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Empowering women for success

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In the corporate sector women currently hold a mere 5.2% of CEO positions in S&P 500 companies# and the number of women on boards of ASX 200 companies last year was just 25.4%*.

Despite these underwhelming statistics there are many private, public and government organisations that run initiatives to help empower women for professional and personal success. This includes a raft of Australian universities that recently were acknowledged for championing gender equality. All of these universities received an Employer of Choice for Gender Equality acknowledgement including –ARC@UNSW Limited, Australian Catholic University, Curtin University, Deakin University, Edith Cowan University, Griffith University, La Trobe University, Monash University, QUT, RMIT University, Swinburne University, University of Canberra, University of Newcastle, University of Southern Queensland, University of Technology Sydney, University of Wollongong and University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University.

In the private sector, Campus Travel’s parent company, Flight Centre Travel Group, recently appointed Colette Garnsey to the board as a non-executive director. Campus Travel General Manager, Cathryn Cole welcomed the appointment and said, “It’s a positive step in the right direction as the company continues to strengthen its gender diversity and have more women represented at senior management and above”.

Colette Garnsey is not the only female leader at FCTG. The global company has many women in leadership positions including Melanie Waters-Ryan - FCTG’s Chief Operating Officer, Carole Cooper - FCTG Global People Works Leader, Melissa Elf – General Manager of FCM Travel Solutions Australia and Jess Anscombe – General Manager of Corporate Traveller Australia.

“Women bring different skill sets, new dimensions and perspectives to leadership roles and the entire workplace – so it’s important to address any potential career blocks to women advancing,” said Cathryn Cole, who is also part of the travel group’s tribe of highly successful female leaders.

Campus Travel as part of FCTG, has unique programs to help women develop professionally and personally. The company is driving change to help transform the 75% female workplace, with its WomenWise initiative. WomenWise is designed to showcase opportunity, provide role models and offer structured support to create gender balance in all leadership teams. As part of WomenWise, the Kit Kat Club was also introduced to advance, connect and drive change for women within FCTG.

Campus Travel is one of the only academic travel companies in Australia that actively supports women in business and in the academic space. Each year, Campus Travel invites women from across the corporate, travel and academic sectors to 'Women in Business' events to support the professional development of its own staff and clients. Added to this are the brand's initiatives around International Women's Day, which clients are invited to and women-only travel grants.   

Last year Campus Travel and Virgin Australia, took up the cause for gender equality with the annual Travel Grant Series focusing exclusively on women in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. The initiative helped to highlight the work being carried out by women in this male-dominated field. Campus Travel received over 1000 applications from PhD students, higher education teachers and researchers working across the STEM fields.


#Based on the January 2017 S&P 500 list. Catalyst. Women CEOs of the S&P 500. New York: Catalyst, February 2, 2018.

*Australian Institute of Company Directors gender diversity data.


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