Mentoring women not delivering the goods for ASX200


Women occupy more than a third of board seats of ASX 200 companies for the first time, but the improvement is partially offset by analysis showing that only one in 10 blue-chip company chairs is female.


Women accounted for 33.6 per cent of ASX 200 company directors at the end of May, up from 30.9 per cent a year ago, according to research by the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). However only 21 ASX 200 companies had female chairmen, up from 18 in 2020 and 14 in 2019.

Claire Braund, Executive Director of Women on Boards, said while encouraging this is still well short of the 40 per cent female, 40 per cent male and 20 per cent either and or any other gender that WOB had been advocating for well over a decade.”

“Many other sectors have managed to achieve 40 per cent - yet the ASX200 continues to hover around 30 per cent - while many lower listed ASX companies struggle to make double digits.”

“It is positive to see that the rate of appointment of men and women is approximately equal – 52 per cent versus 48 per cent - but at this pace we will not significantly shift the dial by 2022….and certainly not to 40 per cent,” Ms Braund said.

“If they aren’t already, ASX companies should be broadening their search for new female directors beyond C Suite roles in ASX200 companies, considering women with broad international experience, major advisory roles and government and private sector experience.”

Ms Braund agreed with Chair of the 30% Club, Nicola Wakefield Evans, who suggested three actions that needed to be taken to lift the number of female chairs:

  1. an overall increase in the number of women directors;
  2. an increase in the number of female executives with responsibility for a profit and loss account; and
  3.  better mentoring and sponsorship of female directors.

Ms Braund then noted that the AICD Chairs Mentoring Program – marketed as a flagship board diversity initiative aimed at boosting the participation of women on boards – has been running since 2010 and has an Alumni of more than 340 mentees.

“I am starting to think that the AICD Chairs Mentoring Program needs to be mentoring the chairs and directors of ASX listed companies – rather than potential female directors – to start to meaningfully shift the culture around female appointments to the top role.”

“If after 11 years we are still only at 33.6 per cent female NEDs on ASX200 and 10 per cent of chairs then it is probably time for a redesign.”

Download the full report here


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