Senior Partnerships Adviser
For Brian Hartzer, CEO of Australian Financial Services at Westpac, the lack of women in leadership positions in Australia came as a shock.
In an interview conducted as part of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia’s (Finsia) film series ‘Lightbulb Moments’, Mr Hartzer says: “I’ve always competed against women. I went to co-educational schools. In my first job in management consulting I think half of the class that was there were women and so for me it’s always been quite a natural thing. I would say to the extent that there was lightbulb it was when I came to Australia and found that the same level of women in senior leadership positions wasn’t there.”
Mr Hartzer is one of three senior executives who spoke to Finsia about their ‘light bulb’ moment for gender equality. Ian Narev, CEO Commonwealth Bank and Gordon Cairns, Chair of Origin Energy, also spoke candidly about what gender equality meant to them personally, as well as to their business.
Mr Narev said: “In finance, like in any industry, the key is get the best people and make them as successful as they possibly can be. And statistically half of them are going to be women. So the answer is not only that it can be done, it has to be done. And I don’t accept the answer that a successful career for any portion of the population is not possible.”
For Gordon Cairns, the business imperative became clear when he was Chief Executive of Lion Nathan: “And all of a sudden it struck me, that in that war for talent we were only recruiting from 50% of the gene pool. So we were actually limiting our ability to compete. That for me was the turning point.”
Filmed by Walkley award-winning journalist David Hardeker, the three short films can be viewed on Finsia’s website. Finsia plans build upon the initial film series in the coming months.