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Department of Foreign Affarirs and Trade

Programs, policy and strategy

Executive support:

"I decided to focus on barriers to women's progression to ensure DFAT was able to maximise its talent by ensuring that all staff enjoyed equal opportunity. Unequal representation of women at our senior levels suggested that, despite equal recruitment since the mid-1980s, there were factors inhibiting many of our female colleagues achieving senior roles.  DFAT's Women in Leadership strategy aims to build a more contemporary, flexible workplace reflecting the needs of modern Australia. Our measure of success will be an inclusive workplace that ensures all staff can reach their full potential, ensuring that DFAT will also perform at its best. It is about both equity and productivity.
Peter Varghese AO, Secretary

Women in Leadership Strategy:


Initiatives and networks

DFAT's Women in Leadership strategy outlines a range of initiatives and actions to help achieve the goal of a workplace where women and men can thrive equally. These include:

  • The appointment of four SES advocates  to champion gender equality internally.
  • Seeking feedback on managers' practice of inclusive leadership through upwards appraisals in the performance management process.
  • Reporting sex-disaggregated departmental statistics systematically to staff, including for recruitment rounds and posting processes.
  • Training to mitigate unconscious knowledge and bias for all managers, key human resource staff and selection panels from mid-2016.
  • An 'if not, why not' trial of flexible working arrangements, involving over 900 Canberra-based staff and a working group to evaluate the outcomes.
  • A review of policies around maternity, adoption and parental leave to make the experience as positive as possible, including for staff at post.
  • Publicising various options, including IT access and 'policy playdates', for staff on extended leave who wish to stay in touch with the department.
  • Establishing a new DFAT Women's Network and levering other DFAT collegial networks, such as the DFAT Families Network, EL2 Network, Disability Network, LGBTI Network and Indigenous Employees Network.
Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018