Organisational efforts to increase gender equality in leadership have had limited success, and Australia’s ranking in the global gender equality index has slipped since 2006. We call this challenging stage in gender equality efforts the ‘last mile’. To understand what hinders or assists organisational efforts in the ‘last mile’ we conducted an in-depth study of the diversity efforts in a business unit of a large Australian bank. Interviews, focus groups and archival data analyses demonstrated that the bank’s gender equality performance was better than their institutional field, and the workforce was more optimistic about gender equality outcomes than executives. Ironically, these illusions of progress hindered the bank’s ability to travel the ‘last mile’.