There has been a significant increase in the number of women appointed to ASX 200 listed boards in 2010 – indicating that initiatives taken by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the ASX Corporate Governance Council and other organisations are starting to have an effect.
A year ago, the Australian Institute of Company Directors released a media statement calling for action to increase diversity on boards and foreshadowing a number of concrete measures aimed at helping to achieve that.
These measures have been delivered as promised, contributing to a year of real progress which is evident in the latest figures.
So far in 2010, 51 women have been appointed to ASX 200 boards, compared to only 10 in 2009. A total of 27 per cent of appointees this year have been female compared with 5 per cent in 2009. The proportion of female board members is now 10.3 per cent, compared to just 8.3 per cent at the beginning of this year.
According to John Colvin, Chief Executive of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, the results show that while more progress needs to be made, significant ground has already been gained.
“One year ago today, we announced a range of initiatives aimed at increasing diversity on Australian boards,” Mr Colvin said.
“We felt that the proportion of women on major company boards was not good enough and needed to be increased.”
“We believed that we had to take a leadership role on this issue. We wrote to all chairmen of ASX 200 companies outlining our initiatives, seeking their support in achieving greater representation for women on boards and in senior executive ranks.”
“We also began work on a number of practical programs which we believed would make a difference – which are all now up and running.”
“We are certainly not taking all the credit, but there is no doubt that improvement is occurring and we hope that our efforts, and those of other organisations, are helping to achieve that.”
“More needs to be done, but the progress to date is very heartening.”
The Australian Institute of Company Directors’ initiatives announced in 2009 and the milestones achieved in 2010 include:
- Mentoring Program: We launched the ASX 200 Chairmen’s Mentoring Program in April 2010. The largest program of its kind in the world, the Chairmen’s Mentoring Program involves 56 senior listed company chairmen and directors mentoring 63 women over the course of 12 months. The program provides mentors with exposure to a select pool of talented female directors available for board positions and provides mentees with the opportunity to enhance their skills and networks with influential business leaders. It has been highly successful and we are pleased to announce that we will be running a Mentoring Program again in 2011.
Scholarship Program: Our new Board Diversity Scholarship program, aimed at helping to increase the representation of women on Australian boards, has been extremely popular with more than 1,900 applications received from across Australia. Assisted by $200,000 in funding from the Australian Government’s Office for Women, the program offers 70 full-fee scholarships to high performing board-ready women to undertake our world-leading director education programs, as well as one-year membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors. Recipients will be announced in mid-December.
ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Guidelines on diversity: We contributed to the development of the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Principles and recommendations on diversity. All ASX-listed entities will soon be required to establish a diversity policy and disclose it on an ‘if not, why not’ basis. Diversity policies must include measureable objectives for achieving gender diversity and annual assessments on both the objectives and the progress in achieving them.
Diversity Booklet: We published a booklet entitled ‘Tips for Getting Started’ which explains the recent changes on diversity to the ASX Corporate Governance Council’s Principles and Recommendations and provides practical tips to help entities with complying with the changes and embedding diversity within the culture of their organisation. The booklet includes a helpful checklist to assist companies with their preparations and is available to download free from our website.
Education and outreach: We hosted more than 20 briefings, workshops and seminars in Australia and our conference in New Zealand tailored to the needs of aspiring women directors. These events raise awareness of the importance of diversity on boards and promote discussion of practical tips to assist companies in adopting a diversity policy.
Online Jobs Board: We now provide organisations with an online platform (called ‘Directorship Opportunities’) to promote vacant board positions. The service is open to all organisations and there is currently no charge to advertise vacant board positions. Only members of the Australian Institute of Company Directors are able to subscribe to the service. We are investigating expanding this service to enable boards and recruitment firms to search across our membership database to identify directors who may be potentially suitable for board positions.
Diversity website: We have launched a series of web pages on our website which are dedicated to the issue of diversity. The pages include details of our various initiatives in this area, provide the latest statistics from around the world on gender diversity on boards, links to articles and research papers, details our events and contains an online information directory providing details of services that are relevant to board diversity.
This document outlines the full package of initiatives announced by the Australian Institute of Company Directors in November 2009 and more detail about the milestones achieved to date.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors will continue with its various diversity initiatives throughout 2011.
One area where further work is needed is building the pipeline of women available for future board positions, particularly by addressing the obstacles to women gaining positions in senior management ranks that could prepare them for future directorship roles and also removing obstacles to women remaining in such positions. Where possible and appropriate, we encourage boards and companies to allow senior executives who are interested in directorships to take on at least one external directorship with a company where there is no conflict of interest (or risk of such a conflict) to allow that executive to obtain invaluable board experience which will assist them with any future directorship career. Such opportunities have been found to also greatly assist persons with their existing executive positions.
Steve Burrell, General Manager Communications and Public Affairs, (02) 8248 6627 or 0407 708 485
Michelle Wood, Media and Government Relations Adviser, (02) 8248 6786 or 04666 55 115
The Australian Institute of Company Directors provides education, information and advocacy for company directors Australia wide, with offices in each state to cater for more than 27,000 members. Our members work in diverse corporations such as small-to-medium enterprises, the ASX200 corporations, public sector organisations, not-for-profit companies, large private companies and smaller private family concerns.