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A multi-faceted approach to accelerating the representation of women in senior roles and foster an inclusive environment helped Deloitte shatter long-held perceptions about the role of women in professional services, and brought about significant change.

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The New Zealand branch of the multi-national professional services network has 1300 staff throughout the country, and while diversity and inclusion has been a focus for the organisation since 2013, the progression of women to senior roles was slower than anticipated.


This was attributed to perceptions around the difficulty of juggling family and a career in professional services, women leaving the profession being replaced by men at manager level and above, and consulting services heavily focused on technology offerings, a traditionally male-dominated area.

Seeing the need to accelerate the representation of women at senior levels, a series of initiatives were introduced under the umbrella of the ALL IN strategy.

Key to the strategy was modernising the parental leave policy to recognise the importance of shared care, supported by a flexible working policy. Eight weeks paid partner leave is available for up to two years following the birth or adoption of a child.

Head of People and Performance Sally Smyth says, “By removing barriers to both parents looking after their children and encouraging greater levels of shared care, Deloitte would improve outcomes for women and foster a more inclusive workplace.”

Sponsorship of senior female talent by partners and the introduction of a Women in Leadership (WIL) programme have encouraged women to stay with the business through to senior level.

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Director Risk Advisory Joanne Lu explains, “I am both a reserved person, who doesn't like to promote myself, as well as working in an industry that is highly male-dominated. It was great to have sponsors that gave me the opportunities to raise my profile, stretch out of my comfort zone, and to advocate for the work that I deliver.”

The ALL IN recruitment strategy identified key ways to improve outcomes for recruiting women to Deloitte. Quarterly reporting to the Management Group and Board on gender hiring progress, along with identifying the hiring partner and the shortlist composition, ensure the business remains focused on the associated goal of achieving greater gender parity at senior levels in the business.

Sally Smyth says ALL IN received the full support of leadership and has led to a significant increase in the number of women in senior leadership roles.

“Key to implementation has been the role of leadership in terms of fronting all communications, particularly from our CEO,” she says.

Judging convener Kirstin Te Wao says Deloitte is leading the way by demonstrating that gender pay equity needs to start even before appointments are made. “By making starting salaries gender neutral and creating recruitment shortlists that are gender balanced, Deloitte is making a genuine commitment to pay equity at all levels of the organisation.” The initiative has been implemented well and supported by leadership.

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