HESTA calls for more women in S&P/ASX 200 senior executive roles

Superannuation fund HESTA has written to all S&P/ASX 200 companies, calling on them to set specific targets and timeframes to increase the number of women in senior executive positions.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said it was vital companies are transparent about the number and proportion of women in senior leadership roles.

“While a lot of attention has rightly been paid to the number of women on boards, we also need to increase the number of female senior executives to improve decision making and support a healthy pipeline of women qualified to join boards in coming years,” Ms Blakey said.

“Having women in senior leadership flows through to all levels of an organisation, creating a more inclusive work culture and greater career opportunities for women that over the long-term can also increase their retirement savings.”

Over 80% of HESTA’s 820,000 members are women and it advocates for measures which close the superannuation gender gap – women retire with almost half the super of men.

HESTA is also calling on Australia’s top companies to ensure their boards comprise at least 30% women. Ms Blakey said in the letter sent to ASX 200 companies that the fund would vote against the most senior director up for election in companies will all male boards, as recommended by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI). According to the most recent APRA statistics HESTA holds over $18.5 billion in equities, though not all these holdings would be in the ASX 200.

“We see diversity as an accurate indicator of a well-run company more likely to deliver long-term value to shareholders, and, therefore, better long-term returns for our members,” said Ms Blakley.

“Any company not looking closely enough at 50% of the population when identifying its next leaders will not attract the best people, and performance of the organisation will eventually suffer.”

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