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Raising the bar: more women on boards

Women are being appointed to boards in unprecedented numbers, as the ASX's corporate governance recommendations on gender diversity kick in.

Women are being appointed to boards in unprecedented numbers, as the ASX's corporate governance recommendations on gender diversity kick in.

WOMEN are being appointed to boards at unprecedented levels, as the Australian Securities and Stock Exchange's corporate governance recommendations on gender diversity kick in this financial year.

A report to be released today by the Australian Institute of Company Directors reveals that so far this year, women accounted for nearly 30 per cent of all new board appointments in ASX 200 companies, a 600 per cent increase on 2009 when women accounted for 7.5 per cent of appointments.

The data has been gathered by the report's author, senior policy adviser Anthea McIntyre, who has monitored ASX board and director announcements. While the issue is one of cultural change in managerial, executive and board recruitment, the available data is sparse.

''I can't tell you if there's been any movement in executive ranks, which is more critical,'' Ms McIntyre said, as boards look to executive ranks to fill board positions.

''I can tell you we've had fantastic progress at the boardroom level ? in fact [it's] unprecedented around the world to have this change in the absence of quotas.''

The institute points to the success of its chairmen's mentoring program, in which 80 leaders including John Schubert, John Morschel, Don Argus and Ziggy Switkowski have mentored and recruited from the ranks of women in the program.

Appointments include Ilana Atlas, (mentored by David Gonski) to the boards of Coca-Cola Amatil and Suncorp; Jacqueline Hey to Bendigo and Adelaide Bank; and Fiona Balfour (mentored by Bob Savage of David Jones) adding Tower Australia Group to her existing appointments. Michelle Tredenick was recruited to the Bank of Queensland board by her mentor, the bank's chairman Neil Summerson, and Nancy Milne, mentored by Caltex chairwoman Elizabeth Bryan, was appointed to Australand Property Group

Ms McIntyre said women comprised 4 per cent of line managers, 8 per cent of senior executives and 12.7 per cent of directors of Australia's top 200 companies. ''This has raised questions as to whether companies and boards are in practice recruiting ? solely on skills, experience and performance, without a gender bias.''


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