The 9 male CEOs stepping up to accelerate gender equity

November 30, 2023
CEOs committing to gender equity

We often talk about the role of the business community in building a better society, but more often than not we only see companies competing with each other. However, like any community, certain values are shared, and it’s ‘s these that bring us together to solve important problems.

It’s in this spirit of community that CEOs and Executive leaders from nine different WORK180-Endorsed Employers have come together as allies to leverage their collective power to make meaningful changes in their businesses and remove systemic barriers that hinder gender balance.

Each of the leaders in this article is driving the charge because they know that to truly champion gender equity, change needs to start from the top.

It won’t be easy, and it will take time. However, documenting these commitments is an important first step to developing concrete next steps to achieve gender equity.

The power of male allies on the journey to gender equity

It’s crucial to acknowledge that the quoted voices in this article are currently all males. While seeing more women into senior and executive level roles is a huge part of the journey to gender equity, this isn’t a change that can happen overnight.

In fact, according to the latest estimates, gender equality is 300 years away.

But the male allies you see listed below are paving the way to accelerate this timeline. Their commitment highlights a vital aspect of the journey—a united front where leaders, regardless of gender, stand shoulder to shoulder in dismantling barriers. Recognizing and amplifying these ally voices is a testament to the collaborative effort needed to achieve genuine gender equity in the workplace.

BHP | South32 | Water Corporation | Globe 24-7 | Sunwater | Western Power | Clough | Alcoa | AngloGold Ashanti Australia


Mining, resources & energy | 10,001+ employees

Brandon Craig, BHP WA Iron Ore Asset President

“Gender equity – two small words that don’t mean a lot separately, but together their collective impact is changing workplaces around the world.

​In 2016, we made a commitment to achieve gender balance within our global workforce by FY2025, but this commitment was never just about the numbers.

Having a diverse and inclusive workplace is fundamentally important to the culture we want in our industry and at BHP – a place where it’s safe to speak up, share ideas and debate and enable and develop people in exciting and meaningful work, in an interesting and enjoyable environment.

​At BHP and in WA Iron Ore, we are making strong progress towards gender equity and our focus on creating a more representative workforce is delivering results.”

South32south32 logo

Mining, resources & energy | 5,001-10,000 employees

Graham Kerr, CEO at South32

“The evidence is clear – a diverse, inclusive, and engaged workforce allows for greater collaboration, innovation, and performance.

We know that a person’s gender has no bearing on their capacity to perform their role or be a strong leader. The benefits in promoting diversity of thought and lived experiences in a business environment are obvious.

Despite these benefits and the inroads made in recent years, there remains work to do to achieve more gender-balanced workplaces.

At South32, we strive to embed inclusion and diversity into everything we do, to create a workforce that is as vibrant and diverse as the communities where we operate.

As CEO, I am committed to championing an inclusive culture and delivering on the measurable objectives that we have set, to support more balanced gender representations at all levels of our organization.”

Water Corporationwater corp logo

Mining, resources & energy | 1,001-5,000 employees

Pat Donovan, CEO at Water Corporation

“I feel privileged in my role as CEO to have the opportunity to listen to some truly inspirational women discuss their challenges, what motivates them, and their views on what needs to change to achieve gender equity. I’m determined to take the learnings from these conversations onboard and be responsible for ensuring women’s workforce participation, experience and pay are fair and equitable.

Advancing gender equity in our business is the smart thing to do. At Water Corporation, we are striving to co-create and support environments where we get the balance right and everyone feels safe, valued, and respected at work.”

Globe 24-7globe 247 logo

HR & recruitment | 21-50 employees

Alastair Fisher, CEO at Globe 24-7

“We shouldn’t shy away from having tough conversations and taking a business-led approach to inclusion and diversity.

Equity is a shared problem and as a male business leader, I have a responsibility to be a voice for diversity and to be vocal about getting this right, not only for our employees now, but also for the generations to follow.

At Globe 24-7, we’ve gone through a fundamental shift in how we encourage and foster diversity—and it began at the top.”

Sunwatersunwater logo

Mining, resources & energy | 501-1,000 employees

Glenn Stockton, CEO at Sunwater

“At Sunwater, we believe that diversity and inclusion (D&I) are not just buzzwords, but fundamental to our one Sunwater culture, creating a strong sense of belonging and driving a sustainable business. We are committed to growing a workforce that is diverse in all aspects, including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, age, disability, and socioeconomic background.

To turn our commitment into action, we have developed a comprehensive D&I action plan. This plan serves as a roadmap, outlining specific initiatives that Sunwater will undertake to promote diversity and inclusion throughout our organization. It encompasses a thorough review of our current cultural state, identifying any systemic or structural barriers present in our processes, policies, and practices.

Making real and positive change through our D&I action plan is of utmost importance.

As an organization, we recognize our social responsibility to provide equal opportunities to all.”

