Encouraging Courage

Courage is caring enough about your values, that you uphold these and demonstrate this strength each and every day.

During my Address at the recent Senior School Parent Information Evening, I spoke of the need to inspire young women to embrace the virtue of courage.

I was interested to read over the holidays of research conducted by the Australian Business Magazine, The Deal, in collaboration with Chief Executive Women (CEW). The CEW represents more than 400 of Australia’s most senior and distinguished female leaders. This includes past and present Board members of institutions such as Wesfarmers, Telstra, Sydney University, Macquarie Group, McKinsey and Co, ANU, Westpac and the ABC, to name but a few. The research was conducted in the form of a survey of 250 CEW members. It explored the views of women navigating the workplace, gender balance in the boardroom and issues juggling work/life balance. The survey revealed:

  • one third were unable to muster what it takes to ask for a pay rise;
  • half the women surveyed said they would need at least 40% of people in the room to be women before they would feel confident to be in the boardroom;
  • 40% lacked the confidence to apply for a role beyond their expertise, a prevailing sense that they need to have all the knowledge, skills and expertise before applying for a higher role; hence they refrained from applying for promotional positions;
  • the survey did, however, encouragingly confirm that women were supportive of each other, and celebrated the success of others.


The results reveal somewhat of a crisis of confidence for some of Australia’s most senior female executives in navigating their world of employment and a need for exhibiting greater courage in stepping up for new roles, finding their voice at the board table and, subsequently, an improved level of involvement at the decision making aspects of business. I have encouraged all girls this year in our Senior School to be courageous, to step outside their comfort zone, to simply never walk out of a class confused and silenced by a lack of courage to ask questions and to speak up. Young women must be able to negotiate, to speak, to express an opinion in a respectful and thoughtful manner and, above all else, to find their voice.

One of the most significant books on Leadership I have read remains the Seven Heavenly Virtues of Leadership. The seven virtues include: Humility, Courage, Integrity, Compassion, Humour, Passion and Wisdom. Last week, when I addressed our Year 12 cohort, it was the virtue of ‘courage’ that I would like them to take forward into the year. Perhaps a better word to describe this feature in a school context is bravery. This can be defined as the ability to keep going when challenged, to be hopeful and confident with one’s decision. Courage is caring enough about your values, that you uphold these and demonstrate this strength each and every day. I request of our parent community to support me in the ‘encouragement of courage’ with your daughters this year.

Mrs Michelle Carroll


Up next