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Women Still Struggling to Smash the Glass Ceiling


Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions in the property industry, despite concerted efforts to smash the glass ceiling in the sector.

This International Women's Day The Urban Developer runs the rule over ASX200 listed organisations from the property sector for female inclusion in executive teams.

In 2020 just 5 per cent of companies on the ASX200 had a female chief executive, despite a recent study by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency finding appointing a female chief executive increased an organisation’s market value 5 per cent.

Women make up less than 20 per cent of chief executives nationally.

▲ Just one female CEO appointed in 2020, making up 4 per cent of appointments. Image: Chief Executive Women
▲ Just one female CEO appointed in 2020, making up 4 per cent of appointments. Image: Chief Executive Women


Dexus executive general manager for funds management Deborah Coakley said the industry had been working to build a talent pipeline of future female leaders over the past 10 years.

“The impacts to the culture of the industry as more females enter across various levels are obvious, but we still have more work to do to ensure women thrive equally in our industry,” Coakley said.

“There’s no single initiative that will shift the dial on gender equality … it starts with the leadership shadow. The impact of female leaders visibly stepping up to the challenge of gender equality and holding themselves and their teams to account for delivering inclusive workplace cultures is crucial.”

Coakley said while broadly speaking 2020 had been a challenging year for women in the workforce she hoped that long-term changes to more flexible working options would pay dividends.

According to the Chief Executive Women’s report on female representation in the ASX200 just one out of 25 chief executive appointments last year was a woman (4 per cent). About 65 per cent of companies on the ASX200 have no women in executive leadership line roles, that feed into chief executive positions.

Women in executive leadership on ASX200

CompanyPercentage of women in ELT
REA Group50
Stockland50
Dexus25
Lendlease25
Charter Hall Group25
Mirvac22
Centuria Industrial REIT20
Scentre Group18
Fletcher Building Ltd17
Cromwell Property Group13
Goodman Group5

^Source: Chief Executive Women's report on female representation in the ASX200 showing percentage of women in the executive leadership teams of property sector organisations.

Roberts Co chief executive Alison Mirams is passionate about building a better industry and heads up the two-thirds female executive team.

Mirams said she believed it was important for women to be at the table because they brought a unique perspective.

“I am trying to make the industry a better place,” Mirams said.

“A lot of people say you need to fix the industry for women. You don’t need to fix it for women, you need to fix it for men and the women will benefit. You need to fix it for everyone.”

Griffith University Business School’s Associate Professor Sacha Reid said it was when women got to middle management that they were likely to leave the industry due to a lack of career progression to key chief executive feeder roles.

▲ Chief Executive Women's ASX200
Senior Executive Census 2020 found 65 per cent of ASX200 companies had no women in executive leadership team positions. Image: Chief Executive Women
▲ 65 per cent of ASX200 companies had no women in executive leadership team positions. Image: Chief Executive Women


“It’s been a very male dominated industry. I think we need more male champions of change, which has been good for the industry, and more women supporting other women. When you’re down in the trenches you need more than one or two women to look up to.”

In Randstad’s Women in Construction report one-third of women surveyed said there were not enough opportunities for career development in the industry. Nearly four in ten (39%) believed that a lack of female role models in senior positions was a key barrier to progression.

According to The Economist’s glass ceiling index Australia is sitting slightly above the OECD average, ranked 16th in the world for conditions for working women.

The highest ranking country was Sweden where paid parental leave was offered for both parents.

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Article originally posted at: https://www.theurbandeveloper.com/articles/women-ceo-property