While great strides have been made to increase gender diversity in the boardroom, women still remain under-represented in senior leadership and executive pipelines. A group of leading chairs and CEOs share their approach to achieving gender balance in their organisations, the progress they have made and why their relationship is critical to diversity success.
Boards for Balance: Your Leadership Shadow, was launched earlier this month at events in Sydney and Melbourne. The initiative is the culmination of a year’s work by Chief Executive Women (CEW), the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
Boards for Balance is a new online resource, designed to assist chairs, non-executive directors and CEOs in taking a leadership role in progressing gender balance throughout their organisations. It provides a blueprint for the kinds of questions boards should be asking, and the actions they should be taking towards ensuring an increase in female representation in the executive pipeline.
At the launch events, a new video produced by CEW and AICD featuring highly-regarded chairs and CEOs of some of Australia’s leading listed companies was shown to audiences. In it, they discuss gender diversity and its importance to their organisations.
On leading by example
David Gonski AC FAICDLife, Chairman of ANZ Banking Group
“I think gender diversity on the board is vital. You can’t talk about something unless you walk that talk, and I think it is almost impossible to say to an organisation ‘do this, but I’m not going to do it myself’. So we as a board have to set an example.”
On board-management transparency
David Crawford AO FAICD, Chairman of Lendlease
“We believe in inclusive leadership. We have a very inclusive board and inclusive management team. All the direct reports to the CEO participate in all of the board meetings and we have a very free, frank and open discussion amongst us all.”
On positive board influence
Scott Charlton, CEO of Transurban
“I think the important thing with the board is its leadership internally and externally. A lot of our board members participate in programs internally, and those mentoring women are both female and male. They also take leadership positions outside in the wider community which really shows that the board is leading and that it’s not just something that management sees as important.”
On aligning board and management objectives
Peter Allen MAICD, CEO of Scentre Group
“I work very closely with the board. As the CEO of an organisation it is very important that we have a shared sense of what our objectives are. These are set out as part of my KPIs and part of the discussions we have through board meetings, and is also very important to the relationship I have with my chairman.”
On getting your organisation behind the case for change
Shayne Elliott MAICD, CEO of ANZ Banking Group
“People will embrace change and support it when they understand why it is we’re changing. The change has to be made. I think it is reasonably easy when you can make it tie back to your business strategy. That this [gender balance] is an essential ingredient to how we are going to win in the marketplace, and then people will embrace that change.”
On gender diversity targets
Peter Allen MAICD, CEO of Scentre Group
“We use targets for everything we do. Our financial metrics have targets, our operational metrics have targets, so it makes common sense that we have targets as far as gender diversity is concerned. When we look at the interviewing panels that we have, [we ask] ‘who do we have on those panels’. We make sure we have equal male-female representation on those panels.”
On introducing incentives
Brian Schwartz AM FAICD, Chairman of Scentre Group
“Our management KPIs are linked to the performance of gender targets and non-performance means a reduction in remuneration and short-term incentives.”
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