Medium-sized companies are better at giving senior roles to women than big business, according to research published today by KPMG for the Australian Securities Exchange.
Released for International Women’s Day, the report shows that in ASX 200 companies the average percentage of women in senior executive positions is 20%.
In comparison, 34% of senior roles in the mid-sized company sphere, the top 200 to 500 range, are held by women.
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The number of women in the top jobs slipped away again for companies in the ASX 500+, with only 15% of the senior positions held by women, but diversity strategy and compliance consultant Prue Gilbert told SmartCompany anecdotally SMEs offer more flexibility to women.
“Small to medium businesses have less policies and procedures that people have to jump through to get noticed and probably a willingness to be flexible and to accommodate women’s needs,” Gilbert says.
“They actually value the contributions they are making; they acknowledge that women and men have different career cycles.”
Gilbert says more needs to be done to enable women to remain in the workforce.
“Businesses need to better recognise and value the social contribution of primary carers and invest in the retention of women in their child-rearing years,” she says.
Wendy Simpson, chairwoman of Springboard Enterprises, a not-for-profit program to start women in business, told SmartCompany there is a growing trend of more women starting businesses, which meant more women were leading SMEs.
That’s a trend that is evident in SmartCompany‘s list of Australia’s top 30 female entrepreneurs, published today.
“When we are talking about the SME segment we are often talking about women-led businesses, so that sets the tone and atmosphere in the business,” Simpson says.
“That trend is going to continue as more programs like Springboard actively accelerate women to have significant multimillion dollar businesses and we will see even more of a shift.”
She says women come with a “whole new attitude” as to how business should be run and the shift to more women-run businesses was a great trend that would continue.
“Women should not be scared to skill themselves up to understand how to grow their businesses from micro-businesses to significant SMEs as that will generate more wealth for them,” she says.
“It also means they get to use their god-given leadership talent in a broader sphere and have this enormous social impact.”