IPOs opportunity for greater gender diversity

AICD

The AICD’s latest Gender Diversity report shows that women now comprise 35.1 per cent of directors on ASX 200 and 34.3 per cent on ASX 300 boards, reflecting the increased focus and attention of the corporate community on this issue.

But while the overall proportion of women directors in the ASX 200 and 300 continues to grow, with both well on the way to reaching 40 per cent, the same is not true for the boards of IPOs.

Of the 401 new ASX listings between 2019 and 2022, only 12.2 per cent of IPO board directors were women, in stark contrast to the 35.1 per cent on ASX 200 boards as reported this quarter.

Newly appointed AICD Managing Director and CEO Mark Rigotti said the lack of diversity on IPO boards was a disappointing result that didn’t reflect the expectations of many stakeholders such as investors or the community especially when the benefits of board diversity were so well established.

“We know how much gender diversity strengthens board culture and practice. Our last quarterly report highlighted the flow of new talent to the ASX 300, confirming what we know to be true – there is no shortage of qualified, board ready women and there is simply no justification for boards to have no women at all.

“A renewed focus on IPO board composition by all involved in that process, including companies and lead managers, is required to improve the position – and we know from the progress achieved to date that focus gets results.”

The materials sector is a significant contributor to the overall low level of female board directors for IPO companies, accounting for nearly half of all IPOs, yet only 5 per cent of directors were women.

The chair of Australia’s 30% Club Nicola Wakefield Evans said in 2022 it is time for IPO companies to get on board and appoint more women.

“We might be making good progress at the top. But with significantly fewer women directors at initial listing, there’s clearly some greater awareness and attention required to address this and unlock the opportunity for value that greater board diversity brings.”

Mr Rigotti said it should be at the core of each and every board in Australia to embrace diversity in its broadest sense, and to use each appointment as an opportunity to strengthen decision-making.

Mr Rigotti comes to the AICD from international law firm Herbert Smith Freehills where he served two terms as Global CEO and was chair of HSF’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Group.

Key Stats (As at 1 September 2022)

  • Female directors on ASX 200 boards = 35.1%
  • Female directors on ASX 300 boards = 34.3%
  • No of ASX 200 boards with no women = 2
  • No of ASX 200 boards with 30% women = 131
  • No of ASX 300 boards with 30% women = 181

ASX 200 companies without females on board:

  • AVZ Minerals Limited
  • Core Lithium Limited

Download the complete report here

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