Female CEOs won’t achieve equal representation until 2100

While the report forecast it would take just two decades for women to achieve equal representation in full-time management roles, female executives would have to wait until 2047 and chief executives until 2100.

BCEC principal research fellow Rebecca Cassells said women’s representation in management was now “very close” to matching their share in the broader full-time work force.

But she said the number of female CEOs was “increasing far too slowly”.

“Women in top-tier leadership positions are taking home smaller pay packets compared to their male counterparts.

“Simply breaking through the glass ceiling doesn’t provide women with the same wage opportunities.”

Genworth CEO says reconsider targets

Pay growth has generally doubled for women in executive and senior and middle management roles over the past five years.

But the top 10 per cent of male earners still take home a minimum salary of $600,000 compared to $436,000 for the top 10 per cent of women.

The report found gender pay gaps at the management level may act as a disincentive for women, with significant gender pay gaps corresponding to an average 10 per cent drop in the share of female managers.

Genworth chief executive Georgette Nicholas, whose $850,000 salary plus bonuses and incentives makes her one of the highest paid female CEOs, said more needed to be done.

She said boards needed to adopt a more balanced approach when measuring success and setting compensation, including remuneration targets.

“Are we willing to think about those targets differently? Men and women can approach things very differently and still be effective in each way … It’s about how we appreciate those values and how we reward them.”

Ms Nicholas said flexibility was also key in getting more women in senior positions, not just for parenting but also caregiving responsibilities which could affect generally older CEOs.

She said she had to navigate her career while also caring for her late husband who was ill with cancer for five years.

“I’m lucky because Genworth was very flexible and supportive in allowing me to manage my schedule around doctor appointments and days at home so I could continue to do both.

“But it took people being willing to adjust what might be the norm and think outside the box.”

The Bankwest report found employers offering 13 weeks or more paid parental leave halved the share of women who quit while on leave.

‘Harder nudge needed’

Ms Cassell said boards needed to reconsider the senior executive level as the traditional pipeline for CEOs as it was still dominated by men.

“I think boards need to start thinking about this very seriously when they’re meeting and recruiting.

“You need a harder nudge rather than this slow, incremental approach of ‘let’s wait until the pipeline fixes itself’, because I think there’s something more at work here.”

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