A new lens through which to view leadership development for women

A recent editorial on Women’s Agenda focused on the skills and strategies it takes to move from middle management to executive management, and the hurdles that women might face in making that move. In particular, it looked at the “missing 33%” of skills needed to move ahead, that research has suggested that women lack. Jenny Morris, CEO of The Orijen Group, has responded.

Most leadership qualities are universal, and not gender specific. However, we have identified a number of “unconscious” qualities that impact the progress of women from middle management into senior executive roles – the point at which we lose up to 35% of the female workforce.

Up until middle management, women will be promoted for doing a good job, as will men. From middle management on, we suggest that the game changes from ‘doing good’ to ‘being seen to be good”.

Women continue to play the ‘good girl’ game, while their male counterparts play a ‘being seen’ game – promoting themselves,  increasing their profile, lobbying, asking for what they want, playing the politics. Women find these behaviours (even referring to them as a game) inherently uncomfortable, or even grubby, and refuse either consciously or unconsciously to play this game.

Yet if women aren’t on the playing field, they will continue to see their often less capable male counterparts pass them by. Central to our belief is that unpalatable as it may be, the current reality is that women need to both understand that there is a different game being played, and to play that game.

However, they don’t have to play the same way as the men. Women need to work together to find an authentic leadership style that keeps them in the game, but doesn’t go against their personal integrity. That’s what women-to women mentoring can do and where women’s leadership development programs should focus.

APS Women in ICT Embracing Coaching Circles

Orijen is proud to announce that we have commenced the third Women in IT Executive Mentoring (WITEM) Coaching Circles program in the Australian Public Service earlier this month, in partnership with Dell. We extend a warm welcome to the 116 women who have been selected to join this program.

With a significant growth in the number of nominations (126 this year compared with 88 last year, and 64 in the inaugural year), it has never been more obvious that this program meets not only the needs of women working in male dominated workplaces, but also their organisations as they strive to build a pipeline of talented women in ICT in Government.

With thirty government departments participating, the women have the unique opportunity to build develop their leadership skills, to broaden their networks, and to learn from each other. Each participant has in common a high degree of maturity and professional experience and a desire to navigate and advance their careers in the APS.

The circles are facilitated by psychologists Jenny Morris and Glenda May both of whom have a deep understanding of leadership development and diversity challenges. Each coaching circle (12 women) meets ten times over the 12 month period, thereby ensuring real-time, sustainable learning and providing time for reflection and practice.

The first meeting of each circle was extraordinarily successful. The participants were extremely appreciative of the opportunity, especially when they realised that it’s “not just another leadership program” but one which offers real potential for personal and professional growth.

One participant reported after a single WITEM session: “It had puzzled me for a long time. I kept asking myself “what am I lacking of” or “what are they really looking for that I don’t have?” or “I know I am competent at what I am doing, but why…” etc. I think I know the answer now and looking forward to learning and applying the skills that would address those problems.”

The networking that WITEM offers is part of the appeal – immediately upon joining their group, participants add an additional eleven women to their professional networks. WITEM also offers the opportunity for further networking, with a whole-of-program networking session organised for the 116 program participants in September and intimate ‘fireside’ chats with CIO’s and members of the SES throughout the year. Past speakers at these ‘fireside’ chats include Angela Fox, the new Managing Director of Dell, and Deborah Harrigan as well.

We look forward to the next twelve months of running this WITEM program with the support of Dell, and helping participants grow in their current roles and prepare for the progression to the next level of their careers.

Once again to our participants, welcome to WITEM!

If you are interested in learning more about WITEM or Orijen’s coaching and mentoring programs, please contact us for more information.

I know that I am the master of my own career

bonnie-masonBonnie Mason is currently a Project Manager in the ICT Division at the Australian Government Department of Industry. She talks about her experience as recent graduate of Orijen’s Women in IT Executive Mentoring (WITEM) program, and the path she has taken in her career.

Seven years ago, I moved into the public service from the private sector to take a six month contract role through an opportunity offered by a former colleague. I took a risk in doing so, relinquishing a full-time guaranteed job for a short position with no guarantees, but as this would get my foot in the door, I jumped at the chance.

While I got the opportunity because of “who I knew”, that only takes you so far. To remain in the role and become a permanent public service worker I had to prove myself capable. I’ve done so, and have managed to advance in the public service.

Recently in my personal life, I was given the opportunity to relocate from Canberra to Brisbane. Moving to Brisbane was going to be a great opportunity for my family. As I really enjoy the work that I do, whom I work with and for, I wanted to ensure that I could continue my job. I needed to get my manager to approve my working out of our Brisbane office.

Using existing skills, and the negotiation skills that I learned during the WITEM course, I successfully negotiated moving my job to Brisbane, making it a ‘win/win’ situation for everyone.

I would absolutely recommend the WITEM program to other professional women. I have utilised a fair amount of the course content already (especially negotiation skills) and will continue to do so in the future.

