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Building a more diverse and inclusive workforce for future female leaders

Department of Defence and Aurecon female leadership advancement program to build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

Ascend is an evidence-based, best-practice development program that aims to inspire, develop and support high-potential women to step into leadership roles.

14 July 2021 – Following the success of the inaugural program in 2020, engineering, design and advisory company Aurecon and the Australian Government Department of Defence are running their female leadership development program – Ascend – again this year.

The Ascend Program has been developed by Aurecon in partnership with psychology and behavioural science company Inkling to foster a more diverse workforce in leadership positions.

Designed to equip female talent working on Defence projects with the leadership skills to advance their careers, the Ascend Program will run between July and November, bringing together leaders from both organisations in virtual and face to face learning environments.

Ascend is an evidence-based, best-practice development program that aims to inspire, develop and support high-potential women to step into leadership roles. The program also develops participants’ courage and capability to set up and drive business outcomes, and to challenge the status-quo.

Aurecon Acting Managing Director, Defence and National Security ANZ, Adam Rankin, said the joint Ascend Program has only been made possible by the commitments of both Aurecon and the Department of Defence to increase diversity and inclusion.

Engineering and Defence are two sectors where females are traditionally underrepresented, both in workforce participation and at leadership levels. We are taking action with Defence to change that,” Adam said.

“By increasing female participation we can nurture and advance the diverse thinking required to solve some of society’s toughest problems. I am so proud to be able to continue to partner with Defence to further strengthen the leadership capability of our high-potential female leaders. We are already seeing the benefits following the inaugural joint program in 2020,” he said.

Australian Government Department of Defence First Assistant Secretary, Monique Hamilton, said the joint Ascend Program was a key initiative for both organisations to develop a strong pipeline of female leaders.

“The joint Ascend Program has been designed for women who want to step forward and influence change, instead of waiting for change to come to them. This initiative creates an environment where our future female leaders collaborate and learn from each other, and helps develop strong and supportive networks,” Monique said.

Aurecon Diversity and Inclusion Manager Australia & New Zealand, Penny Rush, said the Ascend Program is proven to increase confidence and leadership skills.

“A survey of participants from the inaugural joint Ascend Program found that 100 per cent feel more confident in their leadership capabilities and would recommend the program to friends and colleagues. Eighty-eight per cent said that they feel Ascend has prepared them to take on a more senior role in their organisation, and 95 per cent are actively seeking out new opportunities and stretch assignments. This highlights the real value of Ascend for Aurecon, and for Defence,” Penny said.

“The program teaches participants about why playing to their strengths is the single most powerful driver of improved performance in the workplace. It will inspire participants to set career goals, find courage and their own authentic voice, and build a pathway to leadership success,” Penny concluded.

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