Chief Executive Women
Founded in 1985, Chief Executive Women (CEW) now represents more than 650 of Australia’s most senior and distinguished women leaders across business, academia, government, and the arts and not-for-profit sectors. CEW is an Australian member association with a national membership and state chapter chairs in all five Australian mainland states and the Australian Capital Territory.
CEW strives to educate and influence all levels of Australian business and government on the importance of gender balance. Through advocacy, targeted programmes and scholarships, CEW works to remove the barriers to women’s progression and ensure equal opportunity for prosperity.
The CEW leaders programme is designed to equip women to fulfil their leadership potential. It provides women with the skills to take their place alongside men so organisations can deliver the best possible outcome for customers, shareholders and the community. CEW’s scholarship programme enables and supports the ongoing development of women leaders. Together with its partners, CEW offers senior executive women the unique opportunity to attend leadership courses at leading international business schools.
CEW’s shared mission is “women leaders enabling other women leaders”. Its four areas of priority are:
- Women’s leadership. To advocate for gender balance in leadership that benefits women, business and the entire community.
- Economic security. To strengthen women’s economic security across their working life and into retirement.
- Flexible work. For men and women to have equal access to working flexibly.
- Women’s workplace participation and caring responsibilities: to enable more women’s workforce participation through accessible, affordable, quality childcare.
CEW had its foundations in 1985 as a branch of the Paris-based organisation, Women Chiefs of Enterprise. A mutual passion to get a fairer deal for women leaders underpinned the formation of the group. CEW also provided a haven for women seeking to share their experiences as pioneers in the boardrooms and C-suites of Australia. Over time, the membership has become a rich environment of learning and energy, with an agenda to drive the expansion of women leaders in Australia.
CEW has an unwavering focus on including the most senior women in Australia as members regardless of where they live, their mode of employment (executive or nonexecutive) and the type of organisation they lead (not-for-profit, public or private sector). Membership is offered to women who meet the CEW membership criteria and remains open to them throughout their lifetime. Women must be endorsed by a current member and fulfil a selection criterion based on their leadership sphere.
CEW works in partnership with organisations that make generous donations in the form of skill, time and thought leadership (see box). This generosity has resulted in powerful research and insights into women’s representation in leadership and gender equality and has enabled CEW to make meaningful contributions to the public discourse.
CEW’s annual dinner is one of the most prestigious events in Australia’s corporate calendar. It is attended by CEOs and their management teams from across the country. The dinner is CEW’s most important fundraising event and these funds are used directly to support the scholarships and programmes run by CEW to enable more women leaders in Australia.
CEW is governed by a board comprising the president, treasurer, committee chairs and state chapter representatives. The president is elected by the board every two years.
Partners and sponsors
Principal business partner: ANZ
Principal research partner: Bain & Company
CEW partners: Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, KWM, Spencer Stuart
Annual dinner sponsors
Platinum Sponsor: KWM
Gold sponsors: ANZ, BHP, KPMG, NAB, QBE, Telstra
Official airline sponsor: Qantas
Premises Partner: CBRE
Silver Sponsors: Allens, AMP, Ashurst, BCG, CBA, Dan Murphy’s, Deloitte, EgonZehnder, EY, Gilbert + Tobin, Harvey Norman, Heidrick & Struggles, IAG, J.P. Morgan, Lendlease, Macquarie, Microsoft, Russell Reynolds Associates, Spencer Stuart, Suncorp, Wesfarmers, Westpac