ASX200: Where are the women going to come from?

When it comes to the ASX100, there has been progress on gender diversity, but the progress isn’t seeping to the boards of mid-sized listed companies.

Of the ASX100 companies, 93 have women on their boards, according to a report released today by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors’ into the pay and gender diversity of corporate boards.

But of the 88 additional companies surveyed, which are in the ASX 200, just 41 have women directors, or 47%.

Corporate governance firm Ownership Matters surveyed the ASX200 for ACSI. The figures are for calendar year 2011.

Among the ASX100, 17.7% of board positions were held by women. Of new appointments, 15.4% were women.

Such figures are nothing to write home about, but they do present consistent progress since ACSI started crunching the numbers in 2000. Back then, only 8.3% of board seats were held by women, while women comprised 7.2% of new appointments.

Only seven companies in the top 100 do not have any women on their boards. The number is down from 21 last year.

However, when 88 of the next 100 companies by market capitalisation are considered, progress is lagging. Women comprised 8.5% of new appointments, and held 9% of board seats – figures similar to those seen in the ASX100 more than a decade ago.

The increase of women on corporate boards has been demonstrated to improve financial performance in multiple reports and studies. This means the improved gender diversity on our most important boards is a good thing.

But the boards of mid-sized listed companies are a pipeline of talent to the boards of our largest listed companies. Unless mid-market companies improve the diversity of their boards, tomorrow’s progress may stall.


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