What I found to be extremely rewarding was the opportunity to be able share ideas and issues with other women in similar situations. These women have given me a different perspective on how to approach things and in some cases, solutions that I had not previously conceived. The support given to me by these women is something I will treasure.

Being a participant in Orijen’s WITEM program has given me more confidence in who I am and what I want for my career. I know that I am the master of my own career.

Thank you Orijen for creating this development opportunity for women. The direction and encouragement you have given me and countless other women since its inception has been priceless.

Irish Elections Highlights Success of Women for Election Ireland

Orijen sends our congratulations to our associates at Women for Election Ireland, who have just been through their first Local, European Elections and National By-Elections. The success of their training and mentoring programs is evident in the results of these elections.

For Local Government elections:

  1. Out of a total of 949 Local Government seats, 194 women were elected which represents a 33% increase since the 2009 elections.
  2. Female representation in Local Government is now 21%, up from 16% in 2009.
  3. 50% of those women elected, have participated in training and mentoring programs run by Women for Election Ireland.

For the European Parliament elections:

  1. For the first time ever, there are more Irish women than Irish men represented in the European Parliament. 6 of the 11 Irish Members are women.
  2. Two of the three newly elected female MPs have participated in training and mentoring programs run by Women for Election Ireland.

For the National elections:

  1. Ireland now have 27 female representatives out of a total of 166 representatives. This is 16% representation, the highest ever in Irish history.

Since its launch in 2012, 600 women from Ireland and other European Union states have participated in a Women for Election training program. The results of this training are self-evident – the face of Irish politics is changing substantially and its thanks to the initiatives and strategies of Women for Election.

Women for Election is involved at all stages of the political process – from pre-election training to post-election networking. After the Irish elections in May, Women for Election Ireland ran their “Post Election Councillor Training”, bringing together over fifty newly elected female councillors for a day long program of building knowledge, developing negotiation skills and strategies, and creating networks of key policy makers and senior politicians and supporters.

Congratulations again, Women for Election Ireland, on the success of your training programs for women in politics!

Planning for Women for Election Australia is now underway, spearheaded by the efforts of Jenny Morris, CEO of Orijen Pty Ltd.

To express your interest in becoming involved with Women for Election, please fill in the form below:

Fill out my online form.

WITEM Made Me Feel Valued

One of Orijen’s industry-based mentoring programs is the award-winning Women in IT Executive Mentoring (WITEM), which builds cross-organisational mentoring partnerships between CEOs, CIOs and women working in the IT industry who have been identified as capable of taking the next step into executive ranks.

It’s an interactive and collegiate program that aims to enhance career management, increase skills, develop resilience and build strong, supportive networks for women working in IT.

One recent program graduate says:

Thank you Jenny.

I just wanted to say to you and Glenda how precious my WITEM time has been.

In a crazy world of change and pain (which continues) attending the coaching circles has been a balm to my hurting soul.

A place of calm and rest. A place I felt welcome and valued (something I don’t get from work at the moment). To meet with such talented generous warm and caring women (that includes you both as well the other women in the group) and to be able to share the journey has been a Godsend.

I have learned so much which has enabled me to grow in understanding of myself and to be able to act more effectively and authentically. I think I am starting to make choices and to try and make things happen that I want rather than just go with the flow and let things happen.

You have made a difference in my life and the ripples of this time with you will travel out to who knows where.

Thank you both.

To see how you could benefit from participating in an Orijen mentoring program, please contact us to find out more.

Men of a Certain Age

Rachel Nolan, former member of the Queensland Parliament from 2001 to 2012 has written a fantastic article in the May issue of The Monthly about the lack of diversity in the Abbott government and the consistent appointment of older, white, men to positions of influence.


She notes that the Prime Minister is oblivious to this trend towards a lack of diversity in his government: “The PM has argued loudly and repeatedly that all the appointments have been merit-based – and that their limited gene pool has been coincidence, happenstance or of secondary importance anyway.”

This is of course, despite evidence to the contrary: “In 2014, the proportion of women in Australian parliaments is actually trending down. Following this year’s state elections, 21% of Coalition MPs across state and federal parliaments are women, while Labor has more than twice that level of female representation at 43%. The fall in overall numbers of women in Australian parliaments is entirely the result of the conservative ascendancy.”

However, she notes that it’s not as simple as appointing capable women to positions of power. Even after they occupy these positions, they face pressures and expectations from the public that their male peers aren’t subject to. As a former politician herself, she knows this degree of scrutiny first hand.

“Female political candidates are told to dress differently, to wear less jewellery and colour and more sober suits; they’re told to lower their voices in fear of the great turn-off, that they’ll come across on the radio sounding like a girl. They’re constantly told to toughen up, to not act “emotionally”.”

In short, they are told to be less stereotypically female, and to become more masculine in their manner – because to be female, is to be seen as a liability.

This needs to change.

And that is why Women for Election Australia has been formed. Dedicated to developing the future political potential of women in Australia, Women for Election Australia can make a difference through developing and equipping future leaders of Australia… many of whom we hope will be women.

