Women aren’t getting a fair crack at leadership in SMEs

15 May

The glass ceiling remains well and truly intact within the Australian SME sector, with limited opportunities for women to have a crack at leadership.

So says a report from Australian businesswomen’s organisation Chief Executive Women (CEW) carried out in conjunction with Dun & Bradstreet. Its conclusion from surveying 1200 Australian CEOs was that 75% of SMEs had no women in their senior management teams – and had no intention of appointing any women, either.

More than 65% of SMEs were not requiring women to be on the shortlist for leadership roles – even though many major firms have committed to achieving 40% female representation at senior management level over the next year. Australia is lagging behind other countries in terms of gender equality, and there have been calls to improve targets.

Non-executive director and former CEO of Dun & Bradstreet, Christine Christian, said the survey results revealed the size of the challenge. “Just 22% of businesses have appointed, or intend to appoint, at least one woman to a senior management position. SMEs represent the largest employer by number in Australia, so it is critical that we support them to improve the levels of gender diversity in senior management and the productivity benefits that flow from that,” she said.


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