The Australian local government sector has named 2010 as the Year of Women in Local Government in a move to break the glass ceiling women still face in its workforce.
The decision builds on the agendas discussed at a national forum convened by the Local Government Managers Australia (LGMA).
LGMA national president Ray Pincombe told delegates at the forum that the Year would function as a powerful tool to raise awareness and educate the sector on the value and capability of women as senior managers.
“The topic of women in local government and in particular women in management positions has been around for a long time,” Mr Pincombe said.
“All levels of government are acutely aware of the barriers facing women in management positions, yet nationally only a handful of councils are addressing the issue.”
He pointed out currently women in senior management positions account for only 20 per cent of the local government workforce, with only five per cent of chief executive and general manager roles taken up by women.
“Unless we as a sector embrace gender diversity and adopt more transparent and flexible work practices in attracting and retaining our female employees, then the local government sector will not have the depth of talent to survive,” he said.
The year-long program will accompany complementary activities based on key themes including removing structural barriers to women’s career advancement, improving the image of local government to attract female employees and affirming women’s right to be ‘at the table’.
The program will also comprise initiatives such as reverse mentoring, professional development programs as well as women- and men- only forums and networks.
A working party consisting of 10 representatives from the local, state and federal government sectors and relevant groups has been established to develop and refine the program.
“This is not about women in management, as business leaders or as representatives on boards as a cause,” Mr Pincombe said. “It is about ensuring that business diversity accurately reflects community interests and more importantly, that women are seen as a real solution to the skills shortage problems we face today”
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