Gender progress stalls at ASX200 firms

Australia’s biggest listed companies have been appointing fewer women to their boards so far in 2019.

Women accounted for 29.7 per cent of ASX200 board positions at the end of last year, but the Australian Institute of Company Directors said Tuesday just 23 per cent of appointments in the subsequent three months were female.

That has dropped the overall board representation to 29.5 per cent, disappointing the AICD in its aim to surpass 30 per cent.

“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,” AICD managing director and chief executive Angus Armour 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.”

Australia last year looked to be on course to become the first country to fill 30 per cent of board positions with women without recourse to regulation or quotas, an achievement the AICD said in January should be seen as “the floor and not the ceiling”.

Four companies – portfolio manager HUB24, parts manufacturer ARB Corp, earthmoving rental firm Emeco and TPG Telecom – had no women on their boards at March 31, while 50 companies had only one female board member.

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

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

AAP

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