Unfortunately, despite all the talk of appointing women to senior leadership positions, there’s still little to celebrate when it comes to progress on gender diversity in Australian businesses.
As data released earlier this year showed, 75% of small to medium-sized businesses do not have women in their senior management ranks.
But the real problem is that these same businesses have no intention of appointing a female executive either.
Some of the country’s most powerful businesswomen have been using the data to urge the business community – and the women within it – to get serious about the issue.
As Christine Christian, vice president of Chief Executive Women and the former CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, recently told our sister publication, The Power Index, “We can no longer just wait and hope business will finally get it … It’s time for women to stop acting like victims and to start doing something about this.”
The data, released by D&B in partnership with CEW, was collected over a three-month period from D&B’s Business Expectation Survey of 1200 randomly selected CEOs. It showed that just 22% of businesses have appointed, or are expecting to appoint, at least one woman to a senior management position.
Meanwhile, of the more than 75% that have no women in their management teams, more than 65% were not shortlisting women to fill senior openings.
It’s data like this, rather than data concerning the ASX 200 where some progress has been made, that really brings the problem to attention. As Christian points out, the organisations sampled provide a better representation of the business community given they represent the largest employer by number in Australia.
Have we spent too much time worrying about progress in the ASX 200, and let smaller businesses fall by the wayside when it comes to gender equity in their senior leadership ranks?
Not necessarily. Progress at the top end helps. It shows that even in the largest of organisations, change is possible.