Action plan guide

Find useful advice and resources to help guide you through each suggested action area in your action plan.

Do I understand the business case for gender parity (and diversity more broadly) and inclusion?

Understand the business case for board gender parity and inclusion beyond a focus on compliance with targets. Understanding the business case for diversity and inclusion is critical in the journey for gender parity. Below are some suggested materials to help you in understanding the research and how gender parity increases board and organisational performance.

Compare board performance

Compare the board that you work closely with and their diversity performance with other boards (e.g. government, private and NFP sectors). Knowing the diversity performance of different boards provides an insight for you as a recruiter to understand any potential barriers impacting the selection of women into board directorships.

Do key decision-makers and the board demonstrate a strong commitment to gender parity and inclusion?

Share the value of gender parity

Share with the board and other key decision-makers the research showing the value of gender parity and inclusion. Finding time to read the vast amounts of research on the business case for gender parity can be overwhelming. As part of recruitment efforts, presenting an overview of the business case for gender parity can encourage board member and key decision-maker awareness.

Have an honest conversation

Have an honest conversation with the board chair, board and other key decision-makers (e.g. industry groups) about the topic of gender parity and inclusion, including the business case and risks of inaction.

Ensuring senior leaders share a personal belief in the need to change, and a willingness to challenge the status quo is an important first step in the journey. This will require an open and authentic conversation about the current state and the value of diversity and inclusion at a board. More than just talk, it will also require staunch commitment and a conscious decision to act.

Below are some suggested questions to help you start a conversation with other board members around diversity and inclusion, including different frames of reference, beliefs and appetite for change.

  • What does diversity and inclusion mean to each of us?
  • Do we think diversity and inclusion is important to our board? Why/why not?
  • How diverse and inclusive do we think the board currently is? Is there a need for change?  Are we committed to change?
  • What concerns do we have in relation to diversity and inclusion? How can we address these?
  • What do we think it will take to have gender parity on our board?

Do I role model inclusion?

Professional development

Engage in professional development relating to unconscious bias and strategies to disrupt its impact during recruitment. Understanding the impact that unconscious bias can have on recruitment is a great first step in promoting a diverse and inclusive workplace. The resources below can increase your awareness of unconscious bias as well as tactics to help you address them.

Do the selection criteria accurately reflect the skills and experiences required of the board member?

Skills matrix

Include diversity within the board’s skills matrix (i.e. within the skills-based framework, boards should strive for greater diversity). Below is an example skills matrix template that outlines key skills and capabilities as well as gender, age and ethnicity organisation-wide.

Role analysis

Conduct a role analysis for every role you plan to recruit to (not just new ones). Deconstruct what is required in terms of skills and capabilities. Challenge any inappropriate selection criteria which may unintentionally influence the gender balance of candidates and formally notify key decision-makers to take action.

Selection criteria

Include a demonstrated track record of commitment to diversity and inclusive behaviours as personal qualities in the selection criteria. Having a candidate that has a history of being involved in advocating for diversity and inclusion or demonstrates a strong commitment to inclusive behaviours should be a key criterion when selecting a candidate.

Formal approval

Ensure the board chair and other key decision-makers have formally approved the suggested selection criteria. Having formal board approval for the selection criteria further reinforces board commitment to diversity and inclusion as well as ensuring new candidates share the same demonstrated commitment.

Have targets been set relating to gender parity and inclusion in recruitment?

Identify KPIs

In conjunction with board or key decision-makers, identify gender specific targets in the recruitment process. Some examples include:

  • candidate shortlist to include at least 40% women candidates
  • shortlist/interview pool to include at least 40% women candidates
  • 100% of interviewed candidates perceive process as fair and transparent
  • gender balanced selection panel
  • new board appointees to comprise 50% women by 2020.

Key principles of target setting


Set clear targets with timelines to ensure progress can be measured.

