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The successful experiment

07 March 2011

Happy International Women's Day!

And, as you can see, look what we've done with Ruby to celebrate. Our Ruby is growing up strong and healthy and she's here to stay. (In fact, she's been so popular we've rebranded our best initiatives in Women's Markets with her name.)

Ruby, you see, has been a hugely successful experiment. (There is no one in the finance industry with a standalone site similar to Ruby. She was and remains the first of her kind.) And now, we're taking you and her to new levels of interaction.

We know Rubyites are leaders in thought and action. We know you're passionate about the issues affecting women. We know you're diverse of thought, sophisticated, connected and eager to share who you are and what you do with others. This Rubylution (Ruby evolution) moment is about giving you the place to come and do just that - network, profile yourself and what you do, meet and really connect with other like-minded women.

Creating a truly visible profile on Ruby is simple. Viewing other profiles and reading what interests other members - finding out what makes them tick - and being able to connect with them is immediate and interactive. Of course, we will be building on our fabulous content. And, as members grow and plug into the opportunities offered by the site, including forums, profile building, business building avenues, event promotion, we will see an explosion of creativity, connections and diversity creating innumerable opportunities and leading Australia forward. It will be women to the power of thousands.

Women to the power of 100

In the Year of the metal Rabbit, 2011, I'm predicting big numbers are in. It's the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day - an achievement in anybody's books and, in my book, possibly worthy of a letter from the Queen. Certainly we decided, as part of our celebrations we wanted to congratulate the women of Australia. To do that, we've put together a beautiful book we've called, The Power of 100. (And it's available through Ruby - of course.)

In it we acknowledge 100 women - from our past to now - each of who we believe has helped shape this nation. It's not meant to be a definitive list but a memento to celebrate the importance of a mix of the very best female leaders our country can produce.

And just how did the book come about? Like any good story the links are many. In 2010, we were looking to name our inaugural annual scholarship for the development of women managers run with the Australian Graduate School of Management. We put 'Mary Reibey' (she is also our Ruby of the Month in March) forward because of Westpac's association with her. Mary rented the Bank of NSW's its first premises; was one of the first of 4 women to bank with it and held shares. She was an absolute business-trading powerhouse in Australia's early colonial days. An Emancipist, Mary spent much of her life in a business world of men and was ostracized by a colonial society of which she was later to become a pillar. She now graces our $20 note. Perhaps, not unsurprisingly, many people do not know much about Mary at all. It occurred to us that there are a great many other Australian women who have gone unsung and unacknowledged… and The Power of 100, which CEO Gail Kelly launched on International Women's Day, was born to begin rectifying that.

Stats and congrats

Last year, Gail announced that by 2014 40% of general manager level positions would be filled by women. At the time of the announcement, women filled 32% of the positions. In just 8 short months that figure has already risen to 36%.

There's more to celebrate. The Australian Institute of Company Directors is on track with its fantastic mentoring program for women with Captains of Industry to increase awareness from both sides of the potential of women at executive and board level. Its real time data shows the number of women appointed to ASX200 boards in 2010 increased compared to 2009: 49 women had been appointed to boards compared to 10 women during 2009.

Our continuing commitment to celebrating women leaders will span the next year. In over 700 Westpac branches around the country, communities have chosen local women leaders to celebrate along with Westpac staff members. And in an exciting continuation of the Power of 100 the Bio Channel is putting together a program narrated by Ita Buttrose profiling 20 of the women leaders featured. So look out for that.

During 2011, we are also continuing our Chief Executive Women and Westpac Leadership Forums, nationally. These events were a great success in 2010 and this year we are again tapping into top female and male leaders to discuss how businesses can best facilitate an increase in the number of women at senior levels and ensure early gains are maintained over time.

In Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CEW's Naseema Sparks will facilitate the events held during March. Panel members include, Elizabeth Bryan, Catherine Livingstone, Elizabeth Broderick, Gordon Cairns, Richard Lee among others.

The past 6 months

The work done by our designers and project team including Georgia MacFie and Beate Duesterwald getting Ruby up and ready has been amazing. I know we've all been on call to discuss her progress and monitor her development - feel the excitement and experience the pride. I encourage you to take a look around especially at our new forum area, because this is what Rubylutions are about: communication, collaboration, interaction and connection.




  • Anastasia Parrish

    Anastasia Parrish 9 years ago

    Hello Larke. Ruby a nice idea. I have made a test engagement. Some feedback: As you say its about 'communication, collaboration, interaction and connection'. To meet that goal, can I suggest you ask your large staff to each respond or comment to one item each day. Feedback makes things work better and makes people feel part of a community. Other wise Ruby may leave the impression Ruby works as a marketing tool for Westpac and a career-building tool for Westpac staff. Also I suggest you would rev things up if Ruby had a \"technical suggestions\" link. This could enhance your aims and create a better Ruby service.

  • Shell K

    Shell K 9 years ago

    I look forward to being part of Ruby - Thank You! :)