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13 July 2016

Ainslie Van Onselen And Lucy Simpson Womens Business Expo

Recognising paid parental leave and back to work income is about creating financial choice and an even playing field for working families. It’s why I am so proud of the part we’ve played in shifting the dial on parental leave lending. Westpac Group now recognises paid parental leave and return to work income for home lending. Our research shows that 63 percent of females who own a home believe their needs and requirements from their home grow as their family expands. I am looking forward to seeing how the change in our policy impacts you, our Ruby women.

We’ve also been playing our part with women in business as well, taking a role in the Australian Women’s Weekly’s Women in Business awards, the winners of which were recently announced. Those six winners include businesses as different as tree-free tissue making and chemotherapy at home.

Looking at these women and what they have achieved made me think about our recent female business supplier day. We often get asked: How do I get my business noticed by Westpac?

We invited our Ruby members to fill out a survey about their business and what they thought they had to offer Westpac. The businesses - from technology and data providers to corporate gift suppliers and food companies - were then invited to establish stalls at Westpac's Sydney headquarters for our business supplier day Expo in May. This gave our procurement and services staff the opportunity to meet with business owners, and for potential suppliers to network with existing suppliers.

If you’re going to boost female representation in the supply chain you need to work closely with the commercial services and procurement team. You also need to analyse disaggregated gender data of your supply base, and approach women suppliers. The 16 businesses who attended our supplier day were carefully chosen both because of their business acumen but also for the needs of Westpac.

We have committed to having those new suppliers in our own supply chain by the end of September, and we will be approaching another 30 later this year to offer them a similar opportunity.

I met with many of the business owners (pictured above), including Yuwaalaraay indigenous artist Lucy Simpson, who runs textiles and design business Gaawaa Miyay. She loved the supplier day experience for its networking and learning opportunities.

WEConnect International was also there.

WEConnect International is a global corporate-led non-profit committed to increasing prosperity for women by enabling greater opportunity for their businesses within global supply chains.

I’ve also been out and about in other communities looking at where we can make a difference for women. One of our initiatives is to join up with the Victorian Sate Government on a very important pilot program to reduce bias by making CVs more anonymous.

We know a diverse workforce brings together varied perspectives, dynamic solutions and better decision-making. Westpac is trialling the pilot within business units where improvement could be made in the number of female applications to shortlist conversion rate. This will be done by removing a series of personal identifiers for applications including name, gender, culture, school, email and interests. Results will be assessed against a control group to ensure they don't negatively impact the Group's Women in Leadership objectives of 50 percent by 2017.

On a broader global level I also took part in the UN Women Empowerment Principles round table.  In a national first, Tennis Australia was asked to chair an official Australian consultation to provide input into the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's first-ever High-Level Panel on Women's Economic Empowerment. Jetstar Group Chief Executive Officer, Jayne Hrdlicka and Tennis Australia’s CEO Craig Tiley co-chaired the consultation.

The forum provided an opportunity to fuel the global agenda for economically empowering women. The objective: to identify best practice in overcoming constraints to women's economic empowerment and advocate investment in tackling the major issues involved and helping improve the lives of women across the globe.

At a more local level I attended the Royal Hospital for Women Foundation’s ‘thank you’ to their supporters and the announcement by the Foundation of its success raising more than $4.9 million for the year. The Foundation is working to ensure all women who may need access to IVF are able to get that access.

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