The Australian Financial Review has definitively named the “seven most influential leaders” in business that have defined growth over the past 70 years. Not a single woman, or person of colour, was mentioned in the list that focused on seven white men described as “powerbrokers”.
Lang Hancock, Ian Potter, Frank Lowy, Rupert Murdoch, Ian McLennan, David Clarke, and Brian McNamee were the men nominated by the AFR.
To suggest in 2021 that not one woman has been a leading figure in shaping the business landscape in Australia, is ridiculous. Leadership expert and business leader Kristin Ferguson said as much on social media this week.
“Seriously, AFR?” Ferguson wrote.
“I know diversity is dire but I find it impossible to believe there is not a single woman who has shaped Australian business over the past 70 years. Or a person from a non-Anglo background.
“Please look harder.”
To remedy the situation, we’ve put together our own brief list of highly influential women in Australian business; undoubtedly “powerbrokers” in their fields:
Businesswoman Gail Kelly became the first female CEO of a big four bank in Australia, leading St George bank from 2002 to 2007 and Westpac from 2008 to 2015. In 2008, the two banks came together under Gail’s leadership in what was then, the largest in-market merger in Australian financial services. In 2010, Kelly was named the 8th most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.
In 2018, Shemara Wikramanayake was appointed CEO of Macquarie Group, the world’s largest infrastructure asset manager. Over her years at Macquarie, Wikramanayake has established infrastructure funds in North America, led the asset management branch and chair the group’s philanthropy foundation. In 2020, she was named the 9th most powerful woman in the world by Fortune.
There’s no denying the influence of billionaire mining magnate Gina Rinehart. She is Australia’s biggest land holder and executive chair of Hancock Prospecting. She is the richest individual in Australia, with an estimated net worth of $36.38bn.
Melanie Perkins is the young Australian tech entrepreneur who is the co-founder and CEO of Canva, an online design platform that is competing with the biggest tech companies internationally. In her early 30s, Perkins is an alum of the Forbes “30 under 30” list, and is one of the most successful tech entrepreneurs in the world. As of 2021, she is the second richest woman in Australia.
If anyone from the AFR wants to give us a call, we’ll gladly throw an even greater list their way.