Women's Business
Women of Colour Australian

Women of Colour Australia [WoCA]
Executive Leadership Program [ELP]

Women of Colour Australia (WoCA),  is proud to announce the start of a new partnership with the Victorian Government. WoCA will lead the co-design of a new Executive Leadership Program [ELP], with funding from the Victorian Government, to address the structural barriers to leadership for Women of Colour.


The ELP is a joint partnership program by WoCA and Women's Business, a First Nations owned and led organisation amplifying Women of Colour in Leadership. Women's Business is founded by Katja (Kat) Henaway. Kat is a proud descendant of the Meriam and Mua peoples of the Torres Strait Islands.


The ELP will support high potential Women of Colour navigate the structural, cultural, and organisational barriers in their organisations, identify strategies to address gender and cultural biases in the workplace, and gain hands-on knowledge and enhanced capability to advance their careers at the senior level. 


A pilot ELP will be developed for a cross-sector audience of professional women across public, private, and not-for-profit sectors. Using a co-design approach, the ELP will target Women of Colour and First Nations women who currently hold or aspire to hold senior executive positions of leadership and influence in their workplaces, communities, and areas of interest.


WoCA will manage the co-design project. The output is a tailored, fit-for-purpose, and culturally sensitive ELP framework ready for delivery. A co-design ELP developed with and for Women of Colour will draw on their expertise, diversity, and lived experience; and is expected to respond to the structural and cultural biases that limit leadership progression.


In June 2021, WOCA released findings of its inaugural ‘Women of Colour in the Australian Workplace’ survey, offering a unique insight into additional barriers that Women of Colour face in accessing positions of leadership. Driving this added burden are intersecting and overlapping disadvantages including gender biases, racism, language barriers, and other forms of workplace discrimination.


Why the Department is Funding this Activity


The Victorian Government is committed to advancing gender equality and seeks to increase the participation of women in leadership positions. This program supports the broad structural reform work occurring across government, including the implementation of the Gender Equality Act 2020 and Safe and Strong: A Victorian Gender Equality Strategy, in calling for all Victorians to be visible, have an equal voice and occupy decision making roles not only at work but in communities, sport, media and the arts (Outcome 4). The program aligns with the recently approved Strategic Framework for Women in Leadership which guides the overall approach to investment in women’s leadership within the Women’s Portfolio, namely:


(1) Systemic Change- addressing structural barriers to women’s leadership;

(2) Diverse Leaders- supporting greater leadership by diverse Victorian women, and

(3) Sustainable Impact- ensuring programs translate to leadership outcomes.


This new partnership with WoCA provides a strong complement to the Department's current offerings, including the Australian Institute of Company Directors which has a corporate focus, and the Joan Kirner Emerging Leaders Program targeting young women and male-dominated industries. Sustained investment in women's leadership programs is expected to build a strong pipeline of diverse women serving, staying, and excelling in leadership positions over time. 

For further information about the ELP,  please email elp@womenofcolour.org.au

We exist to champion Australia’s Women of Colour.


"Women of Color is not a biological designation. It is a solidarity definition. A commitment to work in collaboration with other oppressed women of color who have been minoritized. It is a term that has a lot of power." Loretta Ross
Learn more here


Women - Transgender and cisgender, all those who experience or have experienced oppression as women, including non-binary and gender non-conforming people and all those who identify as women. Self-definition is at the discretion of the individual.
Definition credit: wire.org.au


A - always centre the impacted
L - listen and learn from those who live in oppression
L - leverage your privilege
Y - yield the floor
*Mnemonic credit: Kayla Reed Executive Director ACTION St. Louis Follow Kayla Reed on Twitter @iKaylaReed

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We acknowledge the Wallumattagal clan of the Darug nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land upon which Women of Colour Australia is situated. We pay our respects to their Elders past and present. We acknowledge and honour the strength and resilience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women with whom we stand in solidarity. We acknowledge that as settlers on this stolen Aboriginal land, we are beneficiaries of the dispossession, genocide, and ongoing colonial violence against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. We believe that it is our collective responsibility and moral imperative to help dismantle the structural inequities and systemic barriers oppressing the original inhabitants of this land. We are also painfully aware that the land was taken forcibly, without a Treaty or reparations made. We have taken a practical step towards honouring sovereignty by paying the rent – and we invite you to do so too. This land is and always will be Aboriginal land. Sovereignty was never ceded.

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