Government Trailing, ASX100 Leading on Board Diversity
25 March 2015 at 9:30 am
Governments, especially conservative leaning ones, are failing to match the progress of the ASX100 in addressing gender diversity, according to Directors of Women on Boards, in recently releasing their index measuring board diversity.
The 2015 Boardroom Diversity Index (BDI) compiled by Women on Boards showed that gains of more than five per cent in the number of women on Australian boards have been made in ASX100 and also in Superannuation, Sport and Cooperative Research Centres since 2013.
Women on Boards Directors, Ruth Medd and Claire Braund, said that those sectors stood out for the greatest gains, but there were encouraging trends in all areas – with the exception of 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,” Braund said.
“It’s hard not to conclude that conservative leaning Governments are bad for women.”
Now in its fifth edition, the Women on Boards Boardroom Diversity Index evaluated 1,422 organisations from more than 10 sectors.
Queensland posted the biggest loss of -13.6 per cent in the number of women serving on the boards of state owned corporations, followed by Western Australia with -3.2 per cent and Rural Research and Development Corporations at -2.0 per cent.
While the 91 significant Federal Government boards included in the research only posted a loss of -0.6 per cent, the 2014 Australian Government Gender Balance on Boards Report previously showed the number of female board members down by two per cent on the previous year across 387 government boards, according to Women on 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,” Braund said.
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.
And despite progress overall in the ASX100, Braund said five of those companies – TPG Telecom, Ramsay Healthcare, Qube Holdings, Sirtex Medical and Domino’s Pizza Enterprises – still did 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 per cent target by 2016,” she said.
“While this is clearly a long way short of the desired 40 per cent, it is moderate progress that we trust will continue.”
The research revealed 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 was above 30 per cent.
Additionally, of the 135 Superannuation Trusts measured for this year’s index, 254 of the 955 trustees were female (26.6 per cent) – a rise of 5.7 per cent on the 2013 index.
Speaking at the launch of the new index in Sydney, Anne Richards CVO CBE, Global Chief Investment Officer at Aberdeen Asset Management, congratulated the Australian Superannuation industry on the result.
Richards, described as 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.
See the index here.