For the first time in history, there are no all-male boards on the ASX 200, according to research from the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
This followed the appointments of woman directors to Silver Lake Resources and Chalice Mining.
When the AICD began its quarterly reporting of women on ASX 200 boards in 2015, there were 28 all-male boards.
Angus Armour, AICD chief executive and managing director, said a great shift in the approach to diversity by the largest organisations had occurred in recent years.
“This is testament to the leadership and commitment of Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) chairs and directors, as well as the numerous groups who have pushed for change and ensured that gender diversity remains a priority for organisations,” Armour said.
“We want to ensure this success is maintained. It is important all chairs to continue to prioritise diversity in the search for directors.”
According to the ‘Towards Board Gender Parity’ report by the University of Queensland Business School, Australia was one of few countries to achieve 30% women on the boards of its top companies without mandated quotas or government intervention.
Nicola Wakefield Evans, 30% Club Australia chair, said when the push for gender diversity on the ASX 200 begun there was a view that Australia did not offer the talent pool of qualified women to achieve the target.
“With nearly 500 ASX 200 board positions now held by women, that myth is well and truly busted – the calibre of women on our leading boards is exceedingly high, from those who are well established to emerging directors achieving their first listed role,” Wakefield said.
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) supported the 30% Club in Australia and worked with other industry bodies and groups to promote gender diversity on boards.
“In 2010, when ACSI began its efforts to improve board gender diversity, only 8% of ASX 200 director seats were occupied by women,” it said.
“In 2015, when ACSI set 30% as a minimum objective, there were 34 companies in the ASX200 without a woman director.
“This week, 126 companies in the ASX200 had 30% or more women on their boards, with an average of 34% women, and women comprised more than half of directors on the boards of 15 companies in the ASX200.”
Louise Davidson, ACSI CEO, said this was an historic moment and the benefits of having more women in governance roles was well established and being clearly recognised in boardrooms around Australia.
“More diverse boards make for better governed companies, which is intrinsically linked to long-term shareholder value,” Davidson said.
“It’s important that we maintain the momentum for change and continue to increase both the number of women, and diversity of experience on boards.
To continue the momentum of gender diversity in Australia, the AICD, 30% Club and ASCI all supported a 40:40:20 model of gender balance.
Under this approach, boards aimed for at least 40% of director seats to be held by both men and women on a consistent basis, with flexibility over the remaining 20% of seats.
“There is more work to be done to achieve gender balance, which we define as a minimum of 40% women, 40% men and 20% unallocated to allow flexibility for board renewal,” Davidson said.
“Listed companies should set a time frame within which they will achieve gender balance on their boards.”