The business case for diversity

Alexandra Holcomb, Westpac Banking Corporation
Alexandra Holcomb

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At the Australasian Finance & Banking Conference, Westpac's Chief Risk Officer, Alexandra Holcomb, discussed the need for diversity in Australian business, with a particular focus on women in leadership positions. The progression of women in the financial sector from middle management to senior management has been stiflingly slow, and hindered by the belief that the issue will naturally resolve itself over time. Stressing that the development of a diverse and vibrant workforce is everyone's responsibility, Ms Holcomb pointed to the 'endless possibility and opportunity' in both an economic and a social sense, of hosting a range of diverse perspectives in business.  Westpac is currently working towards its target of 50% of women in leadership positions. Ms Holcomb attributed some of the success of its approach to date, to the treatment of diversity as a business-critical issue: one that should be consistently planned, managed and evaluated. The importance of having an ambitious vision for the future, adopting a tangible strategy, setting targets to measure success, and receiving feedback was also highlighted.