Commonwealth Bank media release


Increasing gender balance in leadership roles has the potential to improve retailers’ customer experience, according to the latest Commonwealth Bank Retail Insights Report, released today.

“Our research shows a clear correlation between the percentage of female executives in a retail business and its success across a range of metrics, including business confidence, personalisation and — most strikingly — customer experience,” said Michael Cant, Executive General Manager, Corporate Financial Services, Commonwealth Bank.

The report reveals retailers who provide an extremely good customer experience have gender balance in their leadership team, with an average of 47 per cent female executives, compared to just 35 per cent among those businesses where customer experience is poor.

Retailers with a three-quarters or more female executive will place a higher importance on customer experience than those with no female executives (89 per cent compared to 75 per cent). Within their customer experience strategy they are also more likely to see personalisation as important (89 per cent compared to 75 per cent).

Jerry Macey, National Manager Retail, Commonwealth Bank said, “Retailers with more female executives prioritise customer experience within their business strategy and within that, see personalisation as very important. And they’re right: in previous research, we found that three-quarters of Australians will stay loyal to a business that personalises their experience.”

Business confidence was significantly higher for retailers with more females in executive roles. For those businesses with a 75 per cent female executive team, 30 per cent expect business conditions to improve, compared with only 16 per cent with no female executives.

The report also shows retail is among the top performing industries when it comes to gender balance in leadership, with retailers on average employing 41 per cent females in executive roles, well ahead of the 23.3 per cent[1] average for Australia’s top 2,000 companies.

“It’s encouraging that many retail businesses have more female executives than average, however clearly some lag this trend. They may want to pursue gender balance considering the customer experience benefits that accrue,” said Jerry Macey. 

Despite retailers employing more female executives than average, the report shows that the larger the retailer, the fewer female executives are likely to be in place. While one in two leaders in businesses turning over less than $1 million is a woman, that number shrinks to 31 per cent at the big end of town (turnover of $500 million or more).


1 IBISWorld, Women on the long way to the top, 2015.

Further information
CBA media release: The true value of loyalty programs (13 May 2016)

About the Retail Insights Report
This media release references the leadership section of CommBank’s Retail Insights Report – edition two. The full report is available on request. The Retail Insights Report edition two is based on a quantitative survey conducted by ACA research. A total of 382 surveys of senior retail business decision makers were conducted between 4 February and 8 March 2016.

Media contact:
Commonwealth Bank Media
02 9118 6919