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Corporate Express CEO leads by example in the advancement of women

I was delighted to learn that Paul Hitchcock, CEO of Corporate Express Australia Ltd was announced the 2010 winner of the EOWA Award for Leading CEO for the Advancement of Women.  I have watched Paul elevate the status of women at Corporate Express ever since I was invited to present to an internal gathering for International Women’s Day at their head office last year.  This is truly a best practice example of how quickly change can be accomplished, when it is driven from the top.

When Paul Hitchcock became CEO of Corporate Express he recognised that something needed to be done to turn around the blokey culture and “it needed to start with me”. With 50% of the workforce being female, no women in senior leadership and few women in management roles, he has turned what was perceived as a “women’s issue” into a business issue by calling for targets and keeping a monthly scorecard on gender diversity.

He also decided to “own” gender diversity because he didn’t want to run the risk of it becoming ‘no more than a policy’ and rallied the male leaders within Corporate Express to support it. In 2009 he changed the structure of the leadership group to ensure it included all leaders, not just those with a profit and loss role and increased the number of women in leadership from 9% to 35%.

Now in its tenth year, the EOWA Business Achievement Awards recognise those organisations and individuals that are leading the advancement of women. Winners across the other award categories included:

  • Diversity Leader for the Advancement of Women: Kate McCormack, Mercy Health
  • Leading Organisation for the Advancement of Women (Under 800 employees): St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School
  • Leading Organisation for the Advancement of Women (Over 800 employees): Griffith University
  • Outstanding EEO Practice for the Advancement of Women in a Non-Traditional Area or Role: Synnex Australia Pty Ltd
  • The Minister’s Award for Outstanding EEO Initiative/Result for the Advancement of Women: Shine Lawyers.

A full list of 2010 EOWA Business Achievement Award finalists and winners can be viewed here.

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