Releasing their 2013 Boardroom Diversity Index, Women on Boards Directors Ruth Medd and Claire Braund, said the lack of movement in all but Government and ASX boards demonstrated clearly that ‘hope is a not a business strategy’ to improve gender balance on boards.
The index reported the number of women on the boards of 850 organisations across eight sectors (Government, ASX200, Cooperative Research Centres, Mutuals, Health Funds, National Sporting Organisations, Research & Development Corporations and Superannuation Trustees) as at 30 June 2013.
“Only in the Government sector did we see more than 30 per cent women on boards and committees. The former Federal Government set mandatory targets of 40 per cent women on its boards by 2015 and exceeded this overall with significant progress across many portfolios.”
“Of particular note is that the top 34 Federal Government boards by remuneration have almost reached the 40 per cent target.”
Braund and Medd said the National Sporting Organisations commitment to gender balance as part of its governance reforms were a ‘step in the right direction’ and they expected to see a significant increase in gender representation on NSO boards by 2015.
“The ASX200 made strong gains since the change to the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations in 2010, but this is slowing, and unless Chairs maintain the focus on improving diversity and gender balance on their boards, this progress is likely to stall.”
Medd and Braund said the ASX200 is being dragged down by the top listed 39 Western Australian companies who have only 7.7 of directorships held by women”.
By contrast the WA Government had increased female representation on its State Owned Corporations (Government Businesses) to 29.1 per cent from 23.1 per cent in 2012.
“Clearly WA industry could be learning from its State Government which is managing to find women for its largely port and infrastructure based boards,” Braund and Medd said.
The BDI highlights that superannuation trustees have largely stagnated, a factor which is particularly worrying given the Australian tax payer funds this sector to the tune of billions via the tax concessions for contributions.
“There is an urgent need for reform in this sector and the regulator (APRA) should consider making diversity a requirement of fit and proper policies for superannuation trustees. This would bring the sector into line with the ASX.”