Gender Diversity in Business

In truth, the issue of gender diversity is paramount to what Wonderous Women is all about. A world out of balance, is a world in trouble! Men and women are very different beings, not only physically, but also the way our brains work and of course our emotional intelligence.

Our priorities are as different as the ways we approach finding solutions to problems. As our everyday worlds are also completely different, we both have different perspectives and experiences that help us to form our opinions about what is necessary and important. Therefore input from both men and women when making important decisions that may effect a companies directions or choices, is necessary when that company is selling to men and women, or it's products or procedures have direct or indirect effects on both men and women.

The lack of gender diversity can sadly be seen in many, many areas of our world. From the number of men compared to women representing us in Parliament (see blog "Women in Power, April 13, 2017), the number of men to women in positions of CEO's of our biggest companies, or the number of male board members compared to women of our biggest companies. If a board is meant to guide the CEO and the companies direction, then how can this be reflective of a balanced view, when many boards are made up primarily, if not entirely, of men?

In 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) set a target for the end of 2018, of 30% of boards seats to be filled by women. In 2016, they reported that 42% of directors appointed to the boards of Australia's top 200 listed companies, were women, compared to 8% in 2009. They said that research had shown that diverse boards perform better and achieve greater profits as seen by the 1 in 4 Companies that had already met their 30% target in 2016. Companies like Medicare Private, in 2016 had 70% of women board members, while both Woolworths and AMP had 50% men to women on their boards. Mr Brogden of the AICD said "It is pretty extraordinary that there are still large companies which have no women on their boards" stating that such behaviour is verging on the inexplicable and described such companies as old fashioned and out of touch, and risked being left behind.

The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) in 2017, ran a strong campaign attempting to get more women on boards. They advised members to vote against incumbent directors, where there aren't any women on the boards. Hesta, headed by CEO Debby Blakely, a $40 Billion dollar Super Fund, in August 2017 even voted against using companies without women on their boards, such as Australian Agriculture Company, Flight Centre and TPG Telecom (Financial Review, 23/8/2017)

It is hoped that through such inspired action, that more women on more boards will equate to greater support and promotions for women into leadership positions.

However for now, the reality is that in business, (at September 2017), only 12 of Australia's top 200 companies have female CEO's! This flies in the face of females topping HSC exams and making up a huge percentage of the graduates at universities around the country. A study this year by Conrad Liver on "Gender Equality at Work" showed that you are more likely to be named 'Andrew" and be a CEO of a top ASX 200 organisation, than to be a female CEO. This has changed since 2017, when the same was true, but for men named Peter, John or David!

Just as sad a reality, is that 41 major companies still have no women in executive management, especially in the Resources, Agriculture and Property sectors! One glimmer of light is that Conrad did find that the members of females on ASX 200 boards is at it's highest rate at 26.6%. He also found that the number of women as CFO's, a step away from CEO, has risen to 20, up from only 8 in 2016. (Angela Priestley, March 2018, Women's Agenda)

I have always thought that balance is one of the most important things in anyone's life and it seems in terms of gender diversity and equal representation of women to men in roles of leadership, we still have quite a way to go.

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