‘Wake-up call’ for gender equality at work

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Georgie Moore
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Women account for about six per cent of top bosses across ASX 300 companies in a “wake-up call” for gender equality at work.

Chief Executive Women has found 20 women are leading ASX 300 companies.

Just one of 23 chief executive appointments in 2020/21 were women.

It will take until 2086 for women to account for 40 per cent of line roles in executive leadership based on trends from the past five years.

Chief Executive Women labels the results “a wake-up call to Australia’s business leaders, political leaders and investors” as it adopts a target of at least 40 per cent of leadership roles going to women.

The organisation hasn’t seen the representation of women at the top of ASX 200 and 300 companies move much from around five per cent over the past five years.

“We’ve seen some ups and downs in that period but basically stalling and, in some cases, going backwards,” president Sam Mostyn told ABC radio on Wednesday.

She doesn’t think the COVID-19 pandemic has helped.

“There’s anecdotes around the place that those who appointed the men to the other 22 roles said that women were a bit too risky to appoint during COVID, which I find staggering,” Ms Mostyn said.

“In times of crisis, I suspect, those in charge tend to turn to the people they know best … and that continues to be the men in those echelons.”

Ms Mostyn also wants the legal onus put on employers to prevent workplace sexual harassment, and the introduction of 10 days’ universal family and domestic violence leave.

“We have a duty to provide measures to eliminate all those things that lead to these workplaces being so unsafe,” she said.

“We know that there is such a widespread amount of sexual harassment and victimisation in workplaces that without this, we don’t think much will change.”

While only a small proportion of women were expected to use 10 days’ proposed domestic and family violence leave, Ms Mostyn said writing it into national employment standards would provide certainty.

“The cost here is really just not an issue. It’s the setting a tone that says it shouldn’t be a lottery for any woman or any person who’s suffering from this pernicious issue.”

The study release came a day after a national women’s safety summit, which was held to get input into the next national plan to end violence against women and children.

Women’s Safety Minister Anne Ruston said the summit showed the need for practical action “because lives depend on it”.

“Each and every one of us – politicians, business and community leaders and all Australians – must accept we can do more and promise we will do more.”

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