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We’re a long way off parity in executive leadership teams, CEW census

Posted on Sep 11, 2017

A census of ASX200 executive leadership teams conducted in August 2017 by Chief Executive Women revealed that men hold 79% of roles in the ASX200 executive leadership teams, 41 companies in the ASX200 have no women in their executive leadership team, and 126 companies in the ASX200 have no women in line roles in their executive leadership team.
“The analysis of the composition of Executive Leadership teams is an important measure of the progress of women to the most senior ranks in corporate Australia. The Senior Executive Census provides visibility of gender representation in the executive leadership teams of Australia’s largest publicly listed companies, and creates a baseline to assess future progress,” says CEW President Kathryn Fagg.

Improvement since 2008

While women remain underrepresented in senior leadership teams in 2017, the Senior Executive Census shows an improvement since 2008, when a similar set of data was collected by EOWA (now WGEA).

“In 2017 there are twice as many women in leadership roles and the number of companies with no women in their leadership has halved,” says Ms Fagg.

In 2008, 46% of companies in the ASX200 had no women in their executive leadership teams. In 2017 this percentage has dropped to 20% and now women hold:

  • 11 CEO positions in ASX200 companies, compared to 4 in 2008
  • 21% (381 out of 1804) of Executive Leadership positions in ASX200, compared to
  • 11% (182 out of 1700) in 2008.

However, given that gender balance is commonly expressed as being 40% of each gender and 20% of either gender, the 2017 Senior Executive Census shows that only 16 ASX200 companies have 40% or more females in their Executive Leadership Team.

Women still missing in ‘line roles’

The Senior Executive Census also measures the number of executive women in ‘line’ roles. Line roles are those that directly drive key commercial outcomes in a business and usually involve profit and loss accountability.

CEW member and Spencer Stuart’s Head of Asia Pacific Financial Services practice, Kerri Burgess says this Senior Executive Census shines a light on the under representation of women in line roles in executive leadership teams.

“Line roles are the traditional pipeline for the future ASX200 CEOs. Improving representationof women in line roles is an important step towards ensuring balanced representation at thehighest level of leadership in Australia’s listed companies,” says Ms Burgess.

“While every company has its own rewards and risks in striving for gender balance, leadership is key. Research and our experience confirm that the Chairman, Board, CEO and leadership team must all be committed to having gender diversity as a key priority, otherwise it is unlikely that progress will be made or benefits realised,” says Ms Fagg.

 The Senior Executive Census was conducted by Chief Executive Women (CEW). For more information go to