Female CEO retention poor: Women falling off the glass cliff

admin | 杭州桑拿
4 Dec 2018

Westpac’s Gail Kelly, one of the few ASX200 chief executives. Photo: Louie Douvis Little progress in gender diversity.
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Westpac’s Gail Kelly, one of the few ASX200 chief executives. Photo: Louie Douvis

Little progress in gender diversity.

Westpac’s Gail Kelly, one of the few ASX200 chief executives. Photo: Louie Douvis

Little progress in gender diversity.

Westpac’s Gail Kelly, one of the few ASX200 chief executives. Photo: Louie Douvis

Little progress in gender diversity.

Female CEOs are breaking through the glass ceiling, but expert says they’re falling off the cliff.

The number of female chief executives in the ASX 200 fell last year, a new report has found, and women are being forced out of the top role more often than men.

In 2013 the number of female CEOs in top 200 companies fell from seven to six, according to research from Strategy&.

The percentage of female chief executives in the ASX200 was just 3 per cent and only one new female CEO was appointed, compared to 45 men in 2013.

Study author and Strategy& partner, Varya Davidson, said most chief executives choose to leave of their own accord or because of mergers and acquisitions, but some, particularly women, are asked by the board to leave.

“Comparing planned versus forced chief executive succession, 38 per cent of women were forced to leave versus 27 per cent of men,” she said.

“This is globally consistent and it’s a worrying trend that women get into office and find it harder to stay than their male colleagues.”

Ms Davidson said “institutionalised” succession planning was needed to help more women become chief executives in the first place.

“We’re not seeing that internal bench strength of females coming through,” she said.

“Fundamentally for chief executive succession… it can’t be an ad hoc activity. If it’s ad hoc, companies can’t develop the capabilities they need for a diverse range of candidates.”

The study found planned chief executive succession was at its highest point in 14 years.

But Korn Ferry Australasia executive chairmen and former Business Council of Australia chief executive, Katie Lahey, said women were still not being given the opportunities to develop the skills to be a chief executive.

“Often women aren’t in the sort of roles where they manage large staff numbers and are responsible for big budgets -skills critical for a chief executive,” she said.

Ms Lahey said women also needed to “lean in”.

“Women won’t put their hand up for a job unless they know they can do it… we’re also more reticent about selling ourselves,” she said.

“Men will sing their own praises and they’re prepared to put their hand up for something and learn new skills on the job.”

Despite corporate management still struggling to achieve gender diversity, progress has been made on public and private boards.

In 2012-13, 47.6 per cent of the 1069 new government board appointments were women and 41.7 per cent of all Australian government board positions were held by females.

Out of the ASX 200, women held 15.8 per cent of board seats in 2013.

Ms Lahey said the long push to have more women on boards was starting to reap results.

“It’s just starting to show change now and it will be the same, if not harder, to get women into chief executive positions,” she said.

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