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Why are there so few female Rich Bosses?

April 17, 2015
Diversity & Inclusion
BRW magazine has released its annual Rich Bosses list, which includes the 100 richest executives and company leaders from 2015. 
Guess how many women are counted in our top 100 wealthiest bosses? 6.
Women make up 6% of this list, despite making up 51% of the population and 27% of CEOs. 
The is an improvement on last year’s Rich Bosses compilation – in 2014, only 5 women made the list.
The women who did make the cut are trailing below their male peers when it comes to wealth. The first woman to appear on the list comes in at number 33 and the second at 47, meaning only two women appear in the top 50 – and only just.
The other three women clock in at numbers 86, 91 and 97.
These women fall far behind in terms of total wealth as well as ranking. The total remuneration given to the male executives on the list is just shy of $175 million. The women totalled just $18 million. 
When looking at shareholding value, the discrepancy is even wider. The men on the list have a total value of $22 billion. The women? $307 million. 
How’s that for a pay gap?
The top six richest bosses on the list – all men – have a combined shareholder value that constitutes almost half of that of the entire list combined.
So who are the women who did make the list?
The highest-ranking female executive is Maxine Horne, CEO and co-founder of Vita Group, owner of mobile phone provider Fone Zone. Horne established the company with her husband in 1995, at whichtime it was one of the first and only mobile phone retailers in the country.
This was Horne’s debut year on BRW’s rich bosses list, with $89 million in shareholder value and an annual remuneration of $985,660.
The second woman to make the list is Kate Paige, chief executive of Harvey Norman Holdings. She has held the top job at the company since she joined it in 1983 and has also been the company’s director since 1987. Her 2015 shareholding value stands at $79.1 million, up 42.7% from last year. Her total remuneration in 2015 is $2,769,564. Paige is one of only two of the six women on the list to be included for the second year running.
Next in is Claire Gray, executive director of global development at Corporate Travel Management. Gray began her career in the travel industry in 1985 with Harvey World Travel, and has since enjoyed a decorate career in the field. Gray is also the vice chairwoman of the Asia Pacific region of the Global Board of the GlobalStar alliance of international travel management companies. This year was Grey’s first appearance on the list, with a remuneration of $94,747 and a shareholder value of $59.2 million.
Vita Pepe, chief operating officer at Spotless Group, came in next at number 86. Pepe was another debut appearance, with $32.8 million in shareholder value and $2,180,081 in remuneration after the services and facilities management business was floated on the ASX lastyear. Pepe has been the COO of Spotless since 2012 and held several C-suitepositions in the public health sector prior to her appointment.
Law firm Slater & Gordon’s British CEO Cath Evans clocked in at number 91, with $29.1 million in shareholder value and $859,894 in remuneration. Evans has had a long career with the reputable firm, starting out as a personal injury lawyer and subsequently becoming general manager of the personal injury division at the firm. She was then promoted to COO of Australian operations and then CEO of British operations.
The final woman to make the list is Shemara Wikramanayake, Group Head at Macquarie Bank. Wikramanayake leads the Macquarie Funds Group and has a $27.6 million stake in the business. Her remuneration totals $12,068,596. According to BRW, it is possible Wikramanayake may be tapped to replace Macquarie CEO Nicholas Moore when he steps down from the post.
The Rich Bosses list lost a very influential female member this year – Gail Kelly, former CEO of Westpac, who had previously held a secure spot on the list and as one of Australia’s best-known female executives. 
Congratulations to the six women who made the list. To those of you who missed out – let’s hope the numbers continue to rise in next year’s list (and hopefully by a bigger margin, too).
By Lucia Osborne-Crowley

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