ABC chair Ita Buttrose pushes for more female CEOs


“If you look at the number of women on top ASX200 [boards] we’re now almost 30 per cent … that’s a lot better than it ever was but I’d like to see it at 50 per cent,” Ms Buttrose said.

“And the four dinosaur companies that have no women … I mean really what are they doing? That’s unacceptable.”

We’ve made a great push for the boardroom, which is great, but it’s actually as CEO that you really initiate great change.

Ita Buttrose

While the number of women on boards has been improving in recent years, she said that when considering how many had reached the role of chairman this figure shrunk to 7 per cent.

“So there’s definitely room for improvement there but you’ve got to push for it. It’s never handed to you,” she said.

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Another area where she hoped to see change was getting women into the position of chief executive.

“We’ve made a great push for the boardroom, which is great, but it’s actually as CEO that you really initiate great change. I think we really need to encourage women to move to a CEO role,” she said.

“There’s a lot more women now in executive roles in the media, which there weren’t when I first started off in my career so I think we have come quite a long way. You can see in the general area there are a lot more women working. I still like to encourage women to aim higher.”

One of the positive changes she had seen recently was more women helping each other in the workplace, some that she didn’t see 20 or 30 years ago.

“My experience with younger women is that they are much more supportive of each other and that’s really good to see. I could see the change that’s occurred since I started getting up the ladder,” she said.

“When I started off in the world when I was 15 I never imagine I’d have the career I’d have. But I’ve never been afraid to ask for the job, I’ve never been afraid to take the risk, I’ve never been afraid to put my reputation on the line and that’s what you do.

“If you want to make it up to the top you have to put your reputation on the line.”

Jennifer Duke is a media and telecommunications journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

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