Women Getting into Boards Report 2009

The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (ACLW) in 2009 conducted an online survey in 2009 about the difficulties women face getting into boards.  317  women participated in the survey, with 92% being Australian.  

The findings reveal key insights into why there are so few women on boards and the effectiveness of resources to enable women’s access into boards. A number of recommendations are made for workplaces, government and boards to undertake to assist women achieve board position.

This Report was widely featured in the Australian media when released. Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick supported this Report through a media release.  In 2009 the Australian Securities Exchange Corporate Governance Council made an announcement about gender diversity measures which was a major turning point for women. 

Executive Summary of Women Getting into Boards Report

As the implementation of quotas is being debated in the community to ensure a gender balance in board composition, it is clear that we have reached the point where stricter measures are being considered to effect change of the size and scope needed. The Australian Centre for Leadership for Women (CLW)  released its findings on 22 September 2009 based on a survey of 317 women, 93% of whom were Australian, on the difficulties women experience getting into boards.   

The Women Getting into Boards Report by Dr Diann Rodgers-Healey, Founder of CLW indicates that from women’s observations and insights about how to successfully achieve a board position, particularly in the private sector, it can be surmised that one ideally needs to:

  • be the right gender: male
  • have the right friends: corporate board members, high profile influential contacts
  • have the right experience:  have corporate board experience, financial or business experience; be financially independent in a full-time paid position
  • have the right skills set: financial, legal, management, leadership
  • have the right qualification: tertiary degree in finance, law, management
  • be of the right age: as skills set comes with considerable experience, being a young achiever is problematic
  • be in urban areas not rural
  • not be an immigrant or refugee

Women state that the recruitment process of boards predominantly is inequitable as it lacks transparency, clearly defined and realistic criteria and is advertised to a selective group.   Women do not have the opportunity to apply because they do not know which boards have vacancies. When they do apply, they are judged against criteria which are discriminatory and attitudes which rate their achievements and experiences as unimportant and un-transferable.  

This study reveals why women want to join boards? Which resources do they access and consider most effective? What can workplaces and the Government do to assist them in their board membership aspirations.  The findings of this study will apply to women, workplaces, government and most significantly to boards. Board members will gain an insight into the perceptions women have of how boards operate and how boards could benefit by adopting their suggestions without them being imposed on them.

Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick – Women Getting into Boards

Need for strong action to progress gender equality in business made clear by report (Tuesday, 22 September 2009)

Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick today congratulated the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women on the release of their Women Getting Into Boards Report 2009, released today.

The report is the result of a 2009 online survey of 317 women about the difficulties that women face when trying to get onto boards.

“As I have said in the past, the number of women on company boards in this country is significantly behind that of other countries such as the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa, Canada and New Zealand, a statistic that highlights the difficulties faced by Australian women who wish to climb the corporate ladder here,” Commissioner Broderick said.

“This report, which looks at the difficulties women face in getting onto boards in the first place, reinforces the additional barriers that women face in the corporate world in Australia,” Commissioner Broderick said.

The Women Getting Into Boards Report 2009 findings indicate that the recruitment processes for boards are predominantly inequitable because they lack transparency, lack clearly defined and realistic criteria and are only advertised to a select group of people.

Commissioner Broderick agreed , as the report says, that government intervention is required if we are to see results.

“The Report calls for Government to set the example by having more women on public boards and setting incentives for private boards to follow suit, including making boards more accountable for outcomes achieved and putting in place quotas for gender balance,” the Commissioner said. “We need to seriously consider all these options if we are to finally make real progress.”

“The report once again makes it clear that we simply must investigate and improve this situation so that future generations of women can approach their careers with the same confidence as their male counterparts,” said Ms Broderick.

The Women Getting Into Boards report 2009 is available online at the Australian Centre for Leadership for Women website at: aclw.org

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529

Source: http://www.hreoc.gov.au/about/media/media_releases/2009/90_09.html

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