Case study: Queensland Heritage Council Board


Established under the Queensland Heritage Act 1992 the Queensland Heritage Council (QHC) has the important task of identifying and protecting places that have special heritage value to the Queensland community and future generations. The QHC recently achieved its first ever female majority in its history with 8 women and 4 men on its 12 member board.

We chat with Fiona Gardiner, a Director from the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, to find out more.

Action taken

Reaching out to professional and community organisations

Professional organisations played a key role in providing female board candidates. Here Fiona and her team took a broad approach by writing letters followed by calls to as many organisations as possible including professional associations, universities, conservation groups, and historical societies emphasising that they were looking for gender balanced candidates.

Fiona recalls:

My background is an architect, so I rang the professional associations [in architecture] to let them know we are looking for gender balance so we [her team] used our personal networks wherever possible.

As a result, a total of 52 letters were sent to organisations inviting them to submit gender balanced candidates. From this process, several of the current female board members appointed were identified.

As Fiona says:

Recruiters need to expand their personal network if they are looking for a diverse meritorious group of candidates.

Contacting individual female candidates

Fiona and her team also contacted individuals who had previously applied or expressed interest in joining the QHC board including individuals whom they thought might be interested to submit a nomination. From this, they were able to connect to 26 individuals, inviting them to nominate, adding further to the pool of the already strong female candidates.


A strong female candidate list

Through Fiona and her team’s efforts, they were able to submit a strong female candidate list to the relevant Minister for consideration. In total, 66 nominations were received, of which 23 were female candidates. All the nominations were assessed against the criteria and a list of 23 meritorious candidates, which included 10 very meritorious females, was submitted to the Minister.

A high calibre female board majority

Initially, gender balance was one of the objectives of the new board but given the strong female candidate pool, it resulted in the Minister appointing the QHC’s first ever female majority and second female chair in its history – consisting of 8 women and 4 men, a reversal of the previous board’s make up. When the Minister made the announcement, Fiona says:

I was delightfully surprised when the final decision was made. It was to do with the high calibre of the women who nominated.

Lessons learned

Empowering women

Making it known that gender balance is an objective of the new board can empower the whole process. Fiona says:

Knowing that there is a directive from the Premier to achieve gender balance on the board was empowering for someone like me, so I could talk to women and encourage them to nominate themselves for a board position. Women knew that they weren’t just putting their name up for any ordinary board nomination process but they knew they were in a process where there would be gender balance.

As Fiona found “this was very important for women".

Being persistent

In helping to achieve gender balance, persistency helps. In one instance, Fiona recalls reaching out to an industry association for gender balanced candidates only to receive male candidates. Here she sent the candidate list back to them reiterating the importance of having a gender balanced candidate list.

From this, a gender balanced candidate list was submitted with one of the female candidates appointed by the Minister onto the current board. As Fiona says:

It’s about being persistent; continue working at it and you’ll get the right candidates.

Queensland Heritage Council Board
Queensland Heritage Council Board