SPECIAL REPORT: The number of women serving on company boards is slowly one the rise, but it’s still rare to see a female take the chair, judging by Business News’s analysis of Western Australian company directors.
The number of women serving on company boards is slowly one the rise, but it’s still rare to see a female take the chair, judging by Business News’s analysis of Western Australian company directors.
The big end of town and blue chip boards are chaired by men, leaving the handful of female chairs to take on more challenging roles.
These include Diane Smith-Gander, who chairs contractor Broadspectrum.
That’s a job lots of people wouldn’t want, considering the controversy surrounding its work on offshore detention centres and the pressure from Spanish suitor Ferrovial.
The Water Corp believes it exercised due care in managing the sale, but its assurances have not satisfied Labor’s Dave Kelly, who has repeatedly alleged impropriety.
Former Liberal MLA Cheryl Edwardes has the distinction of chairing two listed companies, but both face challenges.
Samantha Tough is emerging as one of Perth’s most active company directors, as chair of unlisted engineering group Aerison and non-executive director at Synergy, Saracen Mineral Holdings, Strike Resources and UK-based contractor Cape.
Former Synergy chief executive Shirley E In't Veld, former Wesfarmers chief legal counsel Vicki Krause, and Brookfield Multiplex director Sharon Warburton have been taking on more board roles during the past year, but none as chair.
One woman who might break the mould is US-based Ann Pickard, who recently joined Woodside’s board as a non-executive director after completing a successful executive career at Shell.
Having already worked in Perth as Shell Australia chair, Ms Pickard is considered a contender to become Woodside’s next chair in 2017.
The incumbent is Perth’s most powerful company director, Michael Chaney.
Mr Chaney also has the rare distinction of being widely known and respected on the national stage, something very few Perth-based directors can claim.
Michael Smith’s recent career moves illustrate how life as a company director has its ups and downs.
His continuing roles include being principal at marketing consultancy Black House, and chairing family business Lionel Samson Sadleirs, and listed company Pioneer Credit.