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Aug 2010

Qantas

The Qantas Group operates one of the world’s leading airline businesses and is one of the most renowned brands in Australia. The group has built a worldwide reputation for excellence in safety, operational reliability, engineering and maintenance, and customer service after 90 years in operation.

Qantas logo 

Our business case for women

Qantas recognises the importance of long term investment in women and increasing the representation of women across the organisation in leadership and non traditional roles (such as pilots, engineers and apprentices).

How we support women and develop leaders

The Qantas Group has a number of talent and professional development programmes including the senior executive programme, the Harvard leadership programme and the emerging leaders programme. The group is committed to continuously increasing the representation of women in these programmes.

In addition, and more importantly, Qantas has invested in female-specific programmes designed to build leadership skills and to develop talented women within the business. These include:

  1. Women @ Qantas, a programme designed to attract, develop and retain senior and emerging female leaders. Participants are provided with an internal or external mentor in their first year, and become mentors themselves in the second year. Qantas provides a series of senior guest speakers who discuss a range of industry and company specific topics. 
  2. Women on boards (WOB), an external social enterprise aimed at increasing gender diversity on boards and connecting boards with aspiring female directors through professional development workshops (including developing a board CV) and posting board vacancies on their website. In 2008, the Qantas Group developed a partnership with WOB, which allows free membership for any female within the group, support to attend workshops and networking events.
  3. A number of networks operating across the business, including:

a) Making connections – a women’s networking forum designed to engage, develop and retain professional women in operational areas (such as engineering) 

b) Fast forward – following initiation by the human resources team in 2009, Jasmin Harvey, manager for risk and sustainability, has led the development of this professional development network designed to engage, develop and retain professional women in the corporate areas. The objectives of Fast forward are career development and progression (hence the name ‘fast forward’); to build internal and external networks; to broaden knowledge of the business; and to understand and address challenges presented to women, including commencing and returning from maternity leave.  

We are self managed, with a monthly rotating chair, and the format varies between guest presentations by senior leaders (both within Qantas and externally) having round table discussions on specific issues, or having members of the network present on a topic of their choice that is aligned to the objectives of the network. It also offers ‘a keep in touch’ programme for those whom are on maternity leave.

Further examples of initiatives can be found in Qantas’ annual report to the equal opportunity for women in the workplace agency (EOWA).

Business benefits / return on investment

The business case for supporting women is well established: rather than simply being the right thing to do, it benefits the business in being able to access the widest pool of talent and to engage, develop and retain talent. It is also improves organisational decision making and understanding of diverse customer perspectives (in a service business, a company’s demographics should mirror that of its customer base to ensure its products and services meet customer needs).

The Qantas Group regularly evaluates the effectiveness of its programmes and continuously identifies new opportunities to engage and develop women.

About the company

Qantas Airlines operates more than 4,700 flights each week to 72 destinations in Australia and around the world. The Jetstar brands operate around 1,900 flights each week to 50 destinations in Australia, New Zealand, Asia and the United States.

The Qantas Group employs around 35,000 people who undertake more than 250 unique roles, speak approximately 55 different languages, and represent 92 nationalities. Women comprise 42% of the total workforce, with 22% of women in senior roles across the business (figures taken from Qantas’ 2009 annual report).