Australia is in danger of falling behind overseas markets if it does not improve its gender equality in executive leadership roles given investors are placing greater emphasis on it as investment criterion, according to Melior Investment Management.
Melior said it welcomed calls for gender targets to increase the number of women in executive leadership roles at Australia’s top 300 listed companies.
Merlior chief executive, Lucy Steed, said: “Australian companies need to act now on gender diversity as investors globally are increasingly placing greater emphasis on balanced executive leadership as a core investment criterion.
Melior pointed to Chief Executive Women (CEW) data which showed just 6% of ASX300 companies had female CEOs.
The data also showed representation of women at senior executive levels had made virtually no progress in five years.
According to the data, only one out of 23 CEO appointments in the ASX300 was a woman.
The data also found most CEOs in 2021 were appointed from line roles with profit and loss accountability and only 14% of those roles in the ASX300 were made up of women.
The findings prompted a recommendation from CEW that targets were the best way to accelerate greater gender diversity in senior executive ranks at Australia’s biggest companies.
Melior’s head of advocacy strategy, Julia Bailey, said targets provide companies with a positive framework to improve gender balance and create better outcomes for staff.
“From an investment perspective, we certainly look to gender balance as a key indicator of the potential for superior returns,” said Bailey.