A survey of directors’ concerns, released yesterday, has revealed a massive fall of interest in board diversity.
Last year, 63% of directors considered diversity a key priority, compared with just 13% this year, according to a report based on the survey, published by law firm, King & Wood Mallesons. Co-authors of the report, Meredith Paynter and Nicola Charlston, conjectured that this might be explained by companies feeling they have adequately addressed the issue.
Prominent director Elizabeth Proust told LeadingCompany that the result was “alarming”. Proust says: “If they think they have addressed the issue, they are deluded. It is an alarming drop. Perhaps it is a matter of the boys’ club fighting back. And does that mean they think people of different ages and backgrounds cannot make a contribution?”
The result comes as a top fund manager, the chair of Colonial First State, Anne Ward, called for quotas for female directors, according to The Australian Financial Review. Last month, the Fin reported another experienced fund manager, Peter Hunt, called for legally enforceable quotas.