Australia is yet to see a tangible change in relation to the representation of women in senior roles, according to a report released by Ernst & Young,


The Women in Leadership – what will it take to get Australia on target? report investigated what needs to occur to change female representation in the highest levels of business leadership and found Australia has slipped from 15th on the Global Gender Equity Index in 2006 to 23rd in 2010.


Australia ranked fifty-ninth for wage equality for similar work while New Zealand came in fifth, up from their seventh position in 2006.


While ASX 200 boards achieved 12.7% female representation in the past year, research indicates that women must make up at least three positions on a board before gender diversity has a greater impact on financial performance.


In ASX 200 companies, women hold only 8% of executive roles and just 4.1% of line management roles, compared with 24.1% of support roles, which are recruited for top executive jobs and board roles. Similarly, in the ASX 201-300, women occupy only 6% of board seats.


Ernst & Young People and Organisation Leader Amy Poynton says to keep women in the workforce, we need to:

  • De-gender parental care.
  • Create engaging and challenging career options for women.
  • Create true part time and flexible work options.
  • Re-look at the economics of child care.
  • Re-look at how contribution is valued and rewarded in the work place, especially for those on flexible work arrangements.
  • Tackling the uncomfortable issue of quotas.


“Once we have a level playing field, Australia can capitalise on the subsequent advantages of improved innovation, business performance and productivity,” said Ms Poynton.


The report can be found here