8 top tips from female public sector leaders

Jan 18
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8 top tips from female public sector leaders

Despite the incredible strides made towards gender equality in the last decade, women in senior level positions continue to be significantly underrepresented.

For women struggling to overcome professional, personal and structural challenges, we have put together 8 pieces of advice taken from Senior Leaders speaking at the 2017 Public Sector Women in Leadership conference.

Jane Halton AO, PSM, Board Member ANZ Bank & Former Secretary, Department of Finance & Department of Health

“Call out harassment – if it’s safe”

To stop bad behaviour being normalised, we need to call it out, everytime. But make sure your environment to do so is safe and you have the support you need.

“Toughen up and don’t take it personally – that’s what the guys do”

Learn from every remark and build on it to make the next positive move. It is possible that you may fail again, but it does not mean that people have a personal grudge against you.

“Remember the people at the back of the room”

Always take the time to reflect on who you didn’t acknowledge in a meeting, could you have got them to speak up? What more could you have done to give them a voice? The impact this can have on women in regards to backing themselves is huge, if you are in the position to offer someone a voice; do.

Liz Cosson AM, CSC, Deputy Secretary & Chief Operating Officer, Department of Veterans’ Affairs

“Own your role”

When Liz Cosson entered her first position where she wasn’t required to have her rank on her shoulder, she knew she needed to own her space. No one can fill your role like you can. Owning your role is the foundation to your success as a workplace leader.

“Look after yourself”

Being busy often means putting yourself lower on the priority list, but you need to find the time to put yourself first if you want to avoid burning out.

“Build capabilities at all levels”

Develop your team so that you can trust people to do the important, so that you can do the urgent. Your team are there for a reason.

Her Excellency Mrs Naela Chohan, High Commissioner for Pakistan

“Take change in your stride and don’t get overwhelmed”

Change is often daunting for people as it is associated with your routine being changed and ensuing instability. Remember, that when people describe being in a rut, they are frequently referring to situations which have stayed the same for a long time.

“Celebrate femininity”

After a day of strong, powerful females leaders, Her Excellency Mrs Naela Chohan took to the stage and gently reminded us that we can be soft, be feminine, be gentle and embrace it. Don’t feel pressured to conform to people’s ideals of what makes you a leader. Just do you.


Submitted by Maisie Holder

Maisie Holder

Maisie is a producer on Criterion’s Production Team. Originally from Essex, she has previously worked as a conference producer in the UK and has experience across the health, housing and university sectors. To the delight of her fellow colleagues, Maisie is a skilled cook and baker – she readily has her famous Millionaire’s Shortbread on hand for when that 3pm arvo slump hits.

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