No Female COO s in Australia?

Published: 02/07/2020

Gender equity insights 2020

Research released last week by the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre (BCEC) and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency found that an increase in the share of female ‘top-tier’ managers by 10% points or more led to a 6.6% increase in the market value of Australian ASX-listed companies, worth the equivalent of AUD$104.7 million. Despite this celebration-worthy increase, women remain under-represented in top company positions. They are still likely to be the Chair of the Board, a position, that can often hold as much accountability and influence as the CEO. The percentages for this position had changed very little over the last six years (+2.2ppt). 

The report found that in Australian ASX-listed companies having a female CEO led to a 5% increase in their market value. That is equivalent of ca. AUD$79.6 million.

More women in leadership positions result in companies outperforming in their sector on 3+ key profitability and performance metrics: return on equity, earnings before interest and tax, sales per worker, return on assets, dividend yield and Tobin’s Q.

However, if we understand the new report published in July by Richard Fortune of AltoPartners correctly – “Resources Leadership 2020: Executive remuneration benchmarks and key insights for ASX listed mining, oil and gas companies” – there are no female COOs or Head of Operations working at listed mining companies in Australia. Low yes but 0%?

There are 3% female CEOs, 4% female Non-Executive Chairs, 2% women in the most senior commercial role, and 2% in the most senior project role. The saving grace is 8% of women in the most senior technical roles, such as Heads of Geology and Exploration, Mining Engineering, Metallurgy, Study Managers, Engineering and Technical Directors. As expected majority of women in the executive leadership team are mostly found in legal (43%) and finance 11%. Although the human resources departments weren’t featured, it will be a high proportion of this percentage.

Aggregated data used for the report includes all mineral producers, developers and explorers listed on the ASX as of 31 March 2020.

Across most management tiers, there has been notable progress of female representation over the last six years, with an increase of 1-2 percentage points per year. But comparing this increase to the much slower rate of change at the CEO and Board Chair level, one can see that something of a ‘glass ceiling’ remains for women seeking to work in corporate leadership.

This crucial new data gives evidence to the business case. While other studies have concluded that causality is likely, the data provided by the WGEA allowed establishing direct proof of the link.

Link to the report of BCEC-WGEA –