Congratulations to Kate Denborough, co-Creative Director of KAGE, who was named one of the 100 Women of Influence [Social Enterprise] in the second annual The Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence awards, which highlight the depth of female leadership talent in Australia.

Members of a new generation of high achievers in business and society have won recognition in the second annual The Australian Financial Review and Westpac Group 100 Women of Influence awards, which highlight the depth of female leadership talent in Australia.

The 100 finalists in the awards – who are revealed on Thursday – are located across all regions of Australia and were selected by an eminent judging panel from more than 500 entrants.

The number of entries was a 40 per cent increase on those received for the inaugural awards in 2012 and coincided with intense debate about the number of women who are in senior positions following Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s decision to include just one woman in his new cabinet.

The judges had an extraordinarily difficult job this year, narrowing it down to just 100. We have seen women making an impact in all parts of Australian life, busting stereotypes,” says the co-chairman of the judging panel, Narelle Hooper.

There are 10 categories in the awards: board/management, innovation, public ­policy, business entrepreneur, diversity, young leader, global, social enterprise or not-for-profit, philanthropy and local/regional.

The 100 finalists include well-known businesswomen, such as company director Elana Rubin and Carol Schwartz, founding chairman of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia. But the list includes an equal number of businesswomen with lower public profiles who have also made significant contributions to the community, including Susan Alberti, who is managing director of property development company DANSU Group, vice-president of the ­Western Bulldogs Football Club and also founder of the Susan Alberti Medical Research Foundation.

In Ms Alberti’s application for the awards, she said: “Women in this country have not received the recognition they deserve. I have always believed that achievement should be based on merit. But the achievement of women has not been celebrated or acknowledged in the way that it should.”

Schwartz was recognised again this year for her constant agitating for gender diversity in the senior ranks of the workforce, and Louise Davidson, an investment ­manager specialising in environmental, social and governance issues for superannuation fund Cbus, won a nomination for ­philanthropic work in founding the Mothers’ Day Classic fun run that raises money for breast cancer research.

In-depth judging process

All finalists were chosen in an intensive judging process after a national and international call for entries in July and August.

Broadly speaking, the judges considered a woman of influence to be someone who could demonstrate collaboration within and beyond her field, and a wider circle of influence than through her direct role.

The judges assessed a range of criteria, including a nominee’s personal and career achievements, their contribution and their ­mentoring and support for other women.

Several scientists, including Adele Green from the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute in Queensland, are among the finalists, as are women from fields as diverse as engineering, mining, education and the arts.

Skipp Williamson, a finalist in the business entrepreneur category, in 1996 founded a hands-on consulting company called Partners in Performance that has become a ­global business servicing blue-chip clients such as BHP Billiton in five continents.

The awards were launched in 2012 by then-prime minister Julia Gillard and this year’s judging panel was co-chaired by Hooper and Catherine Fox, both former journalists with The Australian Financial Review.

The other members of the panel included chairman of Investec David Gonski; former Oroton chief executive Sally MacDonald; and Westpac’s group executive of human resources and corporate affairs, Christine Parker. Also on the panel were chief executive of legal firm Allens, Michael Rose; IBM ­Australia and New ­Zealand managing director Andrew ­Stevens and Red Cross director Sue Vardon.

Community spirit noted

The nominees in the young leader category, including medical practitioner Phoebe ­Williams, highlighted the calibre and ­community spirt of those likely to dominate the senior ranks of women in coming years.

Fox said: “There were many young women, the judges noted, who combined professional careers with significant community and not-for-profit work. Many clearly saw no ­geographic barriers to their goals, with ­several establishing their own social enterprises ­overseas.

Chairman of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Shelley Reys, and chief executive of the Australian Indigenous Leadership Centre (AILC), Rachelle Towart, are among nearly a dozen indigenous women nominated as among the 100 most influential women in the country.

The number of high-achieving indigenous women participating in 2013 was ­particularly noted,” Fox said. “Some were working in the community or social enterprises and several in business and professional ­services.

All of them were making a strong ­contribution through their work as role models who are transforming attitudes and ­shattering stereotypes.

Towart wrote in her application form that “the AILC’s funding base is three times as large as when I took over the organisation in 2007, providing hundreds of additional training opportunities for graduates each year.”