Identifying female talent and promoting diverse career pathways

Committing to identifying and developing high potential employees, including establishing various options for career pathways, is critical to attracting and retaining female employees.


Performance planning and review

The performance planning and review process provides a key opportunity for leaders to support female employees through identifying personal strengths, discussing career aspirations and options for training to enhance future employment opportunities. Ideally this should be conducted on an annual basis with a mid-term review.

Once performance objectives have been set, the provision of ongoing guidance, encouragement and timely feedback is an important way to instil confidence in employees, especially when undertaking new roles. This includes encouraging accountability to the delivery of set goals and rewarding contributions and achievements as they occur.

At the end of the performance period, an honest and supportive performance review provides a significant learning opportunity. Feedback should be objective, evidence-based and gathered from multiple sources. It should recognise achievements, as well as openly discussing goals that have not been met and options for how they can be achieved going forward.


If your organisation does not have a formal process in place:

  • contact similar organisations in the industry and ask if they are willing to share examples of their performance planning and review process and supporting templates
  • investigate performance planning and review templates on the internet
  • engage the services of a consultant to support with developing a process tailored to your business needs.


Questions for reflection:

  • Does your organisation have a formal performance planning process in place? Does this include development plans and discussing employee career aspirations?
  • How frequently is performance feedback provided to staff? (e.g. annually, monthly day-to-day?)
  • Do leaders and managers have the skills to provide effective feedback both in the formal performance planning process and day-to-day on the job?
  • Are employees encouraged to discuss their career goals with their line manager?



Succession planning

Succession planning is critical for the ongoing viability of an organisation and provides an opportunity to develop female employees who have the skills, qualities and desire to progress into more diverse job roles.

Succession planning is not a guarantee that a position will be awarded to an individual. Rather, it is a plan to develop employees so that they have the capacity to step into key roles or business areas when  existing workers depart. It involves identifying the roles that are crucial for business operations, and require specific skills, experience and/or seniority that may be in short supply at present, or in the future. During the succession planning process it is important to consider emerging skill needs that may arise in response to industry growth and changes in technology.

The identified skills and experience are then matched to the existing workforce and tailored development plans are established to address any knowledge and skill gaps. Development plans may include formal and informal training, mentoring or coaching. Succession planning can support with addressing knowledge and skill gaps in female employees over a period of time, so they are equipped to apply for job opportunities as they arise and be considered on equal grounds with their male counterparts.


For further information:


Questions for reflection:

  • How are female employees considered as a part of the succession planning process?
  • Are there any development plans in place for women to equip them for roles that have typically been performed by males? Does this include leadership / managerial positions?  If not, how could this be improved?



Job role redesign

When a job becomes vacant, the inclination is often to readvertise the same job description and backfill with a similar candidate.  A vacancy can also be an opportunity to consider how the job could be made more accessible to female candidates. 

In industries dominated by male employees, there are often perceptions in place regarding a woman’s capacity to perform the required tasks and responsibilities of certain roles. Reasons commonly cited include a women’s physical strength, the lack of female toilets and amenities in the workplace, and the requirement to work in close contact with males. In some cases, these perceptions may be reinforced by previous experiences during which a female not have been successful in fulfilling the role.

Job redesign involves the responsibilities and tasks of a job role being reviewed and possibly reallocated to other team members. While this should be considered on a case by case basis, in many instances it is likely that solutions can be found for the issues cited and a female could perform the majority of the role with the exception of some minor tasks.


Questions for reflection:

  • Are there any opportunities to redesign current job roles to make them more accessible to women?
  • What are the key challenges / perceptions cited with regards to women working in job roles typically undertaken by males?
  • If job roles have previously been redesigned, what worked well and what could be improved?



Promoting employment opportunities to women

A genuine lack of awareness regarding employment opportunities in the industry is cited as a key factor influencing the number of women applying for roles, including the uptake of pre-requisite training.

The Transport and Logistics Skills Council has developed a career information booklet outlining career pathways to support with raising awareness of the diverse employment opportunities available in the industry.


Examples of steps businesses can undertake to further promote the industry to women are:

  • use inclusive language and pictures in job advertisements, including stating that females are encouraged to apply
  • include in job advertisements and your website a summary of the benefits that are offered to employees, such as structured induction program, flexible work options, training, mentoring etc.
  • profile examples of women who may currently be employed (especially in job roles not traditionally performed by women) on your website, in newsletters etc.
  • include information at career expos on employment opportunities for women, including having current female employees represented at the stands to answer any questions 
  • encourage employment service providers and/or recruitment agencies to put forward  women for advertised roles
  • include female representatives on interview panels
  • liaise with local schools to promote work experience opportunities for female students
  • partner with TAFE and Universities to promote work placements for female students  undertaking relevant studies.  
  • offer apprenticeships to female candidates and/or pre-employment programs in non-traditional roles.
  • It is also important to review your organisation’s recruitment process, as well as measures used to assess performance and promotion, to ensure they are not unconsciously biased against women.


“Women are great operators and their attention to detail is very much valued. In fact, there are more

female operators in Mainfreight’s Asia-Pacific offices than male. It was also not common for women to be Customer Brokers, but now it is becoming more of an even split”

Jessica Rankin – Operations Manager, Mainfreight 



“I was a P-Plater when I first started so my first bit of training was to drive a manual car before starting on a small forklift. From the forklift I progressed to heavy forklift to straddle carrier. What I liked about working in the port was the mixture of activities, as well as lashing containers on ships, which is a great at keeping you fit”

Nola Larkin – HR & Risk Support Officer, Flinders Ports



For further information:



Questions for reflection:

·         How do you promote employment opportunities to women (current employees and potential new employees)?   How could this be improved?

·         Are there any opportunities to utilise current female employees working in non-traditional roles to support with promoting job opportunities?