International Women’s Day (IWD) on March 8 celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political achievement of women all around the world. IWD is also an opportunity for all of us to call for action to accelerate gender diversity and equality.
When it comes to closing the gender gap, there has been progress in some areas, however, we still have a long a way to go, as found on Capitalising on Culture and Gender in ASX Leadership. A landmark research by Diversity Council Australia and Deakin University, with the financial support of CPA Australia, which tracked the extent of cultural diversity among women in leadership in ASX companies from 2004 to 2015.
What has been achieved
The four main positives found by the latest DCA research are:
Women’s representation in ASX leadership is at an all-time high: Across all ASX companies, in 2015, women represented 8.2% of all directors, 4.2% of all CEOs, 4.9% of all ASX senior executives and 13% of all CFO roles.
The proportion of culturally diverse female leaders has doubled: Between 2004-2015 percentage of culturally diverse women in CFO roles increased from 2.0% to 4.1%, from 1.1% to 2.5% in director roles, from 1.0% to 1.9% in senior executive roles, and doubled from 0.5% to 1.0% in CEO roles.
Female senior executives have a healthy representation of culturally diverse women: In 2015, the cultural mix of female senior executives (39%) is higher than the cultural mix of male senior executives (31%).
Female ASX leaders have diversified, and their cultural mix reflects the Australian community: In 2015, of female leaders in ASX companies, the proportion who are culturally diverse is about the same as the proportion of Australian adults who are culturally diverse (33%)
But still so much to do
The actual number of female culturally diverse ASX leaders is very small: In 2015 only 1.0% (15) of all 1482 ASX CEOs are culturally diverse women.
The rate of change is very slow – women are moving into ASX leadership roles very slowly: Since 2004, the percentage of women in ASX leadership roles has increased by 4% at the most.
Culturally diverse women experience a ‘double jeopardy’: DCA research found culturally diverse women may experience a ‘double jeopardy’ in ASX leadership; where their gender and culture combine to make it harder than non-culturally diverse women or even culturally diverse men to access leadership roles.
This year’s IWD’s theme is #BeBoldForChange, calling on all of us to take action to forge a better working environment and a more gender inclusive world.
At Autopia, we are proud to say that for some years now, we have been taking steps to drive gender diversity within our organisation as well as in our business community and we are committed to continuing to do so. It’s this focus which has led us to go from no female representation to achieving 41% across our organisation as well as 75% female representation in our middle management team in the last five years.
We truly believe that gender diversity is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do. That’s why in 2014 we partnered with UN Women National Committee Australia. A partnership that has allowed us to financially support a number of UN Women’s initiatives, as well as to jointly produce “Re-Think: The Gender Diversity Series”, a set of three whitepapers aiming to stimulate thought and discussion around the topic.
Although we have made progress, we know there’s still much to do. The World Economic Forum predicts the gender gap won’t close entirely until 2186! But we can’t wait for so long. The change is in our hands, and around the world, IWD can be an important catalyst and vehicle for driving greater change for women and moving closer to gender equality.
There are many ways how you can #BeBoldForChange and take action to drive gender equality, you can challenge gender and cultural stereotypes, campaign against violence, champion women’s education or support a worthy organisation fighting for the rights of women around the globe such as UN Women Australia.
Whichever way you choose, just remember, it is up to us to finally achieve gender equality, to spark the necessary change, but we need to act now!
So are you ready to #BeBoldForChange this International Women’s Day?