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Diversity – What’s in it for you?

In mid June, Foley Durham Partner Richard Elstone and 2018 AFR Top 100 Influencer Michelle Redfern co-hosted an intimate boardroom lunch with key business leaders discussing the very thought-provoking topic of “How can we tap into men’s progressive attitudes to change the gender diversity scorecard and level the leadership playing field in Australia?”

Michelle pointed out that only 14% of Australian companies are chaired by women, 17% of Australian companies have a female CEO and nearly three-quarters of reporting organisations have a male-only team of key management personnel.

In Australia today, there is still a 21.5% gender pay gap.


Australia’s Scorecard on Advancing Women:

  • Statistics on leadership gender composition – Chairs, Directors, CEOs, Executives;

  • 86% of Australian companies are chaired by men.

  • 83% of Australian companies have a male CEO.

  • Nearly three-quarters of reporting organisations have a male-only team of key management personnel.

  • Australia has had only one female prime minister

  • and 66.5%% of the federal lower house MPs are male with 59% of Senators in the upper house male. (was 60% and 70% in the 45th Parliament)

  • There is a 21.5% total gender pay gap;

  • Based on total remuneration of full-time employees, which includes full-time base salary plus any additional benefits payable directly or indirectly, whether in cash or in a form other than cash. Includes: bonus payments (including performance pay), superannuation, discretionary pay, overtime, other allowances and other benefits (for example share allocations).

  • There is a 14.1% gender pay gap:

  • excludes factors such as overtime, pay that is salary sacrificed and junior and part-time employees.

  • Australia has a highly gender segregated workforce with:

  • Women concentrated in health care and social assistance professions, representing 80 per cent of the workforce and 70 per cent of management roles;

  • Men dominate construction (83.1%), manufacturing (73.6%), mining (83.9%) and transport (73.6%).

  • The gender segregation continues in employment status with:

  • Full time workers Men = 67.9% Women = 40.2%

  • Part-Time workers Men = 10.7% Women 32.9%

The Business Case: There is little doubt that the business case for gender diversity stacks up. Organisations that have gender balance on their board & executive teams are:

  • 21% more likely to financially outperform industry sector competitors;

  • 27% more likely than industry sector competitors to create long-term value;

  • 22% gains on Earnings Per Share

  • 34% higher Total Shareholder Return

AND Investors and Procurement AND Sponsors are increasingly seeking visibility of diversity performance;

Men’s Attitudes: Advancing Women research (2019) shows that:

  • 63.1% of men believe gender inequality exists

  • 59.5% of men agree that gender inequality is a problem

  • 51.3% of men believe their organisation should implement a gender inequality change program

  • 29.1% of men believe women have fewer opportunities to be promoted than men

  • 78.8% of men believe workplace gender diversity initiatives are a good thing

  • 29.4% of men believe they are or will be disadvantaged due to gender diversity initiatives

  • 86.9% of men agree that they have a role to play in achieving gender equality

There are three distinct voices - traditionalist, moderate and progressive - who hold views about the role of women in society.

  • The Traditional view revolves around negative perceptions of women in leadership, with a traditional view of women in the workplace and home.

  • The Moderate view combines an egalitarian set of views and values around gender equality with increasing concern for what is believed to be the growing importance of “political correctness”. This view is often intertwined with a desire for greater focus on men’s, as well as women’s, rights, as well as freedom of speech and more inclusive conversations around gender equality.

  • The Progressive view emphasises the need for concerted policy action to address gender inequality in society.

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