The number of ASX 200 companies without a woman on the board of directors is shrinking.
Only 22 of Australia’s largest listed companies haven’t yet appointed a woman to the board, according to analysis by the powerful industry group the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).
They are: Australian Agricultural Company Ltd, Altium Ltd, Aveo Group, ARB Corporation, Austal Limited, Evolution Mining, Flexigroup, GWA Group Ltd, Independence Group, Karoon Gas, Mineral Resources Ltd, Monadelphous Ltd, Mesoblast, Mayne Pharma Group Ltd, National Storage REIT, Northern Star Resources, Qube Holdings, Regis Resources, Syrah Resources Ltd, TPG Telecom, Vocus Communications Ltd, Western Areas Ltd.
“For the first time, the number of ASX 200 companies where women make up at least 30% of their directors exceeds those boards with no women at all,” says council CEO Louise Davidson.
“This is a tipping point in board gender diversity, and follows the first anniversary of ACSI’s renewed push on the issue, when we called for 30% women on all Australian boards by 2017.”
So far in 2016, women represent slightly more than half of all appointments announced for ASX200 companies. That’s 19 out of 37, as this chart shows:
According to various studies, having more women on boards immediately makes those boards more productive.
And the presence of women on boards and in senior management is directly tied to company performance. Profitable firms that moved from no female leadership to 30% representation in upper management saw on average a 15% increase in net revenue margin.
Women now make up 22% of ASX 200 boards compared to 19% at the start of 2015, with large companies leading the way. Board members at ASX 50 companies are 27% women and only two companies in the ASX 100 still have no women on their boards.
Smaller companies are much slower to adjust, with boards of the ASX 201-300 having only 16% women.
In 2015, Australian Council of Superannuation Investors announced it would consider advising a vote against boards which hadn’t hit the target by the end of 2017.
However, the council says the pace of change is finally accelerating.
“This rise illustrates the fact that, despite the tired old excuses, there’s no shortage of appropriately skilled, experienced and talented women for directorships,” says Davidson.
“What’s also increasingly clear is that those companies without any women directors are not just out of touch with community expectations, they’re out of step with their business peers.
“Now that boards are getting the message, hopefully we will see a flow through impact to executive teams accessing the best possible talents by recruiting and promoting people from more diverse backgrounds.”
The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) has a target for ASX 200 boards to have 30% of their directors as female by 2018.
“There is an undeniable case for gender diversity on boards,” says AICD CEO John Brogden.
“It is not only the right thing to do but the smart thing to do, because it means better business performance. Numerous pieces of research demonstrate a positive link between the level of female representation on boards and improved corporate performance.”