Women in leadership positions improve business outcomes

New research by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA) and Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) offers definitive proof that gender equity drives better performance, greater productivity and greater profitability. 

Report author and BCEC Principal Research Fellow Associate Professor Rebecca Cassells said leadership has never been so important, especially when the world is dealing with the fallout and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“When businesses are looking to a post COVID-19 world, our research shows that having a female CEO has the potential to help companies navigate through the crisis,” Associate Professor Cassells said. 

The report found that increasing the number of women in leadership positions increases an organisation’s likelihood of outperforming in their sector on three or more key profitability and performance metrics and that having a female CEO leads to a five per cent increase in their market value. On average, this is worth the equivalent of AUD$79.6 million. 

Libby Lyons, Director of the Workplace Gender Equality Agency, said the report is a significant contribution to the business case for gender equality. 

“Workplace gender equality is not just about fairness, it also has a compelling commercial imperative. This research provides hard evidence that more women in top-tier management levels will deliver improved profitability for business. Now more than ever, achieving workplace gender equality is an absolute necessity for every organisation in Australia.” 

With almost 30% of organisations having no female representation on their board and a similar proportion of companies having no women in their key management teams, this report calls for organisations to achieve a better gender balance in leadership roles, or be left behind. 

Report co-author and BCEC Director Professor Alan Duncan said the report’s findings show that Australian companies still have some way to go to achieve a better gender balance in key decision-making roles. 

“Women are far less likely than men to be the Chair of the Board. While there has been progress towards a 30 per cent target for the share of women on company Boards, three in 10 companies in the WGEA dataset still have no female Board representation at all,” Professor Duncan said. 

The BCEC WGEA Gender Equity Insights 2020 report provides analysis of the 2018-19 WGEA Gender Equality dataset, based on 4,841 reports submitted in accordance with the Act for reporting period 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019. The dataset captures 4.3 million employees – which accounts for more than 40 per cent of all employees in Australia.