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Big super targets ASX 200 over gender parity

By Lachlan Maddock
2 minute read

HESTA has launched an “ambitious” investor-led initiative that aims to see women fill at least 40 per cent of executive roles in the ASX 200 by 2030.

Investors are growing increasingly concerned at the slow progress towards greater gender balance among the leadership of the major listed companies, according to HESTA CEO Debby Blakey. 

“It’s concerning progress has been so slow, and at this rate it will be another 80 years before we see equal representation of men and women at CEO level – and similarly in executive leadership – unless action is taken now,” said Ms Blakey said. 

“We see lack of gender diversity in leadership as a financial risk – companies that fail to consider 50 per cent of the population for leadership positions risk missing out on the best people and the performance of the organisation will eventually suffer.”

HESTA’s 40:40 Vision investor statement was launched with eight inaugural signatories representing over $1 trillion in assets under management: Aberdeen Standard Investments, BlackRock Australia, Ellerston Capital, Fidelity International, First Sentier Investors, IFM Investors, Pendal Group and WaveStone Capital. 

Investors joining the initiative will commit to engaging with ASX 200 companies to encourage them to sign up to 40:40 Vision and pledge to achieve 40 per cent women, 40 per cent men and 20 per cent any gender among C-suite roles by 2030 and to set clear and public targets towards this goal.

“We want to see real, genuine change – not just additional layers of needless reporting and governance that invariably becomes a tick-the-box exercise,” Ms Blakey said.

“As a significant investor, we cannot simply diversify away from risks stemming from social inequality. Investors have real power to engage with ASX 200 companies on the gender diversity of their executive teams and influence change.”

The 40:40 Vision campaign also has the support of industry partners Chief Executive Women, the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, 30% Club and the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.