The benefits of diversity in the workplace are undeniable. Research conducted by Amazon Australia found that over four out of five (82%) Australian workers say they are positively impacted by working in a diverse workplace[1], with external findings showing that a diverse and inclusive workforce, regardless of size and industry, generates tangible benefits. These include increased efficiency, productivity, innovation, creativity and improved employee engagement[2].

Despite this, not too long ago, there were more ‘Andrews’ leading ASX 200 organisations as CEOs, than there were women[3]

Even though the benefits of having women at every level of business are clear, there is still a long way to go in building representation. And businesses need to be taking intentional steps towards creating true equity within the workplace.

At Amazon, we believe that people from diverse backgrounds, offer unique perspectives and unconventional ideas and allow us to invent and innovate on behalf of our customers.

Gender inclusivity should always be top of mind, however International Women’s Day provides a platform to discuss and introduce tactics to meaningfully integrate women’s voice into the workplace.

Whether your business is big or small, here are some tips to foster a workplace where women feel supported to thrive.

Be intentional with your strategies to attract and develop talent

To make meaningful change, you cannot shy away from the task at hand. It is imperative that businesses acknowledge that women specific programs and hiring strategies are needed to attract, foster and retain great talent.

The first step is getting women through the front door. Outside of the role and work itself, it’s important to consider the benefits and flexibility you’re offering. Flexibility means different things to different people so in addition to work-from-home arrangements, consider how part time and job share may suit individuals with care responsibilities. Amazon is proud to offer paid parental leave for all parents, including parents of all genders and adoptive parents. Eligible primary caregivers get up to 20 weeks of paid leave and eligible secondary carers have access to six weeks paid leave.

Gender equity is also important throughout the hiring process. Gender neutral language should be used in job advertisements and where practical, equal representation present in interviews.

To ensure women are progressing through the business, and there is representation at all levels, it is important for businesses to integrate training and upskilling programs for women. This can include career development programs, role specific training, and education sessions on broader topics such as diversity and inclusion.

Facilitate connections via mentoring and networking

When thinking about creating a more inclusive environment, don’t underestimate the power of fostering connections between women employees. Meaningful relationships offer countless benefits in terms of job satisfaction as well as support, guidance and opportunities for career advancement via networking.

Encourage your employees to seek mentorship, attend networking events and join special interest groups. At Amazon, our ‘Women@’ affinity group is an employee support network that hosts events, generates ideas and introduces meaningful discussions. Additionally, we have a range of mentoring opportunities through our mentoring platform, external company-sponsored programs such as mentoring opportunities with the National Association of Women in Operations (NAWO) and affinity group pairings.

Ensure you’re giving your team the opportunity to take part in such activities and be inspired by others.

The impact of having women leaders cannot be undervalued. Not only do they act as advocates and mentors, sharing their career progression and success, they also offer women a clear pathway to follow for a successful career.

Establish a feedback loop

If you’re struggling to identify the wants and needs of your women employees, it’s time to start an open dialogue with the team. This means actively seeking out their input and feedback and taking this into consideration when making decisions.

Whether through a formal feedback forum or a casual chat around the lunch table, by listening to the perspectives of women employees, you can gain valuable insights into the challenges they face in the workplace and what can be done to better support them.

As a leader, this means giving everyone a voice to raise their concerns and ideas. And seeking out those who may not feel comfortable speaking out in a group to ensure they’re heard.

We need to ensure that women are not just in the team, but they are also given the platform to actively participate in and influence decision making.

Advice for women in the workplace

There’s no ‘secret sauce’ to succeeding in the workplace as a woman, it’s really about how you take advantage of the opportunities that are presented to you balanced with how you create opportunities for yourself. 

Make use of the training, mentorship and development opportunities around you. Seek advice and comradery with people across the business, attend technical training directly related to your job, and workshops in other skills such as communication, leadership, and problem-solving. By building your skills and network, you can increase your value to the organisation and position yourself for advancement opportunities.

With all of this aside, beyond everything else, for women in all industries and all stages of their career, the key to success is to advocate for yourself. Back yourself, advocate for the women around you, and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want and need at work.

For businesses, think big, seek out what is important to your employees, understand what will actually make a difference, and build your strategy from there. And don’t forget to focus on tangible actions that will move the dial in your organisation.

Michelle Theophilou is head of human resources for Amazon Operations Australia.

[1] Lonergan Workplace Report, Commissioned by Amazon Australia, October 2022


[3] Gender Equality at Work 2018, Conrad Liveris