Former Australian Prime Minister says gender equality ‘essential’ for millennials.

Moral case will galvanise political change.

The Hon Julia Gillard AC, former Prime Minister of Australia has said millennials will accelerate the drive towards greater diversity because they are impatient for greater flexibility and more options in their working lives. Gillard was speaking at the annual HR Directors’ dinner hosted by Odgers Berndtson in the UK. Gillard went on to say the next wave of change could look very different: “Young men also want greater flexibility and control over their lives and will recognise they need gender equality to have that.”

She added that the arguments based on merit and the business case had failed to accelerate change and deliver greater equality in all aspects of leadership and called for a new drive to push it higher up the political agenda.

“We need to mobilise for change as well as present the evidence,” Ms Gillard told several hundred HR Directors from top UK companies with a combined workforce of around four million people. “There’s a strong moral argument – that resonates with young people in particular – that here are some things we should do just because they’re right.”

Aine Hurley, Head of the People Performance and Culture Practice at Odgers Berndtson, told guests they are in the vanguard. “The Chief People Officer needs to drive changes in culture – using a global lens and creating the “glue” that brings people across an organisation together with shared purpose has never been more valued.”

Odgers Berndtson is in the top tier of executive search firms accredited by the UK government for its work in advancing women into senior leadership roles, with women gaining over half its FTSE 350 board appointments in the past two years. The firm is fully committed to diversity in inclusion in all its forms as part of its own broadly-based programme for change “Unlimited”.

Earlier this month, Ms Gillard guest-edited a special edition of Observe, the Odgers Berndtson magazine, to mark International Women’s Day. She is spearheading new work to drive change on gender as Chair of The Global Institute for Women’s Leadership at King’s College London.

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