Despite the talk, the glass ceiling for women proves tough to crack
6 October 2010

Australia’s dismal record of promoting women into the top corporate jobs continues with the latest research showing little or no improvement over the last eight years.

Out of the CEOs of the top 200 Australian companies, just six are women. There are only five women chairing top 200 companies.

Only 8.4 per cent of board positions and 8 per cent of Executive Key Management positions are held by women.

Worse, of the key line roles, considered the immediate stepping-stone to executive leadership, just 4.1 per cent are women and there has been no improvement in these figures since 2008.

“Frankly these figures are pathetic and we must do better. As it stands, Australia is simply wasting some of its best resources - talented women,” said the CEO of Diversity Council Australia (DCA), Nareen Young.

Commenting on the 2010 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, conducted by Macquarie University and released by the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency (EOWA) today, Ms Young said Australia could not afford to continue to waste female talent.

“What is the point of educating the 55 per cent of women who make up university graduates if they continue to be denied the top jobs?” Ms Young said.

Australia now ranks below New Zealand, UK, Canada, US and South Africa in having women in the most senior positions.

Ms Young said it was extremely disappointing that, after years of research showing that female executives performed at least as well as men, they were still required to work longer hours for the same pay and in the end were being denied the very top leadership positions.

Australia is simply squandering its effort in educating women to high standards and then refusing them access to the top of the career path.

“Everyone; educators, parents, politicians and corporate leaders ought to be very concerned at the sorry state of affairs that Australia presents to the world in female corporate leadership. If we want to maintain a competitive edge, then we must use the best talent available and, quite simply, we are not doing it,“ Ms Young said.

Ms Young applauded the recent ASX Council guidelines that listed companies report on their gender diversity strategies and female representation.

“But reporting is only the first step. Companies need to stop talking and start taking real action. And that action should not just be limited to listed companies,“ Ms Young said.

DCA congratulated DCA member, Tabcorp, on being recognised as a top performer in promoting women (alongside Pacific Brands and Spotless Group) and suggested that others should be following their lead.

For more information on the 2010 EOWA Census, visit: www.eowa.gov.au.

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