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Creating An Inclusive Culture…


When we consider recent statistical revelations about the status of women and work, and in particular, women’s participation in management, it is easy to become despondent.  In spite of progress made with regard to women’s rights across many areas of personal and political struggle, women continue to be underrepresented in management, particularly the upper echelons in some industries and occupations, while being over-represented in others.

A study of the top 200 Australian Stock Exchange companies revealed that as at 30 June 2014, just 15.4% of board directors were female, while 52 companies do not have a woman on their board at all, according to the Australian Workplace Gender Equality Agency. Despite this, 87.8% of women aged 20-24 have attained year 12 qualifications or above in 2013, in comparison to 84.1% of men in the same age bracket.

At home and abroad, the issues are the same.  Regardless of their greatly improved levels of education, technical competence and their wealth of experience, women continue to encounter “the glass ceiling”, an invisible barrier that limits their access to more senior positions within organisations.  Furthermore, as highlighted by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce at a Women’s Leadership Conference in 2011, many women are hitting the “maternal wall” before reaching the glass ceiling.  Their ambition is tempered by competing priorities and moulded to some extent by the choice for greater life balance.

The issues that emerge on closer examination of these trends are complex and many-faceted.  While it is essential to understand the broader structural and ideological foundations that contribute to a power differential within our institutions and organisations, it is also necessary to examine the day to day practice that creates and recreates cultures, maintaining the status quo or continuing to push the […]

Women as Leaders: The final public workshop for the year


It appears that ‘feminism’ is having resurgence in the media as of late.  You can’t log into Facebook or flip through a magazine without reading an article or comment debating the merits and relevance of feminism. Key female opinion leaders such as Hilary Clinton and Ita Buttrose are repeatedly being asked to weigh in on these debates, while current pop ‘queen’, Beyonce has even recently submitted an article on gender equality to the Shriver Report.

Like many of our famous female counterparts, VM Learning has always been proud supporters of gender equality.  Since its creation, VM have aimed to foster positive attitudes for women in the workplace and build more inclusive organisational cultures. This has been maintained through our successful ‘Women as Leaders’ program, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

Despite the program being 20 years old, it is still as relevant and popular as ever, which is reinforced by current statistics. Reports as recent as this year indicate that despite women making up 49% of the U.S labour force and 59% of the college-educated, entry level workforce they only make up 14.6% of executive officers, 8.1% of top earners and 4.6% of fortune 500 CEOs. Furthermore in the U.S, the average working woman continues to be paid 77% for every dollar the average man earns.

Similar statistics are reflected here in Australia, with only 15.4% of female directors on ASX200 Boards, while 52 ASX200 companies do not have a woman on their board at all.

This year the ‘Women as Leaders’ program has strived to address these statistics by developing strategies with the participants on how to deal with barriers against women in management and how to exploit and […]

Why the focus on facilitation?







Effective facilitation skills have become a critical leadership component for team-leaders, managers and trainers.  These skills are often referred to as “process” skills and play an important role in enabling groups to work together to achieve desired outcomes.  In today’s business world change is constant and the challenges faced are increasing in complexity.  The pressure to ‘do more with less’ is often present as budgets shrink and resource availability tightens.  As organisations continue to investigate ways to improve current business practices it is becoming clear that investing in people and process skills can unleash powerful resources and results.  Organisations are learning that team members can dramatically contribute to overall organisational success when they are effectively engaged, and true collaboration and innovation are encouraged.

Facilitation is key to the process of creating engagement and accountability for shared team and organisational results.  Facilitated team input ensures people are more motivated to support the decisions made because of their personal investment in the process.  This investment leads to a natural desire to think and act for the overall benefit of the team, and this in turn leads to the understanding that responsibility for implementing decisions lies with everyone.  Negative attitudes, low morale, low involvement, and withholding of information are less likely because everyone is involved in a joint process.

Furthermore, input from a diverse number of people working together usually results in better outcomes than individual efforts through increased innovation and problem-solving skills.  Of course, this is dependent on the facilitation of an environment that meets people’s various individual and social needs through effective facilitation of group dynamics.

What is a Facilitator?

A facilitator is generally responsible for guiding a process that assists a group of people to identify common […]