Women in leadership: Great progress in the NFP sector

Women in leadership: Great progress in the NFP sector

It’s no secret that Australia still has a long way to go when it comes to gender equality in the workplace, especially when it comes to women in leadership.

Nationally, just 22% of CEOs across all organisations are women. And just 37% of key management personnel are women – though as bad as they are, those numbers are actually improvements on previous years stats!

Gender split of each management level

(Source: WGEA, Australia’s Gender Equality Scorecard, November 2023

But how does the NFP sector stack up? Surely a sector where women make up 78% of the workforce would be leading the way when it comes to women in leadership roles?

Inspired by International Women’s Day on March 8, we took the opportunity to survey our community of NFPs to gauge the representation of women in leadership across Australia’s NFP sector.

Thanks to the 260 organisations that participated in our impromptu survey, the findings reveal an inspiring picture of the sector.

Impressive gains in gender diversity

We last surveyed the sector on the levels of women in leadership role back in 2016, and found at that time that while most NFPs reported that women compose at least half of their organisation’s leadership team, this was mostly the case in smaller organisations – those with a staff of 50 or fewer. 

Among larger organisations – those with more than 500 staff – just 43 percent had a majority of women on their leadership team.

The good news is that over the last 8 years, the sector has made impressive progress. 

In 2016, 69 percent of all respondents reported that women compose at least half of their organisation’s leadership team. In 2024, this figure has surged to an overwhelming 89 percent of organisations.

What’s more, a whopping 35 percent of respondents proudly report that their leadership teams are comprised of 90-100% women. 

And a tiny 0.4 percent of respondents indicated minimal (0-10%) female representation in leadership roles.

Big changes in larger organisations

Perhaps the most significant progress has been made by larger organisations in the sector – those with more than 500 employees.

While in 2016, most (43%) large NFPs reported that their leadership teams still includes less than 50% women, in 2024 that has transformed, with not just most, but 100% of large organisations surveyed reporting a majority of their leadership team are now women.

The NFP sector is clearly now leading the way.

If your organisation is one of the 11% of NFPs still without a majority of female leaders – or if you you’d just like to boost the number of female leaders generally – check out our post on Four practical things your NFP can do to support women to lead.

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • Name *
  • Website