Medibank Private, Mirvac Group, DUET Group, Spark Infrastructure and Woolworths are among the top ASX 100 companies for appointing women to boards, a new report says.
Some of the worst in the same index include TPG Telecom and Qube Holdings, with no female board members. Westfield had one woman on its board out of 12 spots and Oil Search has one out of nine, the Catalyst think tank report released on Tuesday shows.
“Empowerment of the world’s women is a global imperative,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the 2016 World Economic Forum. Although the worldwide trend to promote equal opportunities has also impacted Australia, progress in the corporate world is slow and a change in pace is required. Improving disclosures is a good place to start.
In 2010, the ASX Corporate Governance Council made several amendments to its Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations. The most prominent change was that companies should publicly disclose the number of female directors, senior managers and total number of women in the workforce, as well as progress against diversity objectives established by the board.
New research by Catalyst Australia finds that ASX50 listed companies – Australia’s largest companies and industry leaders – tick all the gender reporting boxes. But while some progress is made concerning women on boards, facilitating the career advancement of women into executive positions remains a problem area.
Likewise, while ASX50 companies do refer to pay equity, our research finds their disclosures are limited and often do not include figures for management or the workforce.
Leading up to International Women’s Day, European Union (EU) justice commissioner Viviane Reding announced that she is considering enforcing a quota to break the glass ceiling and increase the participation of women in the boardrooms of European companies. This suggestion has stirred debate about the possible downsides of such a quota, especially in comparison with voluntary targets that aim to increase gender equality in European big business.
Sexist objections include platitudes such as the board meeting having to end at three o’clock because the CEO must pick up the children from school, half of the board of directors having synchronised menstrual cycles causing the top of the company to be instable, and CFO’s only being available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Obviously, there are also serious objections to the quota. Hypothetically, a quota could mean that women that are insufficiently qualified will become members of boards, merely to meet the numbers prescribed by the European Union. This would not only make these women token board members, but it would also mean that a potentially sufficiently qualified male would be denied a job that he would be more suitable for. And would an emancipated woman really want a job that has been created thanks to a job quota? Wouldn’t she be regarded as merely having made it into the board room due to EU regulation? Continue reading Smashing the Glass Ceiling: Getting Women into European Boardrooms→