"When Wesfarmers listed on the stock exchange in 1984, the leadership and composition of our businesses was predominately male. Times have changed and we are supporting our businesses as they adapt and innovate. In the same way that we try to leveraging the ethnic, cultural, and generational diversity of our customers and talent, there remains an opportunity to better engage the diversity of strengths and needs of our male and female talent, and thus better serve the diversity of preferences of our male and female customers too. This is a commercial opportunity, and thus an opportunity to better deliver for our shareholders.
But it’s also an opportunity to strengthen the economy of Western Australia. Wesfarmers prides itself in the role we play in boosting the GDP and productivity of Western Australia, and we are not doing our state justice unless we harness the power of women in the workplace in the same way that we do men.
Strong leaders embrace change in order to be able to innovate and progress their businesses and improved gender balance is one of the best enablers of innovation I know. To ensure we attract, develop, and retain the best talent and provide products and services that deliver on the most important wants and needs of our male and female customers, our leaders must embrace changes in how we work and how we lead. I expect that of myself and I expect that of all our leaders at Wesfarmers.
To draw on the passion and commitment of our teams, leaders must engage in open and honest conversations about gender. Too often a reluctance to voice a different opinion or a fear of saying the wrong thing can stifle conversation amongst our teams and leave us in the dark about what colleagues are thinking. We must push past the discomfort of the topic of gender and share our thoughts openly. I have joined CEOs for Gender Equity so that I can hear the thoughts of other CEOs and encourage leaders across Wesfarmers to talk openly and honestly with their peers too.
In our endeavour to improve gender balance in our businesses, Wesfarmers is providing various means of support to our divisions. Independent external gender audits have assisted our divisions in identifying opportunities to improve gender balance; our custom built gender toolkit has identified further opportunities to harness the strengths of our male and female talent across our businesses, cater to their needs, and better address the diversity of preferences of our customers; and the launch of a Wesfarmers Cross-divisional Gender Balance Working Group has enabled our divisions to share practices across the Group as well as hear from external experts.
The pursuit of gender balance at Wesfarmers is a genuinely exciting opportunity to deliver for our shareholders, boost the economy of Western Australia, and become an employer and business of choice for our talent and customers. As a CGE member, I look forward to a future of gender equity."