40:40 Vision initiative sparks ASX giants’ gender balance

40:40 Vision

BHP and ANZ are among the first 10 companies to sign up for the investor-led 40:40 Vision initiative, committing to achieving gender balance within senior leadership in 10 years. 

Launched late last year, 40:40 Vision has had companies with a market capitalisation collectively worth close to $300 billion, or 13 per cent of the index, sign up to lead the way in improving gender diversity among Australia’s corporate leadership. 

Other companies making up the first 10 signatories include BlueScope, Domino’s, IGO, Ramsay Health Care, SkyCity, South32, Tabcorp and Webjet. 

In signing up to the 40:40 Vision, companies pledge to achieve gender balance of 40 per cent identifying as women, 40 per cent identifying as men and 20 per cent any gender in their executive leadership by 2030. Signatory companies have also committed to publicly set gender targets for 2023 and 2027, disclose plans for meeting these targets and report progress annually. 

Strong corporate recognition of the urgent need to improve gender diversity is encouraging to witness, for HESTA CEO and 40:40 Vision steering committee chair Debby Blakey. 

“Changing our national culture cannot be achieved without courageous leadership. This must involve more women in leadership as well as men who value the perspective they bring,” Blakey said. 

“It’s very encouraging to see some of our nation’s largest companies make a strong commitment to increasing the number of women on boards and in executive positions. 

“By creating more equitable and inclusive workplaces these companies will reap the rewardsbecause there’s compelling evidence that better gender balance in leadership is not just fairer, but also good for business – resulting in better performance, better profits and better corporate governance.” 

This shows the positive outcomes that can be achieved through constructive engagement between investors and companies, according to Blakey. 

As investors, we share a common goal with companies of improving long-term performance and gender diversity is an important part of that. Improving the gender balance in major companies benefits HESTA members’ investments and also improves retirement outcomes for women through the availability of more career opportunities,” she said. 

For ANZ, to be thriving and successful in the future it is necessary to recruit and develop talented people and remaining open-minded in how it goes about that, according to ANZ CEO Shayne Elliot. 

“Not only will we continue to attract great talent to our organisation, but our team will better reflect the community we live in, including more women in leadership roles and committing to the 40:40 Vision helps reinforce that focus,” he said. 

BHP have already begun to achieve gender balance, according to BHP CEO Mike Henry. 

“Inclusive, diverse teams are safer, more productive, and make better decisions. They improve performance,” he said. 

Since announcing in 2016 our goal to be gender balanced across BHP by 2025, we have increased the proportion of women working at BHP by nearly two thirds and are now at over 27 per cent overall. 

BHP has a balanced senior executive team and we support the 40:40 Vision and the goal of achieving gender balanced corporate leadership in Australia.” 

First ASX listed company to join the initiative was Ramsay Health Care, who also has a strong record of embracing diversity and promoting women into leadership roles, according to Ramsay Group’s chief people officer Colleen Harris. 

By supporting the 40:40 Vision initiative, we hope to encourage other ASX200 companies to achieve gender equality,” she said. 

“Globally, we are a significant employer of women and we have long been committed to having strong female representation at all levels of the organisation. In Australia, 59 per cent of our hospital and facility CEOs are women and 60 per cent of our regional executives are women.” 

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