How former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly explains women's empowerment 'in a nutshell'

Former Westpac CEO Gail Kelly is a leadership icon.

After becoming the first female CEO of a major Australian bank in 2002, Kelly has been at the forefront of dismantling the glass ceiling of corporate Australia through her time heading up advisory boards and meetings.

But with females making up only 3.5% of Australian CEOs, Kelly has been trying to boost the number of women to pursue corporate executive roles.

And there’s a good reason for that too.

“When women are involved women think about the children, the older people, the whole community, whereas the men think mostly for themselves. That’s women’s empowerment in a nutshell,” she told The Australian.

Since retiring from her corporate post at Westpac, Kelly has taken her skills elsewhere, leading aid agencies in Australia and supporting women’s empowerment in emerging market economies.

At the heart of it all, Kelly says that leadership — whether it be in the boardroom or the community — boils down to how much you can give back.

“It’s an unusual thing for a banking CEO to talk about but it goes to a fundamental belief in the power of people to make a difference, respect for individuals, genuinely wanting the best for each person at every level,” she told The Australian.

“It implies a capability to listen, to walk in others’ shoes; definitely not quick to judge, definitely not selfish, definitely not arrogant, definitely not all-knowing, it implies a self-awareness so that you can understand your impact on others.

“There is nothing soft about this… It’s a very intensive style of leadership, a human style of leadership and it absolutely works.”

There’s more here.

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