Earlier in the week former competition watchdog chairman Graeme Samuel made an observation that a ‘nuclear bomb’ was necessary to blow apart the ‘impenetrable’ club of women that is keeping other talented females out of boardrooms.
Former competition watchdog chairman takes aim at the "impenetrable" club of women who sit on company boards https://t.co/iRSSeUwYhD
— The Sydney Morning Herald (@smh) March 26, 2019
To be fair, Samuel also acknowledged that the walls around the ‘boys’ club‘ also needed to be pulled down.
But his comments that an enclave of powerful female ‘names’ are somehow blocking the path for other women directors immediately drew the ire of individuals familiar with the actual figures regarding Australian company boards.
“There are so many wonderful female individuals out there that have got extraordinary expertise and the courage to challenge. But they’re not allowed in. You know why? They’re not a name,” Samuel said.
That they were delivered by someone of Graeme Samuel’s standing was particularly disappointing.
— Financial Review (@FinancialReview) March 27, 2019
“I completely reject the suggestion that a group of senior female directors are locking other women out,” board director and chair of the 30 Percent Club Nicola Wakefield Evans told Women’s Agenda. “I don’t think he understands the facts. The statistics speak for themselves.”
Shall we cover off a few facts?
- In the ASX200 there are 14 companies chaired by women.
- Eleven ASX200 companies have female CEOs.
- Men named Andrew are 27% more likely to be a CEO, than women. (Women comprise 50% of the population. Men named Andrew comprise a minuscule pool by comparison.)
- Women hold 29.7% of board positions in the ASX 200.
- Women comprised 45.4% of new appointments to ASX 200 boards in 2018, which means men comprised the remaining 54.6% of appointments.
- The average ASX200 executive group is 22.25 per cent female, with an average of two women and seven men.
- Of the 303 female directors on ASX200 boards, 70% hold only one top 200 board position.
- 16% hold two ASX 200 board positions.
- Half of the 100 female directors appointed to an ASX200 board in 2018 had never been appointed to a top 200 board before.
Thought you couldn’t be surprised? Someone who shld be across facts says there's a cabal of only 30 female directors!
2019 Facts: 315 female directors on ASX200:
2018: more than 50% of male & female NEDs appointed were new to ASX200 @AICDirectors @30pctAustralia @SueMorphet https://t.co/dyYrWEs1mp
— ChiefExecutiveWomen (@CEWAus) March 27, 2019
It is true that of the nine company directors in Australia who hold four top 200 company board seats, eight are women. But they are the exception.
The Chair of Woolworths and Origin Energy, Gordon Cairns, challenged Samuel’s comments in The Australian Financial Review.
“I would say there is a boys’ club which is slowly being broken open, I haven’t seen any girls’ club,” Cairns said.
Nicola Wakefield Evans says while women still hold slightly less than 30% of board seats it’s the boys’ club that needs examining.
“We’ve had to work really hard to get where we are. It has required an enormous amount of work, a lot of which has been done by the women Samuel refers to,” she says. “These women have been incredible at mentoring and supporting and sponsoring women into new board roles. You can see that through the boards, where the new women are coming on.”
In corporate Australia it is ludicrous to suggest that women dominate positions of power. The numbers show that doesn’t add up.
"Most men in the workplace (76%) are supporters of gender equality yet only 17% prioritise taking action." 🙄
This is a key finding from @CEWAus's seventh Australia gender parity report with Bain & Co. https://t.co/pPEZszKeTe
— Women's Agenda (@WomensAgenda) March 26, 2019
Men are still, overwhelmingly, calling the shots and as Chief Executive Women’s latest research with Bain & Co indicates less than 20% of men in positions of power are interested in actually progressing gender equality. Pretending that it’s women blocking efforts for diversity is fanciful and a distraction from the real problem.