Adore Beauty is one of a handful of women-led companies that recently listed on the ASX, with a value of over $600 million. Here's who else to look out for.

Kate Morris, co-founder and executive director Adore Beauty. Image ASX

While the number of female CEOs in ASX-listed companies is still lacking, a small group of newly listed companies might herald a changing tide.

On Friday, online beauty business Adore Beauty and respirator company CleanSpace listed on the ASX, with Nutritional Growth Solutions set to list this week.

According to a report from the Chief Executive Women ASX200 Senior Executive Census released earlier this year, there were only 10 female CEOs in the ASX200 – the largest 200 listed companies in Australia – a drop from 14 in 2018. Out of the 50 CEO appointments in the last two years, only three of them were women.

“Progress is proving painstakingly slow and, in the last year, the number of women reaching senior leadership positions in the ASX200 has flatlined,” the report said. “We can, and must, do better.”

Among the number of female CEOs in the top 200 list is Macquarie Group’s Shemara Wikramanayake – the highest paid CEO in Australia in 2019 – and Fortescue’s Elizabeth Gaines.

And while progress may be slow, there are still women-led companies that have listed on the index. Here’s a closer look at some of them.

Adore Beauty

Aussie online beauty company Adore Beauty was co-founded by Kate Morris and James Height in 2000, beginning out of a garage in Melbourne.

“We couldn’t have known what the business would become, but even then we had a clear purpose: to create an empowering shopping experience that would make our customers feel confident and fabulous,” Morris, who is also an Executive Director, said in a statement to the ASX.

The company began with a $12,000 loan from family members before growing to stock more than 230 brands and 11,000 products.

In the last four years, the company has jumped more than 278% to over 590,000 active customers. In 2019 it opened a New Zealand website and in the 2020 financial year, its revenue reached $121.1 million.

According to the Australian Financial Review, Adore Beauty’s listing is the most valuable of 2020 and largest by a female co-founder. The company raised $269.5 million and had a market capitalisation of $635.3 million.

“As we have done for our first 20 years, we are focused on sustainable growth and building a high quality business over the long term,” Morris added.

CleanSpace

Also joining the ASX was CleanSpace, which designs and develops respirators for healthcare in industrial sectors. The Sydney-based company listed after raising $131.4 million and has a market capitalisation of $339.7 million.

The company was founded by a group of biomedical engineers in 2009 and since expanded to international markets including India, the Middle East and North America (its largest market).

As the coronavirus pandemic set in, it ramped up the need for respiratory protection and CleanSpace’s technology was used by hospitals and other healthcare industries.

CleanSpace’s CEO and Executive Director is Dr. Alex Birrell, who thanked the new shareholders for supporting the business.

“Or track record of successfully competing in core industrial and healthcare markets positions the business for sustained growth,” Birrell said in a statement to the ASX. “We hope to follow other Australian technology companies like ResMed and Nanosonics in expanding Australia’s manufacturing and innovation capabilities.”

Nutritional Growth Solutions

Liron Fendell, CEO, NGS

Nutritional Growth Solutions (NGS) is an Israel-based company that produces nutritional supplements for children and is set to list on the ASX this week. It has a market capitalisation of $18 million and valuation of around $12 million.

NGS’s flagship product is Healthy Height, a protein and supplement shake mix designed to promote growth in children. It’s currently sold in the US, Canada and Israel, with the company working to bring it to Australia as well.

The company also has a subsidiary in the US, with more than 90% of sales coming from North America.

CEO Liron Fendell joined the business in 2014 and told Business Insider Australia that the company wanted to list on the ASX as an entry into the Asian market.

“About a year ago we realised that a lot of our growth is going to come from Asia and we saw a lot of demand coming to our product from places like China [and] South Korea,” she said. “We knew that this is where we really want to focus our expansion.

“So we looked for the right platform to grow into Asia and we were basically looking at Australia as a gateway into the Asia.”

Fendell highlighted the importance of having women in leadership positions.

“We don’t see enough women in leadership roles in general, not just in ASX listed companies,” she said, highlighting the success experienced by countries with female leaders like New Zealand and Germany.

“We’re seeing that women can really make a difference and are great leaders,” Fendell continued. “So I 100% think that we need to see more women in leadership roles.”

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