Partnership to Increase Women Board Members
18 June 2012 at 11:28 am
The Australian Institute of Company Directors will partner with the Federal Government to deliver a second round of its Board Diversity Scholarship program, which aims to lift the representation of women on Australian boards.
The Program will award 70 scholarships to high performing women over the next two years, giving them the opportunity to attend the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ Company Directors Course or Mastering the Boardroom program.
Assisted by $225,000 in funding from the Federal Government, with a matching contribution from the Australian Institute of Company Directors, scholarship recipients will also receive a free 12 month membership of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.
“The business case for a diverse board is irrefutable, with many studies showing that a diverse board equals better business outcomes. This program is a practical way to help achieve greater diversity on boards by providing talented women with the knowledge and skills they need to help further their directorships careers,” chief executive and managing director of the Australian Institute of Company Directors John Colvin said.
“Nearly 2000 women applied for this scholarship when the program was first announced in 2010 and we have seen some terrific achievements by our previous scholarship recipients,” Colvin said.
He says that since this program began, there have been some encouraging improvements in the statistics relating to the numbers of women on boards.
According to real-time statistics compiled by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, women currently hold 14.3 per cent of directorships on the ASX 200, compared to 8.3 per cent in 2010. Women now hold almost 20 per cent of directorships on ASX 50 and ASX 20 boards.
“While we continuously track the ASX 200 as an indicator of gender diversity, we are aware that increasing the representation of women on boards must extend well beyond our top-listed Australian companies and we must show continued commitment to keep seeing results,” Colvin said.
“Progress has been made but more needs to be done and to that end, this scholarship program is just one part of our range of initiatives to address the issue of board diversity,” he said.
These initiatives include the successful national Chairmen’s Mentoring Program, the Victorian Not for Profit scholarship program, the ACT Public Sector Mentoring Program and an Indigenous Mentoring and Scholarship Program soon to be piloted in NSW.
“We will also be stepping up our engagement with chairmen and boards to help identify and match appropriately skilled female candidates with board roles and assist search firms to provide shortlists of potential new directors that include female candidates,” Colvin said.
“What is needed is sustained cultural change with respect to both board recruitment and selection practices and the promotion of women in senior management which provides the ‘pipeline’ to board roles. Women are committed to achieving board roles based on merit but need to be given the opportunity to build their skills and present their experience in an open and transparent forum.”