Gender gap improves for women on top 200 boards

Gender diversity on boards improves for ASX 200 as the AICD's Angus Armour calls for lagging companies to take greater action.

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The number of women occupying positions on Australia’s top 200 boards has just hit a new high.

According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) latest Gender Diversity report, another eight companies in the ASX 200 have joined the ranks of leading organisations by reaching at least 30% women on their boards, taking the number of companies to 113.

This means that women represent 32.1% of ASX200 board directorships as of the end of October, an increase from 31.2% in June.

The pace of improvement is the best we have seen since December of last year when the figure stood at 30.7%

Notably, 76 boards are just one female appointment away from reaching the voluntary 30% target set by the AICD.

On the ASX 300, there has also been steady progress maintained this year, with a similar increase of two percentage points since October 2019, to 29.6% this month.

“I am confident that we will see the ASX 300 reach the aggregate target in the very near future,” says Angus Armour FAICD CEO and Managing Director of the AICD.

“These numbers are particularly pleasing given not only the huge disruptions caused by COVID-19 this year, but also the disproportionate impacts on women from the pandemic.

“Now, more than ever, the representation of women in leadership is critical to ensure an effective post-COVID recovery.

“I believe that the message about diversity is being heard. Boards have been forced to adapt to disruption as an inherent feature of the ‘new normal’, with implications ranging from new technologies, digitisation and AI to financial and political uncertainty.

“Under such circumstances, diversity of thought can only be an asset, enabling fresh insights and challenging thinking: prerequisites for both adaptation and innovation.”

While progress continues at an aggregate level, there are still 87 boards in the ASX 200 that have not yet reached 30% women.

“The 76 companies who are one more female director away from the target may wish to consider whether the current composition of their board is reflective of the culture and values that are now expected,” says Mr Armour.

“Our investors and the community have made clear that company performance on leadership diversity is important, and reflective of a readiness to face future challenges of a modern world.

“They are demanding action, and the risk for companies who continue to ignore these shifting expectations is significant.

“We are calling on those boards who have not yet made active steps towards a gender-balanced board to consider the full pool of board-ready candidates for their next appointment.”

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