Members of the Business Council of Australia will be at the forefront of boosting the numbers of female CEOs and CFOs in the ASX top 200 under an initiative launched at the BCA’s annual forum meeting in Sydney today.
BCA President Graham Bradley announced the establishment of the ‘C-Suite’ Project, a pilot scheme in which leading CEOs who are BCA members will personally mentor high-achieving women employed by other BCA member companies.
The initiative will identify talented women and open up pathways for them to rise to the top of the corporate ladder. The 12-month pilot, conducted in partnership with the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), provides a model for other businesses to follow.
“There is a lot of attention at the moment on the unacceptably low levels of women on Australian boards, but women are too scarce at all senior levels of Australian business,” Mr Bradley said.
“We need to open up pathways for our best women to take on senior positions and open up a strong pipeline of success all the way to the boardroom,” he said.
“The Business Council of Australia’s current membership of the country’s leading CEOs is 97 per cent male. A simple mark of the success of this project will be seeing more women in the room at BCA forums like this one.”
Currently only 10.7 per cent of senior executive positions are held by women and just 2 per cent of CEO roles. Women chair 2 per cent of ASX 200 companies and hold just 8.3 per cent of board directorships.
National President of AHRI, Peter Wilson, said the institute was delighted to be partnering with the BCA on the ‘C-Suite’ initiative. “This is a project whose time has come and we are excited to be working with trailblazing mentors to facilitate real gender diversity inroads in the senior ranks of Australia’s top companies.”
The BCA’s Chief Executive Katie Lahey and Peter Wilson will have oversight of the pilot project, with operational activities including suitable matching of mentors and mentees to be coordinated by AHRI. High-potential women will be chosen by BCA members from within their companies but will not be mentored by their own CEOs.
Graham Bradley commended BCA members who have already put up their hands to become ‘C-Suite’ mentors. They are:
- Tim Ebbeck, President and CEO of SAP Australia and New Zealand
- Michael Luscombe, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Woolworths Limited
- Robert Milliner, Chief Executive Partner of Mallesons Stephen Jaques
- Catriona Noble, Managing Director and CEO of McDonald’s Australia
- Ralph Norris, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- Paul O’Sullivan, Chief Executive of Optus Pty Ltd
- Jack Percy, Managing Director of Accenture Australia
- Matthew Quinn, Managing Director, Stockland
- Stephen Roberts, Country Officer and CEO of Institutional Clients Group, Citi Australia and New Zealand
- Michael Rose, Chief Executive Partner of Allens Arthur Robinson
- Giam Swiegers, Chief Executive Officer of Deloitte.
CEOs involved in the pilot will each support one senior woman from another BCA member company identified as having the potential to become a CEO or CFO themselves within the next five years.
“The potential of the scheme goes beyond supporting individual women,” said Mr Bradley. “It will also facilitate a valuable exchange of views and ideas between mentors and mentees on barriers to workforce participation and promotion.”
“This problem is not unique to Australia but our generation of corporate leaders must make changes to bring our companies in line with community reality and expectations.”