Gender balance in vogue, quotas not a bad idea, promotion still tough for women: Survey

More than two thirds (64%) of Australians believe women face a tougher time than men when it comes to chasing leadership promotions, according to the latest Randstad Workmonitor Report.

The research finds that Australian organisations are trailing much of the world on the number of women in leadership positions, and employees still believe women face plenty of challenges ahead.

That’s despite 89% of the 400 Australian employees surveyed declaring they believe in balanced leadership teams, and 55% declaring quotas could be an “effective tool” for propelling women into leadership.

The quarterly survey of 13,000 employees across 32 countries – done via an online questionnaire of employees working a minimum of 24 hours a week – compares Australia’s diversity in leadership to its neighbours, and finds that we’re falling behind.

Just 38% of Australian employees reported that women make up at least half of leadership positions at their current employer. While that may seem like a more positive result than what we hear about the proportion of women making up director and c-suite positions on the ASX 500 (less than 10%), it’s behind what surveyed employees are reporting from our Asian neighbours including India (where 63% said women make up half of leadership positions), Hong Kong (54%) and China (48%).

However, the good majority (73%) of Australian companies are active in encouraging female employees to pursue leadership positions, according to the research. This puts us well ahead of the global average, with just 57% of employees surveyed reporting their current employer encourages women to pursue promotion opportunities.

Randstad Managing Director Asia Pacific of recruitment & HR services specialists Deb Loveridge says it’s vital Australia doesn’t fall behind when it comes to gender balanced leadership teams.

“To remain competitive locally and internationally, employers can’t afford top talent to look elsewhere for career opportunities,” she said. “With Australia’s nearest neighbours starting to increase their focus on balanced leadership, and local organisations stepping up their strategies to gain a competitive edge, business leaders have to ensure there are legitimate career paths for both men and women.”

She said the key is to promote the best person for the job – which will ultimately see the balance even out and tells employees they will be rewarded based on performance.

Other findings from the 400 Australian employees surveyed:

  • 57% believe part-time work hinders career progression (compared to 54% of those surveyed globally).
  • 68% are confident of being able to secure a comparable job in the next six months – down five percentage points from this time last year.
  • 70% are satisfied in their current positions.
  • 56% are either very or somewhat focused on achieving a promotion.
  • 57% have an urge to do something completely different to what they’re doing now.


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