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Fertile Ground Needed to Grow Female Business Leaders

Papua New Guinea’s corporate sector is increasingly embracing gender equality and understanding the importance of women leaders to organisational success and profitability. Never before have so many talented PNG business women been sent on so many leadership courses. However, the extent to which businesses are providing the right environment for their talented and ‘trained up’ female staff to thrive and thus make significant contributions to the businesses employing them varies greatly.

“PNG has some exceptional training programs to develop the business leadership and management skills of its high potential female staff” says Evonne Kennedy, Executive Director of the PNG Business Coalition for Women (‘The Coalition’). “However, what we often don’t have in the businesses that send their female employees on these training programs are environments that are conducive to female leadership development and excellence.”

The Coalition has multiple resources – including policies and a range of trainings – to enable businesses to have the right culture, structure, policies and practices to support their female staff at all levels including their leaders. Coalition Chair and CEO of Origin Energy, Lesieli Taviri, describes these resources as “essential tools that help businesses create the ‘fertile ground’ not just necessary for women to flourish in leadership positions but for organisations to reap the numerous business benefits of a gender diverse workforce.”

To date 64 different PNG businesses have utilised the Coalition’s resources. Many of these, including Steamships, BSP, Digicel, Oil Search and TE PNG have utilised multiple services. The high level of repeat purchase behaviour among Coalition client businesses attests to the value of its resources.

PNG FM is another business that has utilised several Coalition services. The first Coalition resource utilised by PNG FM was an Anti-Sexual Harassment staff education workshop in 2018. Soon afterwards in early 2019, PNG FM formally implemented an Anti-Sexual Harassment policy. The policy helped cement staff understanding of what behaviour was expected of them. Significantly, it also ensured that staff fully comprehended what type of behaviour was considered inappropriate and would not be tolerated at PNG FM. The Coalition worked with management to develop reporting processes and foster a safe and respectful workplace culture to ensure that irrespective of gender, opportunities were provided equally without fear or favour.

Rosemarie Botong- Incoming GM PNGFM

2019 also saw PNG FM staff undertake the Coalition’s three different leadership programs. Early in 2020, Sales Director, Rosemarie Botong, a graduate of the Coalition’s Senior Executive Program will soon take over PNG FM’s most senior leadership role from retiring General Manager, Charles Taylor. Botong agrees that through utilising the Coalition’s resources, PNG FM has made considerable headway in developing safe, respectful and supportive ‘fertile ground’ to drive gender equality and grow its female leaders, including herself.

Assisting organisations to develop and implement policies that provide safe and respectful workplaces for women is part of the Coalition’s core business. Examples of these policies include those on Non-Discrimination, Gender Equality, Equal Pay, Flexible Work Arrangements, Sexual Harassment, and Family and Sexual Violence. Kennedy emphasises that “good policies provide the foundations upon which structural and cultural changes can be made.”

Training is also core business for the Coalition. Three of its most popular training programs centre on leadership, with each program being specifically tailored to the PNG business context:

Certificate IV in Leadership & Management: With 190 participants from 33 different companies since its first delivery in 2015, this program gives women the building blocks to become great team leaders, supervisors and managers. The course is formally accredited by the Australian education system.

Senior Executive Women Program: Launched in 2019, this program prepares senior businesswomen for career progression to senior executive positions including CFO and CEO. Twenty-two participants from 13 businesses have benefited from the program which is run in partnership with the Asia Development Bank (ADB).

PNG Directorship Course: Also launched in 2019, this internationally recognised program (open to both women and men) is run in partnership with the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Covering the topics Governance, Finance, Strategy and Risk, the course enhances an individual’s growth and potential as a company director.

“The PNG Business Coalition for Women is the corporate sector’s ‘go to’ resource for gender equality” says Kennedy. “Whether it’s helping businesses get their policies right, holding staff education workshops, or running our various leadership training programs, everything we do is geared towards helping PNG businesses achieve genuine gender equality and therefore helping them derive the business benefits associated with having done so.”

To learn more about how the Coalition can help your business grow the leadership potential of its female staff go to: www.pngbcfw.org. The Business Coalition for Women has numerous services available to help your business recruit, train, develop and promote PNG women. The Coalition is supported by the Australian Government in partnership with the Government of Papua New Guinea as part of the Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development program.

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