Two in five board members must be female, Matt Kean tells Treasury corporations

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NSW Treasurer Matt Kean wants more women on boards ASAP. Source: AAP/Joel Carrett.

Sydney Water and Essential Energy are among a slew of corporations put on notice about getting more women into top roles faster after NSW Treasurer Matt Kean set formal gender diversity targets for state-owned and public financial corporations.

From Monday, 40% of board director positions must be female in both state-owned corporation (SOC) boards and public financial corporation (PFC) boards, Kean has confirmed, or 50% female when combined.

The state’s PFCs include insurer icare and the NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) while NSW’s SOCs are Essential Energy, Sydney Water, Hunter Water, Landcom, Water NSW, Port Authority of NSW, Forestry Corporation of NSW and the Transport Asset Holding Entity of NSW (TAHE).

The NSW government is aiming to meet the target SOC individual boards by December — and as soon as “practical thereafter” for PFCs — with gender diversity tracking to be released yearly.

Minister for Women Bronnie Taylor says some boards have already risen to the challenge — 40% of the 81 SOC and PFC board positions are female.

“NSW’s state-owned corporations stretch across the energy, water, ports, transport and forestry sectors and these targets will see more diverse views represented,” Taylor said.

“Increasing the number of women on our public financial corporation boards will bring a greater range of perspectives to insurance, lending and investment management, ultimately helping women gain greater financial independence and security.”

Kean says he hopes the gender diversity targets will inspire the wider business community to get more female representation into high places, continuing it’s not only good for women, but also makes good business sense.

“Highly-credentialled women across NSW will bring their talent and expertise to these boards to provide insights and make decisions that reflect the broader gender mix of NSW,” Kean says.

It comes after Kean publically scolded Tabcorp, Boral, Premier Investments, and Goodman Group in an address where he urged publicly-listed companies to get more women on their boards.

He says — as of November 20, 2021 — women represented just 29% of board members for companies on the ASX, meaning there’s double the number of men in the room compared to women.

“The time for talk is over. Women make up half our population and should make up half our boardrooms,” Kean says.

“I’m calling on listed companies to set KPIs, be transparent and take proactive steps to increase female leadership across their organisation.”

Kean’s comments come as he prepares for his first budget in June, which will be shaped around women — including upping the number of females in leadership positions across the state.

To this end, he appointed a women’s economic expert panel, saying the role of females will be key to NSW’s pandemic recovery.

As part of its landmark review, the panel will look at policies to narrow the gender pay gap and make childcare more accessible and affordable.

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