There are more men called Peter leading ASX 200 companies than women

After reading the extraordinary research published in America last week about the fact that there are more men called John running companies than women, diversity advocate, adviser and consultant Conrad Liveris decided to do some research of his own.

"The old story of gender equality goes that what gets measured gets dealt with and this has sustained advocates to consistently highlight the lack of women in senior leadership across a range of sectors," Liveris explains. "Challenges have been described, but numbers are lacking. How do men and women compare in pinnacle organisational roles?"

He delved into the ASX200 and looked at 400 different positions: 200 CEOs and 200 Chairs. This is what he found. Women hold 23 of those positions or 5.75% of the total. Of the remaining 377 positions he found:

  •  26 positions or 6.5% of these roles are held by men with the first name Peter
  •  23 positions or 5.75% of these roles are held by men with the first name Michael
  •  22 positions or 5.5% of these are held by men with the first name David

So in Australia a man named Peter has a higher change of either leading or chairing a large company than a woman has. This is despite the fact that women comprise slightly more than 50% of the population. I cannot locate an accurate percentage of Australians called Peter but it is certainly far far fewer than 50%.

Of the top 200 companies, two have women holding both the CEO and Chair roles – Investec and Veda Group. This is compared with 179 companies that have a dual male team.

In the ASX100 there are 14 positions are held by men with the first name Michael, 12 with Peter and 11 with David. Women equal the number of men holding Chair positions in the ASX100 with the first name John (six), but are less represented by men with the first name Peter (seven).

Of CEOs in the ASX100 positions are more likely to be held by men with the name Michael (nine CEOs have this name) than women (who hold seven CEO roles).

Of the 40 Chair and CEO positions available in the ASX20 there is just one woman – Telstra's Catherine Livingstone.

"Reviewing information on gender equality at this level in this manner may seem somewhat frivolous, however it helps better describe and categorise the scale of gender diversity at this peak level," Liveris says. "When organisations do recruit, promote and develop the best talent gender diversity is realised. Attention ought to be paid to organisations that fail to attain quality female applicants and appointments."

On a related note is it too late to change my daughters' names to Peter and Michael?

Georgina Dent

Georgina Dent is a Contributing Editor at Women's Agenda. She began her working life as a lawyer before building a career in journalism as an editor, reporter and recognised advocate for women. Follow her on Twitter here and Facebook here.    

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