23/04/2019 - 15:49

Fall in female directors

23/04/2019 - 15:49

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The proportion of women on the boards of ASX200 companies has fallen for the first time in four years, putting a dent in the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ 30 per cent gender diversity target.

Fall in female directors
Elizabeth Gaines is one of just 10 female chief executives of ASX200 companies.

The proportion of women on the boards of ASX200 companies has fallen for the first time in four years, putting a dent in the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ 30 per cent gender diversity target.

Female directors accounted for 29.5 per cent of all ASX200 board positions at 31 March 2019, down slightly from 29.7 per cent at the end of last year.

More significantly, the year-to-date appointment rate for women was just 23 per cent, whereas in 2018, 45 per cent of all appointments to ASX200 boards were women.

AICD managing director Angus Armour said the results were disappointing.

“At the beginning of this year we expected to achieve our 30 per cent target imminently, but unfortunately the overall percentage has fallen since the start of this year” he said.

“I challenge all boards to look around their boardroom and ask if there is sufficient diversity of skills, experience and gender to effectively meet the demands of a challenging governance landscape.”

The proportion of women on ASX200 boards has increased by about ten percentage points since 2015, when the AICD called for companies to achieve 30 per cent female representation on their boards by the conclusion of 2018.

The latest data shows there are four companies with no women on their boards, including Perth-based Emeco Holdings.

The data also shows 50 companies only have one female board member.   

This includes a dozen Perth-based companies, such as Regis Resources, Monadelphous Group, Western Areas and Ausdrill.

“Far too many companies appear to think that diversity stops after the appointment of one woman, said Mr Armour.

“Diverse boards help prevent group-think, leading to better outcomes for shareholders, consumers, employees and the community.

“They promote greater innovation and improved bottom lines.”

Among WA companies, Fortescue Metals Group has the highest female representation on its board; it has five female directors, or 55 per cent of the total, and is one of just 10 ASX200 companies to have a female chief executive, Elizabeth Gaines.

Navitas has three female directors (50 per cent) and is one of only 14 ASX200 companies to have a female chair, Tracey Horton.

The only other WA companies to have reached or exceeded the 30 per cent target are Wesfarmers, South32, Resolute Mining and Woodside Petroleum.

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