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Unearthing Australia's most influential women


Westpac and The Australian Financial Review launch the 100 Women of Influence Awards for 2016.


Nominations are now open for The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards, designed to increase the visibility of women's leadership and highlight the important contribution women make in creating a bold and diverse future for Australia.


Westpac and Fairfax Media officially launched the 2016 program at an event in Sydney on Friday, featuring a keynote address by the 2015 Women of Influence Awards overall winner, Ann Sherry AO. Westpac Group CEO, Brian Hartzer, marked the launch with a nationwide call for individuals and businesses to nominate an inspiring and influential woman across the 10 categories.


Mr Hartzer said, "We all know inspiring women who are making a real difference in our society. It's through nominating these women for honours like the 100 Women of Influence Awards that Australia can celebrate, recognise and promote their enduring efforts and success.


"Australians are equipped to adjust to our evolving service economy; we have a responsibility to ensure we support a diverse workplace, which can bring together varied perspectives, dynamic solutions and better decision-making.


"Women make a significant contribution to ensuring the continued success of Australia's economy. Fully mobilising the female workforce will allow Australia to reach its full potential. Supporting women isn't just a nice thing to do - it is a business imperative.


Mr Hartzer added, "Westpac are actively seeking talented leaders to join our Equilibrium Program, which brings highly accomplished women into the financial services sector and provides them with the training needed succeed at a more senior, more critical leadership position beyond their current specialisation. We want to see the next Ann Sherry, who championed for access to paid maternity leave while at Westpac, join us to help make a real change in Australia for women in the workplace as we work towards a truly diverse future."


Greg Hywood, Fairfax Media CEO said, "The 100 Women of Influence Awards are a vitally important, agenda-setting, program that Fairfax Media is proud to be part of and it is great to be kicking off the 2016 season.


"By the end of this year, the Women of Influence program will have recognised 500 influential, inspirational and visionary women. Each has a powerful story of how they have made, and are making, a difference. Fairfax relishes being able to amplify their triumphs and achievements. These individuals will inspire and empower people and organisations to make a real difference and change for the better.


"Last year's overall winner, Executive Chairman of Carnival Australia, Ann Sherry, is a standout example of an extraordinary force for progressing gender equality and diversity in business and our community. She is a key influencer among a new generation of leaders. 


"At Fairfax we are focused on pursuing gender diversity, equality and inclusiveness for all employees. We have made progress - but we have much more to do. As a nation, clearly more needs to be done in all aspects of gender equality, and broader diversity - age, geography, ethnicity and matters indigenous. There's no ducking it. We all need to drive fundamental cultural change. Every day, every opportunity," Mr Hywood said.


The 2015 Woman of Influence Overall and Diversity category winner Ann Sherry said, "Being named the overall winner of the 2016 The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards was a privilege, creating experiences that have filled me with optimism about the impact this group of women will have on our country.


"Following the Awards, it has been an honour to meet so many women who have each been inspired by the awards - women who are from science to the arts, community sectors and commerce.  


"This Award creates a wave of women, young and older, to take action to pave the way for at least one other woman on the same journey knowing that the combined effect of these individual actions can make a material and wide scale difference across many areas of endeavour.


"The Awards are a powerful reminder that while great progress has been made, there are still challenges to overcome, but I am more convinced than ever that there is a desire for change to an inclusive world in which the entire community ultimately benefits."


Nominations for the 2016 The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence Awards open Friday, 3 June 2016, and close on 5 August 2016. Entries can be submitted online at 


The 10 categories include: Board/Management, Public Policy, Young Leader, Social Enterprise and Not-for-Profit, Culture, Global Influence, Innovation, Local/Regional Community, Diversity and Business Enterprise. Entries will be assessed by a panel of well-regarded judges, which will be announced in early October.


A gala event celebrating the 100 Women of Influence winners and announcing the category and overall winners will be held at Sydney Town Hall on Thursday, 27 October 2016.


Joanne Gray, The Australian Financial Review BOSS magazine editor, and Ainslie van Onselen, Westpac's Director Women's Markets, Inclusion and Diversity, will co-chair the judging for 2016. Judges for this year's program also include Lucy Turnbull AO, Sydney's first ever female Lord Mayor; Ann Sherry, 2015 Woman of Influence; Elizabeth Broderick AO, 2014 Woman of Influence; Leonie Walsh, Lead Scientist for the Victorian Government; and Professor Robert (Bob) Wood, Director of the Centre for Ethical Leadership.


The opening of the Awards follows a series of announcements from the Westpac Group, including making it standard operating procedure to recognise paid parental leave and return to work income for up to 12 months for home lending, and a partnership with the Victorian State Government designed to tackle unconscious bias in recruitment by piloting an anonymous applications program.