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CEOs and Gender Diversity

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  • 13 June
  • by Tim Keith
  • Accountability

Change Is Reliant On The CEO

Most CEOs are men. (95% of ASX200 CEOs are male*)

CEOs, along with the board, set strategy and investment priorities. (75% of ASX200 board members are male*)

Any diversity & inclusion strategy is doomed without CEO support.

This support needs to be clear, visible and tangible. Congruence is critical for CEOs on matters relating to their employees. Employees need to see to believe.

CEO Actions That Work

We’ve researched the actions of CEOs that lead effectively on diversity and have made an impact on the outcomes for women (and other underrepresented employees) in their business. The key indicators of success for CEOs are:

  1. Executive team is diverse, at least 60/40 gender ratio
  2. Appoint an executive responsible for diversity & inclusion as a direct report
  3. Use published diversity targets along with transparent diversity statistics that are updated at least once a year
  4. Have completed a transparent pay audit and taken action to close any pay gap
  5. Sets targets for leaders to improve the diversity of their teams

Good Intent Is Not Enough

At Balance Now we’ve watched lots of well intentioned CEOs (and boards) sign up to great initiatives or public statements on gender diversity. Think Male Champions of Change, HeForShe, WGEA Citations, AICD 30% Club & Chief Executive Women. Yet some of these CEOs have mixed results on gender diversity and workplace inclusion. Good intent and verbal or written support is simply not enough. Like any dedicated business strategy, diversity & inclusion needs leadership, investment, targets, ongoing review and executive support. Those that can show they have taken at least 3 of the 5 actions listed above will have made genuine progress.

Balance Now was delighted to see over 175 US Corporations sign up to real action and a community of change via This sort of public commitment only reinforces the desire for change within organisations. US statistics on diversity & inclusion are less successful than those in Australia. Initiatives like this are valuable but will they really change the game?

We congratulate all those CEOs who take a public stand.  Many are making positive progress and the organisations they lead are considerably further in front of the thousands of companies who have not even considered unlocking the value of a diverse workforce.

Great Leaders

We’d like acknowledge two CEOs that we believe show outstanding leadership on diversity & inclusion at local and a global level:

  • Tracey Fellows – CEO REA Group, 45% female executives, 45% female board members, share price has risen 500% in 5 years
  • Paul Pohlman – CEO Unilever, 46% female managers, 29% female executives, 45% female board members, share price has risen 200% in 5 years

Great brands, inspired leadership, commitment to change.

CEO Accountability

The Balance Now approach to creating sustainable change on workplace diversity works across the entire system, and does not rely solely on individual initiatives. Improvements in the system mean better outcomes for both women and men. We applaud real action and accountability from the CEO. Our recommendation is for CEO commitment with tangible, measurable targets and actions. Read more in our recently published guide to target setting 2 Questions You Need to Ask Your CEO.

At Balance Now we work with CEOs to adopt real change across the organisation, using initiatives we know work.

Please contact us to talk about our CEO Diversity Program.

* Source: AICD

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