Last month, the AICD announced that, for the first time in history, there are no all-male boards at Australia’s top 200 companies.
The latest AICD report shows women now make up 33.7 per cent (as at 31 August 2021) of board roles in the ASX 200, but there are 74 boards that have not reached the 30 per cent target and 22 boards in the ASX 200 with just one woman.
Meanwhile, the ASX 300 has reached 32.1 per cent women on boards but still has eight all-male boards and 51 with just one woman.
There has been significant progress in companies in the ASX 201-300, with a 6 per centage point increase in the overall proportion of women on boards – from 21.8 per cent in January 2020 to 28.1 per cent at the end of August.
Proportion of women directorships in the ASX
31 Jan 20
30 Apr 20
31 Jul 20
31 Oct 20
28 Feb 21
31 May 21
31 Aug 21
AICD CEO and Managing Director Angus Armour said, “Reaching no all-male boards in the ASX 200 is a milestone for Australia that should be celebrated. It represents a great shift in the approach to diversity by our largest organisations.
“The progress being seen lower down on the ASX is also encouraging and a testament to the leadership and commitment of chairs and directors, as well as groups who have pushed for change.
“To ensure this momentum continues, boards also need to look further into the diversity of their executive teams. The board plays a key role in setting the tone for inclusion within an organisation, and through their own modelling of diversity can play an influential role in inspiring and supporting women into management roles.
“If these principles were truly embraced by organisations, there is no reason we shouldn’t witness gender parity across leadership ranks much sooner than is currently anticipated.”
The recent Towards Board Gender Parity report by the University of Queensland Business School highlighted that Australia was one of just three countries in the world to reach 30 per cent women on their top listed company boards without mandated quotas.
However, the report identified that there are potential risks to future progress on gender diversity, one of them being the shrinking pipeline of women into CEO and senior executive roles.
30% Club Australia Chair, Nicola Wakefield Evans, said, “To ensure sustainable change, organisations should set clear targets to report against, invest in talent pipelines and make leaders accountable for improving women’s progression into leadership roles.
“Key to this will be challenging the current environment to create career pathways and ensuring cultures in which women are able to thrive and progress into leadership roles.
“The calibre and experience of women being appointed to ASX boards, from those who are well established to those achieving their first listed role, is exceedingly high, busting the myth that setting board gender targets would lead to a decrease in the quality of appointments.”
Earlier this month, the 2021 Chief Executive Women’s (CEW) Senior Executive Census echoed this concern, revealing little progress on the representation of women in key executive roles in the past five years. It revealed that women hold only 10 CEO roles in ASX 200 (down from 14 in 2018) and 18 in ASX 300 companies.
The CEW is now calling for gender targets in executive leadership teams, which both the AICD and 30% Club Australia support.
The AICD urges companies to use each appointment as an opportunity to shift towards a sustainable model of equality that ensures women are represented across each level of leadership.
The AICD also encourage all organisations to embrace a 40:40:20 model of board gender diversity, where boards have at least 40 per cent women directors and 40 per cent men directors, as good practice.