Finance Finance News The defining traits of Australia’s top 200 CEOs

The defining traits of Australia’s top 200 CEOs

Chief executives of ASX 200-listed companies, such as Domino's boss Don Meij, share a few key ingredients. Photo: Getty
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They lead Australia’s most powerful companies, but the chief executives of Australia’s ASX 200-listed companies have much more in common than just that.

In 2018, Australia’s top 200 CEOs are overwhelmingly white, male, likely to live in Sydney and come from a finance background, data shows.

While 20 per cent of the ASX 200 CEOS were replaced over the past 12 months, the typical profile and background of a top 200 chief hasn’t changed dramatically, according to Robert Half’s latest CEO Tracker.

The vast majority – 93 per cent – are male, with just 13 women at the helm of ASX 200 companies in 2018, up from 12 the previous year. Nearly half – 47 per cent – live in Sydney.

ASX 200 CEOs aren’t a culturally diverse bunch, according to the Australian Human Rights Commission’s 2018 Leading for Change’ report, which found that 72.5 per cent of ASX 200 CEOs had an Anglo-Celtic background, 23.5 per cent had a European background, and just 4 per cent had a non-European background.

By contrast, 58 per cent of Australia’s population had an Anglo-Celtic background, 18 per cent had a European background, 21 per cent had a non-European background and 3 per cent had an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander background.

The AHRC described the lack of cultural diversity among chief executives in Australia as “dismal” for a society that “prides itself on its multiculturalism and egalitarianism”.

“It challenges Australia’s egalitarian self-image. It also challenges Australia as a nation whose prosperity relies upon international trade, capital inflows and mobility of people,” the report said.

In July, Beyond the Pale, a report on the cultural diversity of ASX 100 boards by the University of Sydney Business School found the boards did not reflect the “breadth of cultural diversity” in Australia’s workforce and population.

“It is both troubling and curious that this diversity is not reflected in Australian corporate leadership,” the report said.

When it comes to education, only 15 per cent of ASX 200 CEOs had no tertiary education, with 82 per cent having completed an undergraduate degree, 56 per cent holding postgraduate qualifications, and 23 per cent having completed an MBA.

A career in banking seems the surest path to a chief executive role, with 47 per cent coming from a financial background, and only 8 per cent rising up the ranks through the technology sphere, despite the sector’s growing prominence.

“Having a background in finance is crucial for leaders to navigate complex economic conditions, while still endeavouring to increase profit margins, shareholder value and cost efficiencies,” Robert Half Asia Pacific managing director David Jones said of the findings.

“However, in order to navigate the business and workplace landscape of the future, leaders today need technology-based skills that are on par with their financial acumen.

“We can only anticipate these skillsets amongst Australia’s top leaders will become more prominent as Australian companies continue to innovate.”

Longevity isn’t the norm for ASX 200 chief executives, with just 12 per cent holding the position for more than 11 years, 25 per cent in the job for 10 years, and 65 per cent in the role for less than five years.

The paycheque

Source: Australian Council of Superannuation Investors

The 10 highest-paid ASX 200 CEOs earned a combined total of more than $185 million last financial year.

Domino’s Pizza supremo Don Meij was the highest-paid CEO, taking home more than $36 million, according to a report by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors.

As The New Daily reported earlier this year, that’s a whopping 669 times the median wage of an ordinary Australian worker, which Treasury puts at $55,063.