Financials noted for CEO gender balance

While financials have the third-highest proportion of female chief executives, this number is still only 11%.

According to Chief Executive Women’s (CEW's) census report of ASX 300 companies, financials came in third behind communication services (21%) and healthcare (12%).

These included Shemara Wikramanayake of Macquarie and Marnie Baker of Bendigo and Adelaide Bank.

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The average percentage of women on financials’ executive leadership teams was over a quarter (27%) and it had an average of 17% women in line roles with profit and loss responsibilities such as group executive and chief operating officer, up from 12% in 2020.

The highest proportion of women were found in HR functional roles, 87% in the ASX 100, followed by corporate affairs. There were no women at all working in functional roles in risk and compliance at ASX 100 firms, although this rose to 30% for ASX 200 businesses.

In total across the ASX 300, there were 18 female chief executives and 52 chief financial officers. Only one female CEO had been appointed in 2020/21.

However, over half of ASX 300 companies had met the 30% industry target for female board representation, CEW said.

Last month, it was announced there were no longer any ASX 200 companies with all-male boards after gold miner Chalice Mining appointed a female non-executive director.

The association stressed the importance of the ‘pipeline’, highlighting that many senior roles held by women did not tend to lead to being appointed as CEO in the future.

“Most concerning is the low representation of women in the pipeline for CEO roles which highlights that this status will only substantively shift when the pipeline is strengthened,” it said.

“The current pipeline of women in line and CFO roles is small with 16% of these CEO feeder roles being held by women.

“In the past year only one of the 23 CEOs appointed was a woman. Given the pipeline, three to four women CEOs could have been appointed.”

CEW suggested companies could focus on building a pipeline of female leaders, make gender equality a visible leadership commitment, share gender targets and updates on achievements and define precise targets for leadership roles.

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