Gender diversity lagging on ASX boards

Data from the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) shows leadership positions at Australia’s largest companies remain overwhelmingly male-dominated.

In light of International Women’s Day, ACSI’s analysis revealed women only made up 9.5% of board chair roles and 6.5% of chief executive roles across the top 200 companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX 200).

Meanwhile, women occupied more than 36% of board seats in the ASX 50 and almost 35% of seats in the ASX 200.

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While women directors were on the boards of every ASX 200 company, there remained seven laggards in the ASX 300 without a woman on their boards, with three having never appointed women directors.

ACSI CEO, Louise Davidson, said more needed to be done to address the gender imbalance in leadership positions at Australia’s largest companies.

“While it is encouraging that the number of women on boards continues to rise, more needs to be done to boost the number of female chairs and CEOs. And we expect those boards without any women at all to remedy the imbalance.

“More board diversity improves governance standards at companies and is strongly linked to long-term shareholder value. ACSI members have pushed to increase gender diversity across the ASX, including in leadership positions.

“Recent examples of sexual harassment at some of Australia’s largest companies reinforce the importance of board and executive accountability when it comes creating a safe workplace and promoting gender equality.”

Though boards had increased gender diversity, they had not yet met the 40% mark with women directors across the ASX 200.

“There is still much work to be done to achieve the gender-balanced targets,” Davidson said.

“There also remains a profound challenge to further boost female representation in board and executive leadership positions.”

ASX 200/300 board gender diversity progress as at February, 2022

  • 65 companies in the ASX 200 had 40% or more women directors, with 170 boards in the ASX 300 having above 30% women directors.
  • There were only 19 one-women boards in the ASX200.
  • The ASX 200 in 2015 was about 18% women on boards but was now at 34.6%.
  • The ASX 300 crossed the 30% barrier in November 2020. It was now at 33.1%.
  • Number of ASX 200 women CEOs climbed to 13, although one was due to retire.
  • Number of ASX 200 women chairs lifted from 11 in 2015 to 19 in 2022 (down five on 2021)

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They just can't stop with this BS. Merit, not gender (by which you actually mean biological sex on this occasion) is only way to respect all parties.

I don't disagree with people being appointed on merit. The point is though, that the population is roughly 50/50 male and female, and females are biologically no less intelligent on average. ( I think it may even be the case that females are still over represented in university admissions). If we are appointing only on merit, then it is just as likely that a female has the capability. Why is it then that females are under represented at senior levels? Either women are consciously choosing not to progress and so the pool of candidates is smaller potentially due to family reasons (perhaps the partner is not supportive or their career is seen to take priority, or the woman just doesn't feel the sacrifice is worth it), or there is unconscious bias.

Talking to a Female State Manager from a major Supermarket chain who told me keen males who were highly qualified and good operators were being declined roles of stores managers so that this ASX listed company could meet there female quota. The only problem was that the experienced females just didn't want the jobs as they were quite happy. The result was that even younger inexperienced females and usually poorly skilled were literally being pushed and pressured into roles which they later left. She was quite upset. No doubt transitions we will need to adjust with.

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