C-suite. It’s basically a go-to place for journalists and event organisers to find female leaders for an interview, or a panel. We’re trying to break down the barriers between journalists and female leaders to ensure they’ve got instant access to each other in order to develop strong relationships. Hopefully one day we’ll become redundant because people have created ongoing connections through the database and have been inspired to contact each other on their own initiative.

CS: It’s actually a key issue for us, because it’s all about role modelling. If you open up the Financial Review you wouldn’t be too surprised to think there are no women in corporate Australia. Not only in the property sector but in all aspects of that corporate world. It’s a subliminal reinforcement of stereotypes and as women we are all affected. Interestingly enough, it also affects one’s confidence and courage. One doesn’t put oneself forward if you’re not seeing anyone else do it. There’s too much exceptionalism around the role of women. There may be one or two women who appear constantly, but the other women look at them and say, “Well, they’re the exception,” and the guys look at it and say “Well, they’re the only two women that exist.” There’s this constant subliminal reinforcement around what the roles of women are.

Property Male Champions of Change…

CS: Culture is difficult to change as we all know. I think the Property Council’s Male Champions of Change has been a fantastic initiative. It’s exposed both Amy and myself to the goodwill and commitment of the men at the top of this industry, to change the status quo. I’ve been incredibly impressed by the initiative and the forcefulness with which the male industry leaders are really approaching this.

AM: We’re excited. Initially it was great to have the discussions about where everyone is starting from and listening and learning on the issue of gender diversity and women in leadership. Now the group has formulated action plans which has got people really enthused and invigorated because they can see that there is movement.  There is a genuine commitment to taking action individually and collectively as well as holding themselves and each other to account.

CS: It’s really interesting to see the cohort actually self regulate around what is acceptable and what isn’t. It’s been terrific. Without a doubt positioning yourself within the action on this is a competitive business advantage. If you have a look at the really bright young women coming out of various courses, why wouldn’t you want to have them working in your organisation? You’re missing out on fifty percent of the talent pool by not recruiting from the pool of women.

AM: I think retention of employees is one of the biggest talent issues and comes down to cultural factors; the company culture needs to be one that values diversity and inclusion. You have to be able to look around and see diversity, not only at your level but higher up. To see that there is actually a career trajectory and that you are likely to be promoted on talent and potential.

On quotas…

CS: Bring them on. We’ve been talking about self-regulation and targets for a long time. I have no doubt that there are very talented women out there who are just not being given the opportunity. My view is that if we brought in quotas as a temporary measure and changed the culture through a paradigm shift so that we immediately placed the women in these roles; we’d adapt. They’d perform just as well as the men do. Women need to stand shoulder to shoulder alongside men in equal numbers. There was some recent research out of Norway that showed if there aren’t quotas, you don’t get that paradigm shift. I’m very interested to see what’s going to happen out of the Male Champions of Change initiatives. My feeling is that if there is no movement and the men see there is no movement, then they’re the ones who are going to be calling for quotas. If they can’t get that change to happen organically then they’re the ones who are going to say, “Let’s bring in quotas as a temporary measure, and let’s see where we are in five years time.”


AM: I’m inspired by people who have a strong set of beliefs and values that are guided by equality of opportunity and those who then go out and take action on it. That’s what I’m driven by and what I aim for in all that I do.

CS: I think that I can take something out of everyone I meet. You can never predict who you’re going to learn from and what insight you’re going to get from a conversation you have. I think that I have multiple influences, constantly. Interestingly enough, for someone of my age, it’s very, very important to stay close to the generation below us and the generation below that. To expose ourselves to the way they’re thinking. We have such entrenched social problems. When I look at people of my generation, who have been around for a while trying to solve these issues, we rack our brains as to how we are going to do it, yet when I talk to somebody in their twenties, they potentially have a whole new way of looking at the issue. An innovative way of approaching it and perhaps not the skepticism, or cynicism, that you invariably develop as you get older.

Advice for young professionals…

AM: Make the most of every opportunity. I’ve never said “no” to something relevant to my ambitions or interests. That’s how I got to where I am now. I was confident and just said, “Yes’, I’d love to!” So don’t let fear get in the way. Who knows what new ideas and directions could eventuate from the opportunities that come your way.

CS: As a follow on to that, my advice would be to be courageous and don’t be modest. If you’re not going to talk about your achievements, then nobody else is going to. I know that some women find that very difficult, but you’ve got to do it. It’s the way we are socialised; it’s not ladylike… you can’t beat your boyfriend at table tennis, boys don’t like to be beaten by girls. It’s ingrained at a young age.

My mother always told me…

AM: …to “always do your best, you can’t expect any more of yourself than that.” It puts things into perspective and re-frames any challenge.

