Top earners list highlights gender divide

The annual list of Australia’s top paid CEOs and senior executives once again highlights the paucity of women in highly paid leadership roles.

In the Australian Financial Review’s 12th annual survey of executive salaries in 2010, just five of the top 250 of Australia’s highest paid CEOs and executive chairmen are women.

Only two women, Gail Kelly at Westpac, and Chua Kong at Singtel, make salaries of more than $3 million per year. Sue Morphett at Pacific Brands, Nicole Hollows at Macarthur Coal and Katie Page of Harvey Norman are the only other women on the list of top paid CEOs.

Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, said the survey brought into stark relief the gender inequalities in the Australian workplace around payment and promotion.

“The fact that just two percent of our highest paid CEOs are women is frightening when you think about what this means in terms of the trickle-down effects.”

“It is not hard to see why we have an 18 per cent gender pay gap and a looming crisis with women’s retirement income in this country when you look at these figures.”

Ms Braund said the only positive note in the entire survey was the three women from Austar who made the list of Australia’s highest paid senior executives in the media sector. Dana Strong, COO, Deanne Weir, director corporate development and Nikki Warburton, group director products sales and marketing, were among five Austar employees on the list.

“These startling figures made me rush off to the Austar website where I discovered that nine of the 19-member executive team are women – an astounding 47 per cent.”

Congratulating Austar on its gender diversity record at the executive level, Ms Braund said that the company appears very much an anomaly in the traditionally masculine media industry.

The only other women to make the 80-strong list of Australia’s highest paid senior executives in key sectors were Laura Inman, CEO of Target and Karen Moses, Executive Director Finance and Strategy at Origin. This brings the number of highly paid corporate women in Australia to 10 from the total list of 330 – just three per cent.

“It’s a fact we all need to be appalled and seriously concerned about because of the long-term implications for women in Australia,” Ms Braund concluded.

Thanks to Claire Braund and Women on Boards for this guest blog!