'Lost momentum': The number of women on Australian boards has tumbled

New research shows some of Australia's largest companies have "lost momentum" in appointing women to board positions, while the number of male-only boards increased.

Federal government statistics suggest more women than ever are now operating small businesses in Australia.

The number of women on the boards of Australia’s largest companies has tumbled, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors’ latest report on gender diversity.

The AICD’s latest Gender Diversity Quarterly Report shows women represent 29.5 per cent of directors on the ASX 200 boards, by the end of September 2019. This is down from 29.7 per cent in July 2019.

ASX200 companies are being urged to do more to increase gender diversity in the boardroom.
Source: Getty Images

The rate of women being appointed to boards has also fallen from 45 per cent in 2018, down to 31.7 per cent in 2019.

The report shows there are seven companies on ASX 200 board with no women on their boards were, as of 30 September.

Those companies include:

  • TPG Telecom Limited
  • HUB24 Limited
  • NRW Holdings Limited
  • Pro Medicus Limited
  • Polynovo Limited
  • Silver Lake Resources Limited
  • Speedcast International Limited

AICD managing director Angus Armour said these results should serve as a wake-up call to directors, investors and shareholders across the ASX 200.

“Australia is not lacking for talented and experienced women, and the profile of female directors being appointed to their first ASX 200 boards over the past two years is evidence of this,” he said.

“Boards struggling with gender diversity must challenge themselves and make commitments to do better.

"They should reflect on whether their search processes are effective and competitive enough to access the large talent pool of female directors in Australia, including whether their recruitment firms are helping them to eliminate any bias and to identify a diverse pool of candidates.”

AICD's chief said these results should serve as a wake-up call to directors, investors and shareholders across the ASX 200.
Source: Getty Images

The number of male-only boards in the ASX 200 also increased this year to seven.

Chair of the Australian Chapter for The 30% Club, Nicola Wakefield-Evans, said the results were damning.

“Just 16.6 per cent of new directors appointed to these boards were women, clearly Australia has a long way to go," she said.

The 30% Club launched as a campaign in the UK in 2010, with chairs and CEOs pushing for an increase in gender diversity on boards and senior management teams.

It launched in 2015 with the primary objective of campaigning for 30 per cent women on ASX 200 boards by the end 2018.

“We need to ensure that from when companies list, the boards comprise of at least 30 per cent female directors," Wakefield-Evans said. 

Published 31 October 2019 at 8:38am, updated 31 October 2019 at 10:58am