The 30% milestone for women on boards has been reached across the ASX 100, while the number of women on the boards across the full 200 is also at an all time high.
Up from 25.4% this time time last year, women now hold 27.7% of ASX 200 board roles, according to the latest figures released by the Australian Institute of Company Directors today.
And this time last year there were 13 ASX 200 board with no female representation, now that’s down to five (the list is below).*
Some companies are doing the heavy lifting on helping the full list edge closer to the 30% female target, given there are still 60 boards on the ASX 200 that have only one female board director, including a number with chairs who are members of the AICD’s 30% Club.
Fortescue Metals Group and Medibank Private are the only two to have majority female boards, both being 56% female. Another ten are exactly 50% female.
However hitting anything close to gender parity on these boards is still slow, with the rate of female appointments to boards dropping to below 50% for the first time since January, largely thanks to a drop of such appointments in the month of May — a month in which we saw significant commentary regarding whether women lack the qualifications to fill such positions.
The May dip is a cause for concern for the AICD which still hopes to hit the 30% milestone across the full 200 by the end of the year. It set the target in 2015 in response to the strong evidence showing that more diverse boards lead to better business outcomes.
According to AICD chair Elizabeth Proust it’s demand, not supply, getting in the way of achieving this target. “Australia is not lacking for talented and experienced women, and the breadth and depth of experience of female appointees in 2018 is evidence of that,” she said in a statement with the results. “However, even with the current year-to-date female appointment rate of 49%, achieving the 30% target by the end of this year will be tough.”
Meanwhile, non-executive director Kevin McCann has also shared comments within the AICD’s latest gender diversity report card, saying he has not experienced a talent supply issue when it comes to female directors.
“The arrival of a critical mass of women directors to boards raises the quality of board deliberations as a result of the collective intelligence from different perspectives,” he said.
He added that a “laissez-faire approach” will not be good enough for overcoming some of the continued challenges preventing women from being appointed to more board positions. “Engaging influential men to step up beside women to take action continues to present an untapped opportunity to achieving change.”
And he addressed recent claims that an increase in women’s participation on boards has been a failure, following alleged misconduct revealed in the banking royal commission.
“For a board to appoint unqualified directors, whether they be a man or a woman, would be a breach of their directors’ duties to act in the best interest of the company. In my experience as Chair of Nomination Committees on both ASX200 companies and smaller ones, this has not occurred. We have determined the skills required by the board. Where gender diversity is sought in an appointment, and no suitable women candidate is available, we have not been prepared to lower the standards required for the role and moved to select a male.”
The four ASX 200 boards that have no women include:
ARB Corporation Ltd
Ardent Leisure Group (Toni Korsanos was appointed to the board in late May, starting 1 July)
Tassal Group Ltd
TPG Telecom Ltd.