An Australian impact investment manager has welcomed calls for gender targets to increase the number of women in executive leadership roles.
New data released this week by Chief Executive Women (CEW) found that just 6 per cent of Australia’s top 300 listed companies have females.
CEW’s research also found that the representation of women at senior executive levels has made almost no progress in the last five years.
Melior Investment Management’s head of advocacy strategy, Julia Bailey, applauded CEW’s recommendation for gender targets to be put in place.
“It’s clear from the latest CEW Census that many public companies are not doing enough to achieve gender equality,” Ms Bailey said.
“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.”
Melior has reported that only around 29 per cent of ASX 300 companies have gender targets in place compared to 50 per cent of ASX 100 companies.
Melior chief executive, Lucy Steed, added that Australia could fall behind international markets if it does not move on gender equality.
“Australian companies need to act now on gender diversity as investors globally are increasingly placing greater emphasis on balanced executive leadership as a core investment criterion,” Ms Steed said.
In July, Aware Super CIO Damian Graham said during a House economics committee that it is “really difficult” to achieve gender diversity in the investment market, despite the fund boasting 40 per cent females in its investment team.
“Investing’s a really tough area… it’s one that we’ve really struggled to get really great gender diversity and broader diversity is potentially a little bit better but I do think that gender balance is really difficult in investment market,” Mr Graham said.
“We monitor that, we think about the strategies we need to put in place and develop to really drive a flexibility that supports people to come back to work and really provide that development pathways to ensure that we can attract young females, and also broader backgrounds, but particularly on the gender issue, young females to stay with us for their career and to also have great development opportunities…”
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