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MEDIA RELEASE: Work-life balance not priority for advancement of women – 
new sphinxx survey reveals

MEDIA RELEASE: Work-life balance not priority for advancement of women – 
new sphinxx survey reveals: sphinxx (, the network for senior women in business recently polled 264 women in mid to senior positions who attended the sphinxx Ascend events for women in leadership in order to determine the development needs and experiences of women in senior positions.   Of the top ten skills and obstacles women felt they needed to address to improve their prospects for career advancement, work-life balance didn’t rate a mention.

Of the attendees/respondents 63 per cent were in middle to top management, and 12 per cent were CEO/MD level.  

Jen Dalitz, founder and SheEO  of sphinxx, the network for senior women in business said: “In this survey we were trying to understand what women see as the major blockages to progressing up the corporate ladder – be it skilling, support structures or stamping out practices that work against women in the workplace.  By seeking to understand the barriers, we can then work with women to help them overcome them.”

The survey revealed a number of key findings regarding the attitude of women in middle to senior level roles towards the challenges they face in progressing in their careers and attaining promotions in male-dominated leadership ranks.

“It is telling that work-life balance – often cited as the major barrier to women advancing in their careers particularly for those with parenting and caring responsibilities – is conspicuously absent from the ten most common obstacles women say they’d like to address”, said Dalitz.

Instead, women rated understanding the differences between men & women in leadership, including behavioural and style variances, as the greatest obstacle to progression, followed by how to communicate effectively and be heard in meetings and conflict management skills.  The top ten obstacles, from highest to lowest, reported by the survey were:

  1. Understanding the differences between men & women in leadership, including behavioural and style variances (34%)
  2. Communication skills – how to communicate effectively and be heard in meetings (34%)
  3. Conflict management skills (33%)
  4. Gaining access to mentors/coaches/other support structures for guidance (33%)
  5. Creativity and new thinking in the workplace (32%)
  6. Negotiation and influencing skills (31%)
  7. Relationship management skills – how to build relationships and harvest them for career success (28%)
  8. Personal style and branding – creating a perception of leadership through one’s presentation (28%)
  9. Critical thinking and problem solving (27%)
  10. Practical skills for dealing with staffing issues & employee engagement (24%)

Work life balance ranked outside of the top ten, with 22% of respondents noting it as an issue they’d like assistance in addressing.  


As organisations transition towards greater corporate responsibility for gender diversity in Australian companies, including the introduction of the ASX gender diversity reporting guidelines, Dalitz says it’s more important than ever for employers to avoid assumptions about what women want in relation to career development opportunities.  “I would really encourage employers to start with a blank sheet and really spend time with the women in their organisations understanding the issues they perceive are holding them back from career advancement; and then to develop programs that address these issues specifically.  We’ve chosen to follow a demand driven model which involves surveying business women and only then do we construct our professional development programs – ensuring the content is spot on for what women need.”

It’s a model that is paying off in spades, with 96% of participants saying they would recommend the sphinxx Ascend development days to other senior women in business – a contributor to sphinxx being selected as a finalist in the Telstra Business Awards this year.  “We always gather feedback after every event and this feedback is key to creating our next event and ensuring we are offering exactly what senior managers need to turbo-charge their careers”, said Dalitz.

For those organisations currently developing a gender diversity program in response to the new ASX guidelines, Dalitz has this advice: “Assume nothing – instead begin by asking what your women want to get ahead in their careers.  And if you’re thinking that work-life balance and family-friendly poliicies are the main issue for women in advancing to leadership roles, you could be wrong.”
The next round of sphinxx Ascend events for women in leadership, themed ‘Re-Energise You – Building your resilience and team for success’ will take place on the following dates: Adelaide 11 Aug ⋅ Sydney 13 Aug ⋅ Brisbane 17 Aug ⋅ Melbourne 20 Aug.  

For more info go to the Ascend page at  



For Further Media Information, interviews with or comment from Jen Dalitz, please contact Jen on 0414 647 382 or email or telephone the sphinxx office on 1300 969 070.  

Media passes to Ascend are available by contacting the sphinxx office at

Jen Dalitz is obsessed with getting more women into leadership roles, in our workplaces and communities.  That’s why she started sphinxx and why she writes about, speaks about, mentors and consults on topics related to working women.  Jen’s expertise in this space has been recognised with an Edna Ryan Workplace Award for improving the working conditions of Australian women, and selection as a finalist in the 2010 NSW Telstra Business Awards.

An avid commentator, Jen regularly features in media publications such as Business Review Weekly, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Courier Mail, Adelaide Now, In The Black, The National Accountant, Marie Claire, Madison and Working Women, to name a few.

Prior to founding sphinxx, Jen’s career in finance and consulting spanned 16 years, international borders and a host of Fortune 500 companies. As an executive and business consultant she experienced first hand the challenges women face as they climb the corporate ladder; and the impact on the bottom line when female talent is under-utilised.  
Away from sphinxx, Jen is the mother of a small child and runs a farm in the country.   More info at

sphinxx is a social enterprise committed to advancing women as leaders.  Our vision is to see women equally represented in leadership roles, in our workplaces and communities. We provide resources and professional development to support women on their leadership journey; and advice and education to ensure employers find and keep the best women on their teams.  

There are many organizations that provide networking for women; we’re not much like them.  Our programs bring women together in a meaningful way to specifically address the personal and professional skills gaps that they say are holding them back.  

And when it comes to advising employers, we’re not like most consulting firms either.  We conduct our own research and work collaboratively with employers, women and leading experts across different industries, sectors and geographies to build robust and practical strategies that deliver lasting change.

sphinxx was a finalist in the 2010 NSW Telstra Business Awards in the micro business category – find out more at



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