Western Powerwestern power logo

Mining, resources & energy | 1,001-5,000 employees

Sam Barbaro, CEO at Western Power

“Being a first-generation Australian, the son of immigrant parents, I have always had an attentiveness to fairness and equality. Growing up I observed and experienced biases, but in relation to gender bias, I was fortunate to have influential female role models – not only my mother but three older sisters – which meant that I was never under the ‘illusion’ that girls and women were not as capable as boys and men.

And this has been the case throughout my career, where I have seen time and time again that gender-diverse teams make better business decisions and that leaders are good or bad regardless of gender. There is no good reason why girls and women should not get the same opportunities as their male counterparts, yet it still happens.”

Cloughclough logo

Construction | 501-1,000 employees

Peter Bennett, CEO and Managing Director at Clough.

“As both a moral obligation and a business imperative, workplace diversity is a key commitment for our organization. With the privilege of leading a company known for its engagement and strong links to our community, the obvious benefits of diversity are a key driver in our business.

I am committed to providing a workplace environment that is inclusive of diversity and is adaptable to changing some of the antiquated work practices that can undermine efforts for gender equity, especially in our industry.

The tone and example must be set by the leaders of an organization, and a willingness to challenge past and existing practices is fundamental. While we have made some great inroads, we must not be satisfied with the current levels of inequity in our industry and constantly be seeking improvement.

Whilst we do not profess to ‘know the answer’, we do know if we do nothing, then we can guarantee nothing will change.

Our initial approach is two-fold: firstly, to provide a suitable work environment, capturing the simple issues like flexibility in work hours and facilities, and secondly, we must also provide the appropriate workplace culture which demands better education of both males and females in our business as to inclusion expectations and diversity benefits.

We have made good progress on the simple things like appropriate facilities, flexibility in work hours etc. and our retention is strong. Our challenge now becomes how do we better make our business and indeed our industry more appealing to the females of the future such that the candidate pool is vastly improved as we recruit the next generation. Our company is working with schools, universities, Government, and industry peers to better educate young girls, and their parents, of the opportunities a career in our industry can provide.

We are actively challenging our own work environment and that within our client base as well, to ensure qualified candidates are able to (and indeed want to) join our company without compromising on their personal circumstances or preferences.

Diversity is an investment in our future, and while it may be the next generation that reaps the full benefits of diversity, we must engage today to create the environment and culture for diversity to thrive, otherwise, future leaders at Clough will face the same inequity and barriers to change.”

AlcoaAlcoa logo

Mining, resources & energy | 10,001+ employees

Matthew Reed, Vice President Operations – Australia and President of Alcoa Australia

“Gender equity has moved far beyond being an aspiration or buzzword to being a fundamental principle in any successful workplace. At Alcoa, it has shaped our culture for some time, with more than 20 years of continuous recognition by the Workplace Gender Equity awards.

Alcoa is dedicated to providing equal opportunities while celebrating the unique strengths and perspectives of everyone. While we know we are on a journey that is far from complete, I look forward to taking ongoing action towards achieving real equity. My commitment is to create an environment in which every individual is valued, empowered, and feels safe and comfortable however they choose to identify.

We encourage all employees to embrace diversity, inclusion, and gender equity as shared responsibilities. Fostering an environment that thrives on inclusivity is not only aimed at achieving business success but also at making a positive impact on the world.”

AngloGold Ashanti AustraliaAGAA logo

Mining, resources & energy | 501-1,000 employees

Stephen Perkins, Senior Vice President Australia at AngloGold Ashanti Australia

“The importance of gender equity is no longer a matter for debate. The case has been made – both from a business perspective and a moral standpoint. It’s the right choice for company performance, and simply the right thing to do. But it is not enough to just agree with the sentiment, action must be taken.

Achieving gender equity is about more than representation statistics, it’s about creating a workplace that is physically and psychologically safe for all, where we can all find a sense of belonging and embrace our individual differences.

I am committed to continuing, and building on, the work we are doing at AngloGold Ashanti Australia to foster a safe, inclusive, and equitable workplace where everyone can thrive. Where we not only attract and retain women but support and develop them to build meaningful careers across all areas and all levels of the business.”

Where to find more voices of change

Many of the passionate voices in this article are also echoed in the collective commitment of CEOs for Gender Equity, a group of leaders dedicated to accelerating gender equity in Western Australia. 

These leaders inspire us to recognize that genuine change begins at the top, and through their shared wisdom, we’re empowered to embrace a more equitable and inclusive future.

Is your CEO or organization ready to commit to that inclusive future like the leaders and their companies above? Take our quick endorsement check to get started.

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About the Author

Jacynta Clayton’s career started in recruitment advertising and employer branding, working with global clients to create and deploy strategic and creative content. Now she combines her industry experience with the knowledge from her psychology and professional writing degrees to write unique and resounding stories. As a WORK180 storyteller she relishes the opportunity to elevate the voices and experiences of so many amazing people, while also empowering and educating audiences on how to choose a workplace where they can thrive.

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