More 'Andrews' than female CEOs leading Australia's top companies

More ‘Andrews’ than female CEOs leading Australia’s top companies

There’s always one stat when it comes to women in leadership that gets people talking: that is the number of ‘Peters’ and ‘Johns’ and ‘Davids’ in the CEO and chair positions of ASX 200 companies, compared to the number of women.

It’s a stat first uncovered by Conrad Liveris (pictured above) a number of years ago, that has been parroted continually by business leaders, politicians and others at events and in the media.

Today, Conrad has released his annual Gender Equality at Work report, examining gender differences in leadership at the top as well as pay gaps, the link between gender diversity and company performance, and the prevalence of sexual harassment at work.

And in 2018, we can say that there’s been a slight shift in the most common first names of CEOs.

Now there are more ‘Andrews’ leading ASX 200 organisations as CEOs, than there are women.

Conrad told me this morning that the increase in Andrews reflects a period of leadership renewal across ASX 200 organisations in the past 12 months. Unfortunately such renewal hasn’t significantly shifted gender diversity at the top.

While 12 women now lead ASX 200 organisations as chief executives, up from 11 this time last year, there are still more men named John and Peter than there are female chairs.

Conrad does note some progress, including that female representation on ASX 200 boards is at its highest ever rate of 26.6%.

He also finds a significant rise in female CFOs (often considered a stepping stone to the CEO position), with the number of companies with female CFOs now standing at 20, up from eight two years ago.

However, women do tend to still run support functions, holding 70% of HR executive roles and 46% of general counsel positions — while men hold 90% of business unit roles. Meanwhile, 41 major companies still have no women in executive management, especially in the resources, agriculture and property sectors.

Conrad’s research also highlights the value female leadership can bring organisations, finding that those companies with female CEO had revenue increases above the market average.

The full report also explores the gender pay gap, sexual harassment in workplaces, women’s education.

He offers a number of key recommendations, including that:

  • Shareholders further investigate the diversity make-up of the companies they invest in and ask more questions about diversity at AGMs
  • Organisations consider a 50/50 gender split target in middle management as a tool for retention
  • Organisations conduct gender pay gap audits, with larger companies releasing their stats publicly, along with plans on how they’ll close it
  • Sexual harassment policies are further reviewed within a framework of risk.

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