After all, as Rachel Nolan says in her article, “While it is one thing for the women of Australia to be offended by their exclusion, it is quite another for all of us to see our future endangered by a narrow band of conservative older men set on returning us to a past that can no longer exist.”

Now is the time to take action. Express your interest in Women for Election Australia now.

Fill out my online form.

Orijen’s “Pocket-sized gem” recommended for Australian managers

52 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling, written by Orijen CEO Jenny Morris and psychologist Glenda May, has been reviewed and recommended by Emma Williams in the March 2014 issue of Management Today, the monthly magazine of the Australian Institute of Management.


Published by the most respected management organisation in Australia, Management Today is Australia’s only management magazine that uniquely targets Australia’s key decision-makers, CEOs, managers and those aspiring to management and leadership.

The review says:

“In this pocket sized gem, you’ll find the 52 rules every career woman should live her life by.”

“The tips and tools provided in this book will guide you as you break through the barrier and force you to assess your own unconscious sabotaging of your career, which may be causing the ‘sticky floor’”.

“It is short, simple and to the point – perfect to flick through on days when you need a reminder to trust in your own ability”.

Haven’t got a copy of 52 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling yet?

We’re selling it through the Orijen shop now – click through to purchase your copy

Scholarship Recipients Announced For EWB Future Female Leaders Program

(pictured left to right: Jenny Morris, CEO of Orijen, Leanne Townsend, CEO of NASCA, Siena Balakrishnan, CEO of Milk Crate Theatre, Rosemary Bishop, CEO of Mamre Plains Ltd and Larke Reimer, Director of Women’s Markets for Westpac)

The Orijen team is proud to announce the recipients of the Mary Reiby Mentoring Scholarships for participation in the Executive Women’s Business (EWB) Future Female Leaders program. These scholarships are co-funded by Westpac (two scholarships) and Orijen (one scholarship).

These scholarships have been awarded to three outstanding candidates from three diverse industries:

  • Leanne Townsend, CEO of the National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy (NASCA)
  • Siena Balakrishnan, CEO/General Manager of Milk Crate Theatre
  • Rosemary Bishop, CEO of Mamre Plains Ltd.

Orijen extends their thanks to Larke Reimer, Director of Women’s Markets for Westpac and the Westpac Foundation, for her support of promising future female executive leaders through scholarship funding and hosting of the 2014 EWB Future Female Leaders Program.

Under the guidance of Elizabeth Crouch, Deputy Chancellor of Macquarie University and Chairperson on many public and private Boards, the scholarship recipients will join seven other executive women from the private and public sector in the 2014 EWB Future Female Leaders Program, launching at the end of March.

Applications are now closed for the March 2014 intake, however if you would like to join a waiting list for the next program, please fill in the Expression of Interest form below.

Fill out my online form.

Orijen paper at exclusive international conference

icapCo-authored by Jenny Morris and Glenda May, the “52 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling” guide to becoming a strong female leader has been a resounding success with women around Australia who are looking to take control and move up in their own careers.

The importance of the advice in this guide has now been recognised on an international stage. Our paper “Authentic Leadership: The leadership challenge for women in male dominated organisations. How to break through the glass ceiling” has been accepted into the 28th International Congress of Applied Psychology.

The acceptance of this paper is recognition of the leadership challenges that women in male dominated organisations face all around the world. Glenda May will be presenting this paper at the conference, to be held in Paris from 8-13 July 2014.

If you haven’t yet read “52 Ways to Break Through the Glass Ceiling”, it’s not too late to order it

International Struggle Against Sexism in Politics

As a spectator to the dramas of Australian politics and public perception of high-achieving women on both sides of the political system, it’s very easy to start to believe that sexism and the gender divide within politics is a problem unique to Australia.

A recent article in The Guardian however, proves that the gender divide is still negatively affecting the experiences of female politicians around the world. Some of these women’s experiences include:

  1. South Africa’s Lindiwe Mazibuko was once asked to “explain to this house what she has done to her hair”
  2. Italy’s Laura Boldrini receives hate mail, including photos of her face superimposed onto the body of a woman being raped
  3. The UK’s Stella Creasy and Louise Mensch both receiving rape threats and pornographic images
  4. Afghanistan’s Fawzia Koofi whose very role in public life as a politician is in danger because of the Taliban presence in the country
  5. Turkey’s Safak Pavey who’s fighting to oppose recent plans to curb female liberties around abortions, caesareans, the wearing of headscarfs, and more.

In Australia, the frequent comments about personal aspects of former Prime Minister Gillard, as well as the recent speculations about the suitability of Minister Plibersek as Party Leader given her role as a mother, as well as many other comments, combine to create a hostile environment for any woman currently in politics, or wanting to make their way into politics.

Orijen is currently working on developing a program in conjunction with Women For Election Ireland to help to break down some of these barriers.

To express your interest in either participating or contributing to the soon-to-be-launched Women for Election Australia, please fill in the form below.

Fill out my online form.