Woodside Petroleum chairman Michael Chaney has set himself an ambitious goal, telling shareholders he wants to more than double the number of women on the company’s board over the next two years.
Responding to a question from a shareholder regarding the lack of women on Woodside’s board, Mr Chaney said the company currently had two female directors – Melinda Cilento, who was re-elected today, and Sarah Ryan.
With 10 directors in total, that puts Woodside in line with many other large companies in Australia.
However, it falls short of the gender target set this month by the Australian Institute of Company Directors, which wants women to fill 30 per cent of board positions on S&P/ASX 200 companies within three years.
Mr Chaney, who is due to retire as chairman in two years, went one better today.
“I’d like to have 50 per cent by the time I retire,” Mr Chaney told shareholders at the company's annual meeting today.
As Business News reported last week, only four out of Western Australia's top 20 companies - Wesfarmers, Fortescue Metals Group, Navitas and Liquefied Natural Gas - currently meet the AICD’s 30 per cent target.
Among the 20 WA companies in the S&P/ASX 200 index, women fill 23 out of 146 board positions - or 15.7 per cent of the total.
Nationally, the AICD said women filled 20 per cent of board positions in the country's major companies, and that there needed to be changes in how they recruited directors to lift that number.
This could mean selecting people who haven't previously been executives, setting up mentoring programs for women, and improving childcare.
The proportion of female directors at ASX 200 companies jumped from 8 per cent in 2009 to 20 per cent by 2014,