Opinion: Dr Foula Kopanidis, RMIT Associate Professor, School of Economics, Finance and Marketing Dr Foula Kopanidis:
With the appointment of Linda Yaccarino as Twitter’s new CEO, the question on everyone’s lips is whether Elon Musk’s motivation was to achieve greater gender diversity in a predominately male industry or merely to free up his time for ‘other things?
Statistics and prevailing gender discrepancies in relation to the leadership positions women hold and their opportunities for positive impact on the direction and success of companies suggest the latter.
Musk’s motivations are transparent. It’s about him and his other pursuits and financial interests.
In the US, of the Fortune 500 companies, only 41 are run by female CEOs with only 22% of all available CEO positions refilled by women.
In Australia, gender bias and inequality are still prevalent issues in the workforce, with women making up nearly half of the labour force, at 47.4%, yet holding only 14.6% of Chair positions, and 28.1% of executive director roles, 18.3% of CEOs and 32.5% of management positions.
Women remain widely underrepresented in IT roles accounting 29% of all ICT occupations; or just one fifth of IT graduates, despite Australian women making up over half of Australia’s tertiary graduates.
Progress towards addressing inequality and holding organisations accountable by setting measurable objectives for progress continues to lag.
There needs to be more than just a push for organisations to become more accountable by setting targets to meet their gender equality targets.
Addressing greater gender diversity requires that organisations do more to have representation of women in the workforce across leadership roles.
Moving beyond tokenistic practices means addressing issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion through acknowledging implicit biases, barriers to entry, lack of recognition of contribution, addressing the gender pay gap and finding opportunities for retention and advancement.
But there are breakthroughs. Coles recently announced it had appointed Leah Weckert as the first female CEO in its 109-year history, joining four other women – Blackmores chairman Anne Templeman-Jones; CSL and Wesfarmers director Alison Watkins; CSL and Rio Tinto director Megan Clark; and Telstra, Origin, Brambles and Westpac director Nora Scheinkestel in serving as role models and inspiration for other women aspiring to do the same.
As one of the few women appointed as an executive to reach the top of a major technology company, Linda Yaccarino is in a favourable position to not only inspire and highlight impact in her role, but to prompt a conversation on the prevailing social attitudes, norms and negative stereotypes that often stifle and deter other women from pursuing and flourishing in their desired career paths.”
About Dr Foula Kopandis
Dr Foula Kopanidis is an Associate Professor in Marketing at RMIT University and a founding of the member of the Consumer Wellbeing Research Group (CWRG). Her research interests include consumption well-being, quality of life and she is the co-author of ‘The cracked glass ceiling: equal work but unequal status’.