Defence Force Recruiting: principal supporters of women’s leadership

21 April 2016

The 2016 She Leads Conference will be held on Tuesday 17 May at QT Canberra, with She Leads masterclasses to be held on Monday 16 May. Tickets and program details are now available at

Capt Natalie AdamsOpen to all, the She Leads Conference brings women from a range of sectors, at all stages of their leadership journeys, together with Australia’s most inspiring women leaders. YWCA Canberra is excited this year to have Defence Force Recruiting (DFR) join us as our Principal Supporter for the Conference.  DFR is a combined public sector/private sector initiative which provides an integrated recruitment organisation for the Australian Defence Force (ADF). With their strong focus on providing meaningful pathways into leadership for women in the Defence Force, and their numerous targeted programs for women’s leadership, we’re thrilled to have DFR’s support for the She Leads Conference.

Ahead of the conference, we spoke with Captain Natalie Adams to find out what an event like She Leads means to the Australian Defence Force.

What drew Defence Force Recruiting to supporting the She Leads Conference?

The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is actively seeking to increase the number of women in leadership roles because we know that women increase the ADF’s capability. With every role in the ADF now open to women, we want to make sure that women who are interested in leadership know about the many opportunities to develop and practise leadership skills in the inclusive, challenging and dynamic environment that is the ADF. The She Leads conference is a great way to engage with women who are interested in leadership and want to experience leadership with a difference – in roles that will challenge them and in an environment that actively seeks to develop and hone your leadership skills, like those offered by the ADF.

You were also the principal supporter of the She Leads Conference in 2015 – what was highlight of that experience?

One of the many highlights of our attendance at the 2015 conference was the opportunity to interact with so many aspiring leaders in such an inspirational and positive environment. We were able to learn a lot about the experiences of other women in leadership roles and the challenges they have faced. The opportunity to share our experience as leaders within the ADF provides the opportunity to demonstrate to young women exactly what kind of women are leaders within Defence – all kinds of women, just like you!

What are some of the strategies in place to support women’s leadership through careers in the Defence Force?

If you didn’t already know, all restrictions have been removed from roles in the ADF. This means that we’re likely to see a woman Chief of Defence Force or Chief of Army sooner rather than later! Women within the ADF expect (and get) an inclusive environment that values diversity, where women are paid the same as their male counterparts, have the same expectation of promotion, and parental leave and flexible working arrangements are available for both genders without impacting career progression. There are a number of women’s forums and mentoring programs that are run across the country, one of the most important being the Chief of Defence Force’s Women in the ADF Conference. This conference actively seeks to explore and resolve issues surrounding women progressing into senior leadership roles, and key leaders from all ADF units across Australia attend to ensure that the message of inclusivity and valuing diversity is passed consistently to every member of the ADF. Most of the key leaders at this conference are male, which demonstrates that the men are very interested in increasing the number of women in the ranks!

What are some of the benefits of working in Defence, specifically for women?

I love being a part of the ADF because I am part of a supportive and inclusive environment where my competence and contribution to capability is valued first, and my gender noticed later. We have some of Australia’s most challenging training for leaders – both physical and mental – and I think that this is a unique opportunity for women to be treated as equals.  Interestingly, the Australian Defence Force Academy is by far the safest university for any young woman to attend in Australia (google it!), and I consider the ADF as a whole to be a very safe working environment.

How would you like to engage with delegates to the She Leads Conference in May?

It would be our privilege to answer any questions that guests at the conference might have about being a woman in the ADF and our leadership experience. Most women in the ADF have had a positive and rewarding career, and we love any excuse to share that with other women!

To find out more about Defence Force Recruiting, visit their website. To find out more or register for She Leads 2016, visit our website. You can find out more about She Leads initiatives on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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