Small steps

Consider setting interim goals and measures as steps towards a longer term goal. This will focus immediate efforts and encourage momentum, while enabling the organisation to monitor progress.


Ensure managers can influence the metrics and have appropriate control over the strategies and initiatives to achieve the targets.


Set targets that can be achieved. This requires a thorough analysis of all the possible barriers to achieving targets and the support needed for maximising the opportunities to achieve them.


Create managerial accountabilities and rewards, e.g. linking remuneration to achieving targets. Learn more about how to set gender diversity targets (PDF).

Do nominees from specific individuals, groups or organisations include female candidates?

Business case for gender parity

Share the business case for gender parity and inclusion with those who nominate potential candidates.

Gender balanced nominations

Request individuals, groups or organisations to provide gender balanced list of nominations. Having a gender balanced list to choose from is a simple and effective way to bring more women into the running for board positions. This simple, yet effective strategy is the first step in achieving gender parity on boards.

Is the position advertised widely to help reach the best and broadest range of candidates?

Review for biased language

Review the language in the advertisement and role description for gender bias. There is increasing evidence that gender biased language in job advertisements exists and can work to (unintentionally) sustain gender inequality by discouraging female applicants to apply.

Engage agencies with a commitment to diversity and inclusion

Engage a professional search agency with a track record of commitment to gender parity, including successful placement of female board directors, and require the consultant to comply with the candidate list targets set.

Expression of interest

Post expression of interest opportunities on a variety of websites to encourage applications from suitably qualified applicants. Below is a selection of forums that post board opportunities that a wide range of audiences can access.

Encourage candidates to join the Queensland Register of Nominees to government bodies

Serving on a government board, committee or statutory authority is a rewarding and productive way to get involved with government and help shape Queensland. Find out how to join the register.

Writing a CV

Assist women applying to Queensland Register of Nominee’s (QRON) to accurately represent their skills and experience. Females tend to underrepresent their skills and experience when applying for new roles. Below are some examples of how to write winning board CVs.

Is the selection panel gender balanced and committed to gender parity and inclusion?

Gender balanced selection panel

Ensure the suggested make-up of the selection panel, provided to the board and other key decision-makers, is gender balanced.

Be selective

Include only panel members with a demonstrable track record of commitment to gender parity and inclusion.

Formal approval

Ensure the board chair and other key decision-maker(s) have formally approved the selection panel.

Is the shortlisting and interview process free of bias?

Standard application form

Use a standard application form to ensure consistent information is obtained from all candidates. Using a standard application form allows for an equitable shortlisting of applicants by providing a more transparent and objective approach reducing the risks of assessing applicants on non-job relevant criteria.

Develop interview guidelines

Develop interview guidelines to help the panel members be fair and objective in decision-making. For example, structured interviews including a list of questions to ask all candidates, using individual scorecards to rate candidates based on the role criteria, engaging in note taking and documenting justification for decisions are key practices that should be adopted when recruiting.

Checklist: Preventing discrimination in recruitment

  • Plan your approach to ensure you comply with your obligation to prevent discrimination in the recruitment process.
  • Educate others involved in the recruitment process about their obligation.
  • Cast the net as widely as possible to attract a diverse pool of applicants.
  • Be consistent and fair in the way you treat candidates.
  • Accommodate people who require adjustments.
  • Do not seek irrelevant personal information from applicants.
  • Focus on the essential requirements of the job.
  • Set aside personal bias, myths and stereotypes.
  • Keep records of your decisions.
  • Select the person best suited to the job.

Is diversity and inclusion included in the board induction process?

Information on diversity and inclusion

Include information on diversity and inclusion in the board induction pack. The below articles are just a sample of the vast research available on diversity and inclusion.

Review onboarding process

Suggest to chairs an update to their onboarding processes such as first meeting kick-off when a new member joins. Having diversity and inclusion incorporated in the onboarding process sets the tone for new recruits and further reinforces the organisation’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.