What is Willow?

Willow is a one of a kind tangible solution to the intersectional barriers hindering participation and advancement of underrepresented communities by developing the capability of senior leaders to advocate for and sponsor women in their organisation.

Willow focuses on engaging men in the program as sponsors. By fostering allyship and active participation of men, the program creates a more supportive and inclusive work environment for all, and women step up to lead. To date clients have failed to achieve these outcomes using traditional DEI approaches and are looking for a shift.

Willow is designed for women and men, from all cultural backgrounds and works in harmony with your organisational initiatives to truly cultivate the mindsets, behaviours and systems needed for gender equality. Willow is more than just an online program, it delivers leadership development, workplace culture change, supports organisational talent and succession planning and cultivates individual ambition and growth. Willow is designed for women, men and organisations who want to cultivate meaningful, intentional career pathways for everyone.

Who is Willow?

The willow tree, characterized by its expansive branches and foliage, stands as a representation of flexibility and adaptability, reminding us of our strength and tenacity no matter the conditions. 

Trees are deeply symbolic across different cultures and places. Embedded in our lives and stories for centuries, trees hold distinct meanings, influenced by their growth locations and the narratives woven around them over time which is why it became the symbol of our gender equality program. 

Why does Australia need Willow?

Australia’s employment sectors remain highly gendered and the majority of CEO positions and boards still dominated by men.

Research finds that informal male-to-male sponsorship within male dominated sectors maintains men’s powerfulness and overrepresentation in business.  Women are routinely overlooked and denied access to informal sponsorship in male dominated workplaces. Women tend to be over-mentored and under-sponsored. 

For Indigenous women, it is even harder to gain access to strategic alliances in business to build their career advancement (Galea et al. 2018, Hewlett and Ihezie 2022). At the same time, research finds in male dominated workplaces a culture of denial and indifference towards gender equality initiatives among senior and mid-level male managers, a growing resistance amongst male workers and the acceptance of sex-based harassment and bullying (AHRC 2020) making efforts to improve gender equality more difficult. 

The need for sponsorship is backed by global research.  When sponsored by senior leaders, women’s retention, progression and the workplace culture and safety dramatically improve 

Findings published in the recent Women@Work 2022: A Global Outlook report by Deloitte found that Covid made the situation worse.

Almost 60% of women who work in hybrid environments feel that they have been excluded from important meetings, and almost half say they do not have enough exposure to leaders, a critical enabler of sponsorship and career progression.

Barriers to gender equality

There is a growing recognition of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace and yet progress has slowed. Traditional approaches have failed to shift the dial. 


of women do not feel confident to seek out a sponsor.


of women report that when they see women leaders, they believe they can get there too.

Why does Willow work?

Traditional DEI programs fail by taking a deficit-based approach. 

Willow works because it builds an enduring strengths-based connection between the sponsor and sponsee and challenges traditional mindsets which inhibit change.


Willow works at 3 levels...

Supports organisations to identify non-traditional talent who have the potential to advance and grow in their organisation.

Provides leaders the tools to dramatically change workplace culture by building strategic alliances with traditionally underrepresented talent in their organisations.

Provides the sponsor and sponsee with a structure framework to cultivate a high impact sponsorship relationship that builds trust, conection and two way learning about how to create more equitable access to career pathways.

Impact Analysis

Our system of sponsorship is so much more than “training” or “mentoring”. It is a strategic alliance between a senior leader and an emerging leader.

Sponsors believe and invest in the careers of emerging leaders by giving them access to opportunity, supporting their skill development and advocating for them. When emerging leaders are recognised and supported, they add value to the company. What mentorship lacks, sponsorship delivers.

As Carla Harris, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley stated:

“A mentor, frankly, is nice to have. You can survive a long time in your career without a mentor, but you are not going to ascend in any organization without a sponsor.”

More than 400 graduates across Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, China, India and Bangladesh have successfully completed our Willow program, covering diverse industries and organisations.  You can read below what some of our graduates have said about the impact Willow had on them personally...

Promoting and improving gender equality in the workplace

The Workplace Gender Equality Agency is an Australian Government statutory agency created by the Workplace
Gender Equality Act 2012. 

Is sponsorship in your 2024?

Click below to register your interest in the Cultivate Sponsorship Program for next year! But get in quick as there is only limited spots available for our 2024 intake.