A total of 605 board and committee vacancies were posted on WOB over 2016 and 2017. Victoria topped the count with 288 vacancies - nearly 48% of all vacancies.
||Number board and committee roles posted on WOB website
||% board and committee roles posted on WOB website
The number of vacancies posted came from a pool of some 2,000 state and federal government boards and committees that WOB regards as being of highest impact and importance. These include government owned corporations, statutory authories, tribunals, advisory bodies and boards of public service entities, such as hospitals.
Over the years WOB has made great efforts to ensure government board and committee roles are brought to the attention of WOB members. This has been through the establishment of good working relationships with government ministers and bureacrats and demonstrating that WOB is a source of quality board talent.
The way that governments seek to increase female appointments to its boards and committees varies. It can be an election pledge to a target or a general intention. It can be an announcement from a Minister for Women following cabinet consideration; it can be internal departmental procedures that enables the identification of female talent. It can be a minister on a mission.
Governments try a range of things - some effective and others ineffective. The bottom line is does the appointee (a Minister or cabinet) have an active interest and a system with good reporting? Many do. Others need active encouragement by the likes of WOB. In our view the game changer is making a vacancy publicly known by advertising; not the 'do you know anyone' approach.
The current WOB system provides data on two plus years of postings. In these years we have seen determined action by Queensland and Victoria in particular. SA and Tasmania have been 'on the page' for some years. NSW is committed but slower to deliver. WA is intending to be active following their most recent election.
Victoria is the best performer, delivering great commitment to government policy of 50% female appointments. Victorian postings comprise 48% of the pool of postings on WOB and regularly conducts centrally managed and well-resourced recruitment campaigns. For example, in 2017, Victoria advertised 92 hospital boards plus other health entities.
As expected from our interactions, WA is lagging. But with a change of government it now has a policy of appointing more women so we look forward to an improvement in the openness and transparency of board recruitment in WA.
The information on Tasmanian board numbers was difficult to interpret. Tasmania may well have more than 60 boards and committees. Similarly, the ACT and NT.
Who needs to lift their game?
WOB data suggests that WA, SA and NT could make better use of the WOB service to advertise boards and committees to a body of interested and board ready women. NSW also needs to rethink its approach. For example, NSW has a number of health boards but we have not seen a public advertisement for a number of years.
All jurisdictions could benefit from the Victoria approach where the whole recruitment process is reported up. This includes percentage of female applicants, percentage on shortlist, percentage interviewed and finally percentage appointed. Additionally, Victoria reaches out to numerous candidate communities (including WOB) to ensure its message gets out.