Women in Leadership

The importance of having women in key decision making roles

Compared to many counties, Australia ranks high in gender equality. But all the progress made regarding this falls short when we look at the representation of women in leadership positions all over the country. Whether we are talking about executive positions or elective offices, the bias against women occupying decision-making positions remains very strong.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, in 2018-2019, over half of the private sector workplace at 50.2% were women. When it came to the top position, the level of representation changed with women accounting for 14.1 per cent of board chairs, 17.1 per cent of CEOS, 26.8 per cent of directors, and 31.5 per cent of key management positions. The failure to include more women in leadership roles is inimical on many levels. According to the Gender Equity Series by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and Workplace Gender Equality Agency, the representation of women in senior leadership positions will increase the productivity and profitability of the business while also reducing the wage gap. This research showed in 2017 and 2016 that as more women reached executive leadership positions in organisations, the gender pay gaps in such organisation reduced;
• There was a 6.3%-point reduction in full-time managers’ gender pay gaps when women are equally represented on the governing board.
• The pay gap for organisations that have a balanced representation of females in executive leadership positions is half that of those with least representation.

In 2018 and 2019, the reports further showed the role leadership plays in driving change within organisations to achieve gender equality. The 2019 report discovered that;
• The rate of progress of women to management roles is now faster than men, and at this rate, there will be equality in representation in management roles within two decades.
• However, it will take about 80 years for there to be equality in gender representation at the CEO level.
The 2020 report of the series further shows that having more women in decision making and management positions lead to greater profitability, greater productivity, and better performance for the organisation. Increased representation of women in leadership roles added around $52 million to $70 million to an organisation of average size. These findings further prove the need to have more women in leadership positions. This is further informed by a study looking at impacts of women in leadership positions titled, Women in Leadership: Lessons from Australian companies leading the way. The study was conducted by McKinsey & Company, the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, and the Business Council of Australia. It made use of WGEA data as well as over 40 interviews to present the evidence that shows the need for more women in leadership as well the right way to get it done. It designed a 10-step recipe for bringing more women into leadership.

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