Carole Cooper has spent over 20 years helping customers and employees through each stage of their Flight Centre experience. As the co-founder of Womenwise, Carole is passionate about inspiring and creating opportunities for women within the Flight Centre Travel Group.

We spoke to Carole about her involvement with Womenwise, as well as key challenges and opportunities for women in the workplace.

Hi Carole, what was the inspiration behind Womenwise? What outcomes have you seen since it first started?

The Flight Centre Travel Group global workforce is 75 percent female, however at the time we started Womenwise our senior leadership team has a high percentage of men. To work out why this was the case, we conducted a survey and found that:

  1. Women did not feel confident applying for roles as they believed they did not have all the competencies to do the role.

  2. They had a higher fear of failure

  3. They were time-poor

Womenwise places these challenges at its core, with great programs and processes to ensure that we are achieving gender parity in roles at Flight Centre. For all our senior leadership positions, we ensure there is an equal amount of women and men on the interview panel and that the applicants we select comprise of an equal number of men and women.

What are you most proud of about Womenwise?

There have been so many triumphs with Womenwise. We have some talented women in Flight Centre that have been able to step forward, and we have retained many great women as a result of the group and its events. We have also encouraged many women to apply for roles and given them the confidence to be successful. That’s something I’m extremely proud of.

What kind of speakers do you have at Womenwise events?

We’ve had many great speakers. Our very first speaker was Todd Sampson, who was very inspiring and really set the tone for our event. We’ve also had Julia Gillard, Layne Beachley, Shelley Horton, Dr Ginny and Holly Ransom – all of whom had incredible stories and insights.

Why do you think it can be harder for women to grow their careers? What factors set them back?

We are very lucky that this is not the case in Flight Centre Travel Group, however I understand women have to work harder to achieve the same success, they have to fight harder for the same wage, and they can be discriminated against because they have children – all of which makes it more difficult to progress. Women are also often taught to believe they need to “behave like men” to get the job.

Why is it important for women to see and learn from empowering female leaders?

Seeing and learning from empowering female leaders gives women the confidence to go for a role, do something different and be successful in their own right. By knowing and meeting others who have done it before, it gives you the push that you can do it too. It doesn’t matter who you are – we can all learn from women who have achieved success.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to women starting out their careers?

Three simple tips I would give are:

  1. Be authentic

  2. Be courageous

  3. Be compassionate in everything you do

Do you think professional development workshops are valuable for people wanting to be leaders? How have they shaped you as a leader?

I believe any type of learning is great. It expands your knowledge and exposes you to new ways of thinking. For me, professional development training has made me a better leader by broadening my thinking and allowing me to look at how other companies solve similar problems.

Why is it important for men to be involved in championing gender equality in the workplace?

My preference is always to be inclusive, and if we work together, we can achieve so much more. I want men to understand the challenges that women face, not just to broaden their understanding of our experience, but also so they can see how much women can contribute as leaders and team members.

Curious to find out more about Flight Centre Travel Group's Womenwise movement? Find out more about how Flight Centre is building a new generation of female leaders here.

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