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Women on boards again another all time high of 12.7 per cent in Australia, while UK boards ponder implications of The Davies Report on gender balanced boardrooms

Women are joining boards in unprecedented numbers in Australia, accounting for thirty per cent of new ASX board appointments this year – a 600 per cent increase on 2009 when women accounted for just 7.5 per cent of appointments – according to a new report by The Australian Institute of Company Directors.  Women now hold 12.7 per cent of directorships in Australia’s top 200 companies which is a record high, prompting the question of whether the change has been driven by the Australian Stock Exchange’s tightened corporate governance guidelines incorporating the disclosure and reporting of gender balance targets and initiatives, or whether other factors have accounted for the change?

Over in the UK Chairmen have been keeping a watchful eye on our results given The Davies Report released in February this year featured a number of initiatives aimed at increasing the representation of women on UK’s boards, with Lord Davies making reference to the ASX principles in media surrounding the launch and his report including initiatives closely aligned to the ASX requirements.  

Lord Davies recommends that UK listed companies in the FTSE 100 should be aiming for a minimum of 25% female board member representation by 2015. He has recommended in his report for government that FTSE 350 companies should be setting their own, challenging targets and expects that many will achieve a much higher figure than this minimum.

The Davies Report says that companies should set targets for 2013 and 2015 to ensure that more talented and gifted women can get into the top jobs in companies across the UK. Lord Davies also calls on chairmen to announce these goals in the next six months and Chief Executives to review the percentage of women they aim to have on their Executive Committees in 2013 and 2015.

As part of the report Lord Davies and his panel state that companies should fully disclose the number of women sitting on their boards and working in their organisations as a whole, to drive up the numbers of women with top jobs in business.

The report also recommends:

  • Investors should pay close attention to the recommendations from the report when considering re-appointments to a company board.
  • Companies should periodically advertise non-executive board positions to encourage greater diversity in applications.
  • Headhunting firms should draw up a voluntary code of practice addressing gender diversity in relation to board level appointments to FTSE 350 companies.
  • The Financial Reporting Council to amend the UK Corporate Governance Code to require listed companies to establish a policy concerning boardroom diversity. This should include how they would implement such a policy, and disclose annually a summary the progress made.

What’s your thoughts on this?  Are we making enough progress in Australia?  Are the current initiatives enough, or should we be implementing quotas? 

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