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ASX gender targets 65 years away: CEW

The ASX 300 needs to improve targets on female representation as the current rate of progress will see it take 65 years for women to make up 40% of line roles in executive leadership teams, data from Chief Executive Women (CEW) shows.

The 2021 CEW Senior Executive Census recorded just one woman out of 23 chief executive appointments in the ASX 300 in the 2021 reporting period and only 18 women hold the position of chief executive.

Most chief executives were appointed from line roles with profit and loss accountability and women made up just 14% of those line management roles across the ASX 300.

In the ASX 200, the percentage of women chief executives has remained unchanged at 5% since the Census started in 2017.

Women make up a quarter (26%) of roles on executive leadership teams in the ASX 200. This statistic has remained flat since 2019 (25%).

The proportion of companies that have set targets of at least 40% of each gender in senior roles is significantly higher in the ASX100 (50%), compared to the ASX300 (29%).

"These results are a wake-up call to Australia's business leaders, political leaders and investors - now is the time for action," CEW president Sam Mostyn said.

"Setting gender balance targets for executive leadership teams, with a specific focus on roles with profit and loss responsibilities together with a commitment to developing the pipeline for those roles, will ensure women are represented at critical decision-making tables."

The CEW Census is backed by Bain & Company, HESTA, 40:40 Vision, Melior Investment Management and Spencer Stuart.

Melior head of advocacy strategy Julia Bailey said public companies are not doing enough to achieve gender equality.

"Targets provide companies with a positive framework to improve gender balance and, in doing so, create better outcomes for employees and shareholders. From an investment perspective, we certainly look to gender balance as a key indicator of the potential for superior returns," Bailey said.

Read more: ASXChief Executive WomenCEW Senior Executive CensusJulia BaileyMelior Investment ManagementSam Mostyn