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Qld Govt Tackling Gender Diversity

6 October 2016 at 11:08 am
Wendy Williams
A new government initiative is set to tackle Queensland’s lack of gender diversity on boards.

Wendy Williams | 6 October 2016 at 11:08 am


Qld Govt Tackling Gender Diversity
6 October 2016 at 11:08 am

A new government initiative is set to tackle Queensland’s lack of gender diversity on boards.

The Towards Gender Parity: Women on Boards Initiative, launched in Brisbane on Wednesday, aims to increase the number of women on Queensland Government boards through a suite of activities delivered over the next three years.

Minister for Women Shannon Fentiman, who announced the initiative, said the Palaszczuk government was committed to addressing gender inequality and this initiative was “just the first step”.

“It will tackle women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles and decision making because action needs to be taken to create opportunities for women to lead in Queensland,” Fentiman said.

“This key initiative will provide government, business and the community with a range of practical supports and resources to ensure gender diversity can exist in Queensland.”

It comes after the state government set gender equity targets last year that half of all new board appointees to Queensland Government bodies should be women with 50 per cent representation of women on the boards of Queensland Government bodies by 2020.

Fentiman said the proportion of women on Queensland Government boards had risen from 31 per cent in mid-2015 to 40 per cent as of September, 2016.

But she said while there had been “significant moves” towards gender equality in the state there was still “a long way to go before gender equality truly exists”.

“We know increasing women’s representation in leadership needs to happen – and it needs to happen now,” Fentiman said.

“Research shows gender parity would provide a proven positive impact on Queensland’s economy.”

Consultancy agency Deloitte has been commissioned to assist the state government in developing and implementing the Women on Boards Initiative.

This latest initiative will include the following elements:

  • gender parity action plans, designed to support boards and other key stakeholders (eg board recruiters) to implement plans to facilitate achievement of targets
  • establishment / enhancement of mentoring schemes, in conjunction with relevant industry associations and networks, to facilitate progression of women into leadership positions
  • mechanisms to better connect women with education and training opportunities, to help them gain the relevant skills and capabilities to take board positions as they emerge.

Fentiman said research showed the case for change in Queensland “was strong”.

“The economic modelling by Deloitte Access Economics reveals gender parity on Queensland boards will deliver $87 million in productivity gains without any additional workers or hours worked,” she said.

“But achieving this will require people to step up and actively challenge the status quo.

“We want a Queensland where we all have equal opportunities to participate, make decisions and contribute, regardless of our gender.”

It comes after the Australian Government released the Gender Balance on Australian Government Boards Report 2015/16 last month, which showed the Coalition had achieved its target for getting more women onto government boards.

Minister for Women, Senator Michaelia Cash said the proportion of female board directors had increased from 39.1 per cent at 30 June 2015 to 40.5 per cent at 30 June 2016, exceeding the 40 per cent target for 2015/16.

“The report shows that a concerted effort by government to increase female representation on government boards is translating into meaningful results,” Cash said.

Women comprised 46.5 per cent of new appointees over 2015/16, up 8 per cent from 2014/15. The report also showed the number of women holding chair and deputy chair positions had risen to 32 per cent.

However Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Women Tanya Plibersek pointed out Cash’s own department had failed to hit the government’s target.

She said it showed what a low priority equality for women was under this government.

“Commitment to women’s policy was a joke under Tony Abbott, and under Malcolm Turnbull and Michaelia Cash it seems to have disappeared altogether,” Plibersek said.

“Michaelia Cash clearly isn’t serious about women’s rights if she’s happy to accept $10,000 pay gaps and ignore gender targets in her own departments.”

Plibersek said she supported targets “because they work”.

“There’s strong evidence that diversity on boards improves decision making and governance,” she said.

Meanwhile a study commissioned by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, analysing board appointments in the 12 months to June 2016, shows ASX 200 boards are in line to meet a target to achieve 30 per cent of female representation by 2018.

It marks the first time the target has appeared achievable since it was set by the AICD in early 2015.
However there were still 22 companies listed on the ASX 200 that didn’t have a single woman on the board.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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