Superannuation, Sport, the ASX100, NSW Government Boards and Cooperative Research Centres are the only areas where gains of more than five per cent in the number of women on boards have been made since 2013, in new research released today.
Releasing the 2015 Boardroom Diversity Index (BDI) in Sydney, Women on Boards Directors, Ruth Medd and Claire Braund, said these sectors stood out for the greatest gains, but there were encouraging trends in all areas – except the Federal, Queensland and Western Australian Governments.
“It is clear to us that the message is starting to hit home in a number of important areas in the economy – in particular superannuation and ASX companies – but unfortunately not with some Governments,” Ms Braund said.
“It’s hard not to conclude that conservative leaning governments are bad for women.”
Queensland posted the biggest loss of -13.6% in the number of women serving on the boards of state owned corporations, followed by Western Australia with -3.2% and Rural Research and Development Corporations at -2.0%.
While the 91 significant Federal Government boards included in the research only posted a loss of -0.6%, the 2014 Australian Government Gender Balance on Boards Report (not compiled by WoB) showed the number of female board members down by two per cent on the previous year across 387 government boards.
“This is a worrying trend that, if it continues, could easily move to five or 10 per cent and erode the excellent work done by the previous Federal Government to move women into board roles via its Boardlinks program.”
The research reveals gender balance on governing bodies of universities, National Sporting Organisations, affordable housing companies, Medicare Locals, State Health Services (NSW, Vic and Qld) and State Owned Corporations in NSW, Victoria and South Australia is above 30 per cent.
Ms Braund said listed companies beyond the ASX100 still had some way to go, noting there were 81 companies in the ASX300 without a woman on their board.
She drew particular attention to five companies in the ASX100 - TPG Telecom, Ramsay Healthcare, Qube Holdings, Sirtex Medical and Domino’s Pizza Enterprises – who do not have a woman on their board.
“These companies are bucking the trend when it comes to other ASX100 companies who have steadily increased the number of women on boards to be in reach of a 25% target by 2016.”
“While this is clearly a long way short of the desired 40 per cent, it is moderate progress that we trust will continue.”
Ms Braund said Women on Boards has been focussed on the superannuation sector over the past year in terms of moving women onto boards and was pleased to see gains being made following stagnation in the 2013 index.
Of the 135 Superannuation Trusts measured for this year’s index, 254 of the 955 trustees were female (26.6%) – a rise of 5.7% on the 2013 index.
Speaking at the launch of the BDI, Anne Richards CVO CBE, Global Chief Investment Officer at Aberdeen Asset Management, congratulated the Australian Superannuation industry on the result.
Ms Richards, rated one of the most influential female executives working in financial services across Europe, the Middle East and Africa by the Financial News in 2014, said the global influence exerted by superannuation trusts meant it was critically important to get the right gender balance of trustees.