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Women in leadership – the struggle continues

Although the business case for gender diversity is now extremely well documented, the ‘fear’ of having women in business persists.

As Julie McKay says in this video, when discussing the topic of increasing women in leadership positions, we often hear blank statements such as: “I absolutely support women in leadership, as long as they are the right kind of women” or “it’s not about gender, it’s about merit”.

The problem with these statements is that they assume ‘merit-based’ systems work, and will lead us not only to hire the best people but also, to drive gender equality.

The latest findings

Unfortunately, we don’t have to look further than the most recent stats to prove that meritocracy is failing Australian businesses. Adding to the already shocking statistics revealed in the video, below are some new figures from a KPMG report released yesterday, which analysed almost 600 entities across different sections of the ASX.

  • Just 5% of CEOs across top 100 Australian companies are female, the same rate as in 2011
  • 77% of smaller listed organisations, ASX 501+ companies, do not have any female board members.
  • The number of women on boards in ASX 501+ entities has gone backwards, down from 9% in 2013 to 6% in 2015.
  • In the top 100 Australian companies, 10% of COO/Deputy CEOs are female, the same rate as in 2011
  • The number of female CFOs in the top 100 Australian companies fell from 8% in 2011 to 6% in 2016.

The report also included some good news:

  • The main areas where female representation has improved are HR at 65%, general counsel at 39% and marketing, currently at 33%.
  • The number of women in senior IT roles has also increased, from 19% in 2011 to 29% in 2016.

The KPMG report also showed that commitment to gender diversity and quotas pays off:

  • Across all groups, it found that 51% said implementing a diversity policy assisted with employee retention, and 48% said it helped them attract high-calibre employees.
  • “Those companies which disclosed clear quantifiable objectives like ‘achieving 35 percent of women at a senior management level by 2015’ demonstrated a higher level of gender diversity than those which did not set quantitative targets. Publicly committing to quantifiable objectives really does drive good diversity outcomes.”

Autopia is committed to promoting gender diversity and it has produced in conjunction with UN Women Australia, a number of resources, including the ‘Re-Think: The Gender Diversity Series’ of whitepapers.

To find out more about these resources, please visit our Gender Diversity Resources page, by clicking on the button below.


Gender Diversity Resources

Posted by Larissa Varela

Marketing Manager and gender diversity advocate

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