Stand with WOB for 40:40:20



Women on Boards is using the week of International Women's Day 2019 to reiterate its call for a gender balance of 40:40:20 on boards and in leadership roles.

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That is 40 per cent female, 40 per cent male and 20 per cent of either and/or other genders. 

WOB founders, Claire Braund and Ruth Medd, who feature on the cover of this month's In The Black magazine, said in the end it's a numbers game.

"Unless you have a reasonable percentage of women on boards, then the benefits that flow from gender diversity are simply not able to be realised by an organisation. These include diversity of perspective, experience, skill, understanding and approach to issues. It is also true that improving the percentage of women often increases the likelihood that other diversities will be picked up - such as ethnicity and regionality."

Medd and Braund said setting targets of 40 per cent at a minimum made it far more likely that the oft-quoted and more conservative 30 per cent figure favoured by some in the business world would be more likely sustained across role changes, restructures and retirements. 

"It's obvious that the losing one women on a smaller leadership team or board has a substantive negative impact on the overall percentage - so its a good idea to build in a bit of wriggle room," Ms Braund said.

She commented that while the numbers of women serving on boards in most sectors had increased signficantly since WOB commenced operations in 2006 in Australia and 2012 in the UK, there was still many sectors where improvements were needed.

"We started to track the metrics in earnest in 2010 when we released our first comprehensive Boardroom Diversity Index on International Women's Day. This was our effort to hold companies accountable on an individual level to moving more women onto boards. " Ms Braund said. 

WOB's current Boardroom Diversity Index features 1600 organisations across 10 or so sectors - and shows that the ASX and Government boards have been the big movers when it comes to progress towards gender balance.

Ms Braund said there is a lot of good news to celebrate for IWD2019, including BHP's executive leadership team hitting 50:50, Ita Buttrose being appointed as ABC Chair and many WOB subscribers achieving board roles (including WOBSX graduate Leanne Heywood cracking her second ASX role in as many months.)

WOB's work in recent years includes:
  • Assisting boards to better understand modern skill sets – ICT, digital, strategic HR and marketing
  • Encouraging women to think about advisory board roles and directorship in early stage companies
  • Introducing AI technologies to better match women to board roles
  • Continued focus on the gender pay gap as the determinant of a women’s economic independence
  • Encouraging women of all ages and backgrounds to aspire to board and leadership roles
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