I tell my daughters…

CS: …to buy shares in companies if they want to change the way those companies operate. Go along to the AGM and if you have any questions to ask, you stand up and ask them. Ask them the questions; “Where are the women? Where are the women on the executive team? Where are the women on your board? What is your policy about women in leadership?” That is the only way that change is going to happen. At the end of the day, it’s the exercise of financial power which is going to make corporate Australia stand up and listen.


We met this powerhouse pair at a Management Club dinner at the Lyceum Club a few months ago. Carol was the keynote speaker and had us both enthralled with her passion and powerful voice. She spoke about the amazing work that she was doing with Amy and so we approached the pair for an interview. We finally met at their phenomenal office on Flinders Lane. Both these women have everything so spot on. Their words cannot fail to resonate with women in any profession. Their call for accountability and activity, is so crucial if we are to continue to inspire the next generation of professional women and bring balance to leadership in Australia. We hope that this interview brought you a slice of their brilliance. 
To view the original post, click here.

The Male Champions of Change on the actions they’ve taken thus far

By Women's Leadership Institute Australia | September 9th, 2015

The following videos were aired on August 25th at the Male Champions of Change (MCC) Business Forum in Sydney. They are short, engaging and useful videos about the key areas the MCCs have taken action on: setting targets with teeth, committing to the Panel Pledge, tackling family violence and making ‘all roles flex’.

WLIA supports Xenophon’s gender balanced government boards Bill

By Women's Leadership Institute Australia | July 30th, 2015

The Women’s Leadership Institute Australia (WLIA) has made a submission to the Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee expressing support for the Australian Government Boards (Gender Balanced Representation) Bill 2015, introduced by Senator Nick Xenophon on June 24, 2015.

To view WLIA’s submission, visit the Committee’s website.

To view the Australian Government Boards (Gender Balanced Representation) Bill 2015, visit the Bill’s homepage here.

The 30% Club launches Women for Media UK branch

By Women's Leadership Institute Australia | May 20th, 2015

New UK database, based on Australian initiative, connects journalists to female leaders in business, finance, government and not-for-profit sectors who are available for media comment

HelenaMorrissey-WFMlaunch20th May 2015, London – The 30% Club has today launched Women for Media UK, a database of female leaders in business, finance, government and not-for-profit sectors who are available for media comment on key topics of the day.

The database directly connects journalists to these experts with the aim of raising women’s profiles and visibility throughout the media and beyond, as well as providing journalists with easy access to senior female thought leaders.

Women for Media UK is a program based on the founding initiative Women for Media which was established by the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia in 2012 and continues to increase the visibility of Australia’s most senior female leaders as thought leaders and experts in the media.

The launch of the UK database was held in Central London and was attended by over 60 female leaders and journalists from across a broad spectrum of disciplines and media forms, including national publications, magazines and blogs.

Helena Morrissey CBE, CEO, Newton Investment Management and 30% Club Founder, opened the launch with a welcome speech and was then joined on a panel discussion by Madison Marriage, Financial Times journalist; Carola Hoyos, Recruitment Editor at the Financial Times; and Emma Ross-Thomas, London Bureau Chief at Bloomberg News.

Speaking after the panel, Helena Morrissey said: “Having more women speak up in the media on a wide range of topics is an important aspect of the 30% Club’s continuum of change towards a society where a mix of men and women at all levels is just seen as the norm.”

“We very much hope that this database, which has been carefully created with the Australian founding initiative and which will continue to grow, will help solve that, and be useful for both journalists and women looking to build their profiles,” Ms Morrissey said.

Speaking on the Women for Media UK launch, Carol Schwartz AM, Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia and prominent company director and philanthropist, said: “We are very pleased to have partnered with Helena Morrissey and the 30% Club to bring Women for Media to the UK.”

“This is an important issue globally and with the launch of the UK branch we hope to see the number of senior female leaders commenting in the media grow and the benefits of diverse thought leadership in public discourse flow from that,” Ms Schwartz said.

UK Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan said: “Women make up just over half of the population. A House of Lords inquiry earlier this year found that men interviewed as experts outnumber women four to one on radio and TV. This means that they are seriously under-represented on our media channels.

“This database from the 30% Club will make it easier for the media to find female commentators on a wide range of topics, not just those considered to be ‘women’s issues’.

“We all benefit when the opinions we hear reflect the society we live in and I look forward to seeing and hearing from more female role models.”

The Women for Media UK initiative forms part of the 30% Club’s continued campaign to get 30% women on FTSE-100 boards by end 2015 – currently 23.6% up from 12.6% in 2010. The database aims to address the current under-representation of female voices in the media by providing journalists with an easy to access database of women who are willing and well qualified to contribute to public discourse in the media.

For more information, please contact:

Amy Mullins, Executive Director, Women’s Leadership Institute Australia: +61 3 9653 5316 or [email protected] (Founding Women for Media initiative)

Jamie Brookes: (+44) 020 3128 8529 or 07769 900 417 (Women for Media UK)

Georgina Whittle: (+44) 020 3128 8528  [email protected]