Companies with a higher proportion of female executives perform better and are perceived as more attractive employers, a new report reveals.
In the Best Employers report conducted by Kincentric, organisations with more women in positions of power, and those with more of an even gender representation balance, were found to have ranked better among their employees.
Research by Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre and Australia's Workplace Gender Equality Agency shows that ASX-listed companies that increased their share of women in key management positions experience an average 6.6 per cent increase or A$104.7 million rise in their market value.
The Kincentric survey, which interviewed thousands of employees across 100 organisations throughout New Zealand and Australia, found that Coca-Cola Amatil and Foodstuffs' brand Four Square were among New Zealand's best employers, ranking in second and sixth place, among mostly Australian firms in the top 10 ranks.
Findings show the common thread among those high-ranking employers accredited as "Best Employers" were a significantly higher proportion of women in the most senior leadership roles, sitting at an average of around 41 per cent.
Gender-balanced leadership teams were also found to be better at "energising" their workforce, and were seen as more trusted and to communicate more openly.
The top-ranking firms were also perceived to have leaders that thought of their positions as a privilege and the responsibility to help their team grow and develop.
Despite growing evidence that firms with more gender-balanced leadership teams have more successful operations, women remain over-represented in less skilled and lower paid roles, and men still fill the majority of junior entry-level management roles.
Junior management roles were found to have a ratio of 1 female to 2 males among companies, meaning that overall firms were still likely to have a male-skewed pipeline of future leaders and executives.
Hugh Hawthorne, Kincentric New Zealand market lead, said there was still a long way to go for organisations to reach optimal female representation within their leadership teams.
"What we're seeing in those Best Employers is they tend to lean more towards diverse and inclusive thinking, and they see the value in getting different ideas and perspectives in problem solving," Hawthorne said.
"The majority of companies at the moment have around 25 per cent of women in senior roles, that has been picking up over the years and goes up about a couple of percentage points each year, but it is still behind the aspirations of most organisations."
Organisations with more women leaders were found to be more open to flexible and remote working arrangements among their work forces.
The "best employers" were found to have similarities of: more women in senior positions, greater perceptions of the leaders and those running the organisation and more favourable flexible working policies, among others, Hawthorne said.
Other findings revealed that employees thought the Covid-19 pandemic had brought out the best in their leaders, through increased empathy, the ability to make bold and decisive decisions, better communication and an overall heightened sense of responsibility.
Employees working for higher-ranked organisations were found to be an average of 81 per cent engaged at work compared to 60 per cent at other organisations.