Companies lacking women? Let's name and shame and get results - Women's Agenda

Companies lacking women? Let’s name and shame and get results

We know all too well that sometimes the only way to get a company to react to an issue is to name and shame it.

As Harvard’s Patricia Bellinger noted at the Women on Boards conference in Sydney this morning, such shaming can often provide the right amount of “encouragement” needed for a company to get serious about getting a women on its board. It worked for Facebook — which now has two women on its board — and it’s worked for companies locally here too.

Bellinger believes the Women on Boards annual Traffic Light report here in Australia can go a long way in providing the “naming and shaming”, otherwise known as “encouraging”, required to see large companies get moving.

While the next report is not due until July, Ruth Medd from Women on Boards shared some preliminary findings from this morning. These findings were based on her analysis of the diversity policies and of the largest 200 organisations listed on the Australian Stock Exchange, based on their 2011/12 annual reports.

Thankfully, perhaps due to gentle “encouragement” from a number of initiatives in recent years, there’s been some improvements from the 2012 report, with 14 companies achieving a “green light” for their diversity efforts — up from 10 in 2012 — and 20% receiving a red traffic light (yes, that means bad), down from 33% in 2012.

Interestingly, Medd noted a difference between the quality of an organisation’s diversity initiatives and the number of women on their boards, with 72% of those to receive a “red” still housing an all-male boardroom. The ASX100 was found to be doing remarkably better than those companies within the 101 to 200 range, probably due to better resources and more intense media coverage. She highlighted Stockland and Caltex as doing particularly well in each of their diversity efforts.

However, there were still plenty of organisations not making much improvement at all.

While we will need to wait until the full report is released this July to find out who’s been “shamed” — or encouraged into making progress next year — we could make some early predictions based on some of the examples that Medd provided this morning on how diversity is being reported.

One such example came from Discovery Metals, which revealed in its annual report that it’s been looking, but just can’t seem to find any suitable female candidates to fill board positions.

Yep, even after undertaking an “extensive and comprehensive recruitment process” both internally and externally with recruitment agencies, Discovery Metals could not find a single woman with the right expertise for a director role. Medd said she hopes the company is better at finding metal, than it is at finding women.

Discovery Metals is just the start. There are plenty of companies on the ASX200 up for shaming when it comes to their lack of women in leadership positions.

But just for your reading pleasure, see how Discovery Metals highlighted its “extensive” search for women, pulled from its annual report, below:

“The Company further notes that between October 2011 and April 2012, it went through an extensive and comprehensive recruitment process with external recruitment agencies to identify female directors with sufficient mining and finance expertise. No suitable female candidates were available. In the event that a future vacancy arises, the Company will proactively:

1) establish and select from a diverse range of candidates, including female candidates; and
2) make a decision based on the merit of the candidates. 

Regarding gender diversity in the Company for the current reporting period to 30 June 2012, the Company had:

No female directors out of a total of 7 directors;
> No females holding senior executive positions out of a total of 5 senior executive positions;
> Approximately 64 female employees out of a total of 494 employees in the Company.


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