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TMCNet:  Four Years of Progress on Board Diversity, Say Directors

[March 08, 2014]

Four Years of Progress on Board Diversity, Say Directors

(Targeted News Service Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) SYDNEY, March 7 -- The Australian Institute of Company Directors issued the following news release: The percentage of women on Australia's top corporate boards has more than doubled - and the number of ASX200 companies without a woman on their board halved - over the last four years, new figures from the Australian Institute of Company Directors show.


Speaking on the eve of International Women's Day, Company Directors' Chief Executive Officer, John Colvin, said the figures showed that while more progress still needs to be made, significant ground has been gained as Australian companies embrace the need for greater gender diversity on their boards and in senior management.

"A little over four years ago we announced our Board Diversity Initiative, which included a plan of action aimed at increasing the number of women on Australian boards," Mr Colvin said.

"We felt that the proportion of women on major company boards was not good enough and needed to be increased." "We believed that we had to take a leadership role on this issue. We wrote to all chairmen of ASX200 companies outlining our initiatives, seeking their support in achieving greater representation for women on boards and in senior executive ranks." "Believing that actions speak louder than words, we also introduced a range of practical programs which we thought would really make a difference - which have all since made a significant contribution to great gender diversity on Australian boards." "There is no doubt that improvement is occurring and that our efforts, and those of other organisations, are helping to achieve that." "More needs to be done, but the progress made so far is very heartening." The figures show the total percentage of female directorships on ASX200 boards has more than doubled from 8.3 per cent at 1 January 2010 to 17.6 per cent by 14 February this year.

Women now hold 23.8 per cent of directorships in the ASX20, 21.4 per cent of directorships on the ASX50 and 20.5 per cent of directorships on the ASX100.

The number of ASX200 boards without any female directors has more than halved from 87 boards in June 2010 to 42 boards. There are now only five ASX100 boards and one ASX50 board without a female director - and none in the ASX20.

The percentage of females among appointments to ASX200 boards increased from 5 per cent in the calendar year 2009 to 22 per cent in 2013 and women have made up 39 per cent of new appointments to ASX 200 boards to date in 2014.

The number of female Chairs on ASX200 boards has also doubled from five (2.5 per cent of all Chairs) in 2010 to ten (5 per cent).

"This shift is the result of boards taking it upon themselves to redress the imbalance that exists. Directors in the ASX200 are saying: 'It's not good enough, we need to fix it and we are fixing it ourselves'." "We are confident this improvement will continue as more and more boards recognise the value of diversity and actively seek out female talent, without the imposition of mandated quotas or other new regulation," Mr Colvin said.

"The idea of mandated quotas for female representation on boards is wrong in principle, has difficulties in practice, is tokenistic and is counterproductive to the end goal of increasing board diversity." "We do not need quotas to achieve the aim of greater board diversity on which we all agree." Over the past four years, Company Directors has launched a range of initiatives aimed at achieving greater gender diversity on boards and to help remove blockages in the "pipeline" of women rising through the ranks of senior management.

It has encouraged companies and boards to establish a diversity policy in which clear goals, and measurable milestones towards achieving these goals, are articulated, consistent with the particular requirements of their organisation, nature of the business and the stage of development of the business.

"A number of concrete measures which we have put in place have contributed to the real progress which is evident in the latest figures," Mr Colvin said.

"These include our successful Chairmen's Mentoring Program, a world leading initiative now in its third year, the Board Ready program and our Board Diversity Scholarship programs, the first two of which have been in conjunction with the Federal Government." "Over a quarter of the female appointments over the past four years are past or current mentees in our Chairmen's Mentoring Program - and almost three quarters of the appointees are members of the Australian Institute of Company Directors." "A large number of participants in our scholarship programs have also gained directorships on listed company boards and in the not-for-profit and public sectors." Company Directors also took a leadership role in the development of the ASX Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations on Diversity which created new reporting guidelines on diversity.

It established a dedicated board diversity website to provide valuable diversity research and information, including publishing the only real-time diversity statistics on ASX200 female board appointments.

KEY FACTS The following key outcomes have been identified from analysis of our figures for female non-executive director appointments to ASX200 boards over the last four years: Board Appointments * Total percentage of female directorships on ASX200 boards more than doubled from 8.3 per cent at 1 January 2010 to 17.3 per cent at 1 January 2014.

* As at 14 February (the latest figures), this had risen further, with 17.6 per cent of directorships on the ASX200 occupied by women.

* As at 14 February, women held: * 23.8 per cent of directorships in the ASX20 * 21.4 per cent of directorships on the ASX50 * 20.5 per cent of directorships on the ASX100 * The number of ASX200 boards without any female directors has more than halved from 87 boards (in June 2010) to 42 boards.

* There are now only five ASX100 boards and one ASX50 board without a female director - and none in the ASX20.

* The percentage of females among new director appointments to ASX200 boards increased from 5 per cent in the calendar year 2009 to an average 22 per cent for the year ending 2013.

* Women have made up 39 per cent of new appointments to ASX200 boards to date in 2014 (as at 14 February 2014).

* The number of female Chairs on ASX 200 boards has doubled from five (2.5 per cent in 2010 to ten (5 per cent) as at 1 January 2014.

* At the time of their appointment, the majority of female appointees held no existing (60.4 per cent) and no past (84.9 per cent) ASX200 non-executive directorships.

Membership of Company Directors * Over a quarter of the female appointments are past or current Mentee participants in our Chairmen's Mentoring Program (27.1 per cent).

* A majority of the female appointees are Members of the Australian Institute of Company Directors 'MAICD' (70.3 per cent).

* Nearly half of the appointees are Fellows of the Australian Institute of Company Directors 'FAICD' (45.3 per cent).

How Company Directors Has Taken Action on Diversity Over the past four years, Company Directors has launched a range of initiatives aimed at achieving greater diversity on Australian boards. We have: * Established the Chairman's Mentoring Program - this program is currently in its third year and has involved ASX200 Chairmen and directors mentoring 202 highly talented female directors; * Introduced Board Diversity Scholarship Programs - the two programs so far, jointly funded with the Australian Government, have provided governance education for 140 highly talented women; * Launched the Victorian Women's Governance Scholarship Program -supported by the Victorian coalition government to provide governance education to women in the not-for-profit sector in Victoria; * Launched a Public Sector Mentoring Program - a targeted mentoring program for aspiring women in the public sector in the ACT; * Directly identified female candidates for board opportunities, as requested, and further developed our Directorship Opportunities on-line directorship listing site to enable greater transparency and access to all board vacancies; * Developed a comprehensive Board Ready Program to provide experiential governance education for highly talented senior executives reporting to the main board, sitting on or being considered for subsidiary or joint venture or government advisory boards or planning to transition to non-executive board roles; * Identified leading directors to champion the issue of board diversity and held a series of education events to raise awareness of the importance of diversity on boards, the poor representation of women on boards, the importance of an open and structured process to the appointment of directors, the importance of boards developing and adopting a diversity policy and reporting on the progress towards achieving greater diversity; * Launched Tomorrow's boards: Creating balanced and effective boards, the first Australian book to bring together key research on the positive correlation between diversity on boards and in management and improved corporate performance, as well as offering practical guidance on the process for selecting the best directors and the importance of considering diversity as part of the board selection process; * Taken a leadership role in the development of the of the ASX reporting guidelines on diversity; and * Established a dedicated board diversity website to provide valuable diversity research and information, including publishing the only real time diversity statistics on ASX200 female board appointments.

CC AutoTriage1pm-140308-30TagarumaMar-4660841 30TagarumaMar (c) 2014 Targeted News Service

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