Today, Baker McKenzie is launching 5 Bold Ideas for Shifting the Dial on Women in Business By 2020. This is a new report created in collaboration with Women's Agenda based on a roundtable that took place in Baker McKenzie's Brisbane office, designed to aid organisations in considering new approaches for promoting gender diversity.

Just over three months since International Women’s Day, which called on us to “Be bold for change”, we’re still seeing the same story when it comes to the numbers on women in leadership and business.

In some areas, we’ve actually gone backwards in the first half of 2017. Just take a look at the number of female CEOs now leading ASX 200  organisations, which has now dropped to just seven following a number of resignations.

The fact is that women are more educated, ambitious and experienced than ever before. And yet measures designed to shift the balance on women in leadership in some of our largest organisations, are simply not working – or not working fast enough, or in a sustainable way.

What’s needed are bold, new ideas. New initiatives and cultural adjustments that will require courageous leadership to implement, but can also immediately inspire sustainable change.

Recently, Baker McKenzie partnered with Women's Agenda  to get a number of leaders around a table to workshop ideas that can help shift the dial on women in business – and shift it in the next couple of years, rather than the next century.

All our participants had some kind of connection to the legal industry – a sector where many of the challenges confronting women’s career progression are particularly acute.

We asked our participants to suggest and to help workshop ‘bold’ ideas: New initiatives, programs and ways of thinking that can help disrupt the status quo, but are still very much possible for willing organisations to implement.

As Baker McKenzie partner Anne-Marie Allgrove said,

You can tick the boxes on a number of things, but if we can’t change the culture, we’re not going to see much change.

We started our conversation by examining some of the career ‘turning points’ that had ultimately put those sitting around the table on track to where they are today. These moments – ranging from having kids, to working overseas, to meeting a sponsor, to being diagnosed with cancer, to experiencing blatant discrimination, to having a life partner step back from their own career to take care of things at home — helped underpin our discussion on the measures that can ultimately help accelerate women’s careers.

Those in the room agreed that there’s no silver bullet for shifting the numbers on women in leadership. What’s needed are a number of ‘shifts’ that can, in collaboration, promote significant and sustainable change.

Some such ‘shifts’ require significant budgets, others simply require effort, others a change in process and procedures.

Shifting the dial is not beyond our collective ability, but it does require leadership. It requires individuals to break with long established traditions, to take significant risks and to change what they can within their own sphere of influence.

Download the full report here.

Watch highlights video here.

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