Australia’s women leaders on what matters in 2022: Chief Executive Women report
Chief Executive Women members are calling for increased focus on women’s economic participation, the care economy and safety at work and home, which were identified as the three most important issues for women in 2022 in the organisations’ Meet the Moment report.
Researched in partnership with Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Meet the Moment surveyed CEW members to capture the perspectives of Australia’s most senior women leaders on what matters in 2022, and the actions industry and government must take to create a vibrant Australian economy.
Almost all respondents (91%) identified women’s economic participation and progression as one of the most important priorities for women in Australia. This was followed by the care economy (70%), safety in workplaces, homes and communities (56%), climate change (50%) and economic growth (50%).
Chief Executive Women President Sam Mostyn AO said that CEW members sit on decision-making tables across the country and bring a unique perspective on the opportunities for women and all in Australia.
“Women were hit first and hardest by the pandemic. A strong recovery and flourishing economy can only be achieved if we put women’s participation and progress at the top of the agenda.
“To realise the potential of women’s economic participation and progress, we must address well understood underlying issues, like investing and redesigning the care economy and ensuring that women feel safe in their workplaces. These are not simply women’s issues, they’re mainstream economic, social and political issues requiring leadership.
“Early in the pandemic Australia made great strides quickly through smart, evidence-based and intentional policymaking, and by working together. Now is the time to support the economic and social participation of women, enabling the economy and community to prosper and grow for all.”
BCG Managing Director and Senior Partner and CEW Member, Anna Green, said one theme is consistent throughout the report – that with greater opportunities for women to participate, lead and prosper in our economy will come changes that benefit all.
“We can use this momentum to act on the issues that are most critical for women in Australia. We know that as a nation we can be decisive and act quickly when we need to. We must have women and diversity generally at Australia’s top decision-making tables. Many of the survey findings echo community sentiment in the past two years, recovery from the pandemic raises the urgency to act.”
Prioritising care and safety
CEW members identified the care economy and safety at home and work as critical opportunities for women in Australia, reflecting the impact of the pandemic on the care industries and the reckoning in Australia on women’s safety over the past twelve months.
Sam Mostyn AO said: “Care has been the backbone of Australia throughout this pandemic. We need to change how we think about what drives our economy. One of the most effective actions is placing care at the centre of the economy and investing in decent wages and secure employment for people in care industries.
“Australia must make homes and workplaces safe. CEW is calling for action to prevent and eradicate sexual harassment in the workplace. Making work safe for all will help remove some of the barriers to women’s workforce participation, while creating lasting cultural change for Australia.”
Climate change at the top of the agenda for senior women leaders
Half of the women leaders surveyed (50%) believed that climate change is one of the most important issues for women in Australia, with 80% of respondents citing climate change as the most important priority for all people living in Australia.
- CEW members highlight the importance of women’s participation and representation at decision making tables as Australia’s economy transitions in response to climate change.
Women leaders at every decision-making table
Women leaders must be at every decision-making table where economic and social decisions about Australia are made. 94% of respondents said Australia needs more women in executive profit and loss roles, followed by women in politics (80%), women in growth industries like climate change, sustainability, AI and STEM (72%) and mid-career retention of women (68%).
CEW President Sam Mostyn AO said World Economic Forum data ranks Australia first for women’s education, and seventieth for workforce participation, indicating Australia has an enormous untapped opportunity to leverage its available talent, especially women, in the workforce.
“As a country that ranks number one in the world for women’s education, now is the time to make the most of that investment by setting measure targets to ensure greater representation of women, and people of diversity, across the board to increase women’s leadership and diversity around its decision-making tables.”
Call for all governments to provide clarity on mechanisms to drive change
Two thirds of respondents believe that governments can do more to put in place mechanisms to improve women’s economic participation and progression.
The NSW Government’s women’s economic expert panel, chaired by CEW President Sam Mostyn AO, recognises the critical role that women can play in the state’s pandemic recovery. CEW strongly supports the adoption of similar mechanisms to help boost women’s economic participation and investment in care economies.
About Meet the Moment
CEW’s ‘Meet the Moment’ survey and report draws on the insights of Australia’s most experienced women leaders. It outlines action for industry and governments, including intentional policymaking that invests in the care industries, gender-balanced leadership in organisations and institutions around Australia, and the promotion and development of safe, flexible and inclusive workplaces.