Taking the next steps

Wednesday, 01 September 2021


    Australia has made rare progress on increasing the proportion of women directors in listed boardrooms. New research says the target needs to be 40:40:20.

    Australia is one of just three countries in the world to have exceeded 30 per cent women on top listed company boards without mandated quotas. A report from the University of Queensland Business School, Towards Board Gender Parity: Lessons from the past, directions for the future, examined the key moments, bodies and individuals who were central to the 30% campaign and looks ahead to how Australia might achieve board parity in the future. The report was supported by the AICD and the Australian Gender Equality Council (AGEC).

    Australia increased the proportion of women on top listed boards from just 8.3 per cent in 2009 to 33.6 per cent as at 30 June 2021. While researchers identified a number of direct and indirect influencers, it highlighted two significant milestones from 2009 as critical in driving change over the decade that followed — the ASX Corporate Governance Council Recommendations in relation to reporting on diversity; and the implementation of the AICD Chair’s Mentoring Program.

    The AICD program was the first of its kind globally and has been the catalyst for similar programs globally. Much of the early movement in the numbers of women on ASX 200 boards can be attributed to appointments made in ASX 50 boardrooms. Mentees from the AICD program accounted for nearly half of the 21 chair positions held by women in the ASX 200 in 2021.

    33.6% - the proportion of women on top listed boards at 30 June 2021.

    Source: Towards Board Gender Parity: Lessons from the past, directions for the future
    Queensland Business School

    Lifting our game

    Australia lags behind most of the Western world on statistics surrounding workplace gender equality. Our ranking in the World Economic Forums’ annual Global Gender Gap Report has slipped from 15th in the world in 2006 to 50th in 2021. Our nearest neighbour, New Zealand, currently ranks fourth.

    The report’s lead researcher, UQ Business School senior lecturer in leadership Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons, said the results are a step in the right direction for gender parity in corporate roles. “Our research reveals a truly encouraging result, that Australia is leading progress for women on boards at an international level despite the challenges women still face to achieve gender parity, especially in the corporate landscape.”

    AGEC chair Coral Ross AM said the report provides valuable insights as we work towards gender parity at the board level and in other facets of Australian society. “It’s often said you have to know where you have been to know where you are going. By examining how we got to where we are, this report recommends a way forward to reach gender parity in the boardroom.”

    Report recommendations

    The focus is on continued momentum. Recommendations include the need for a national workplace gender equality strategy — adopting a 40:40:20 model (40 per cent men, 40 per cent women, 20 per cent any gender) — and a formal alliance of the bodies that helped drive the campaign over the past decade.

    The report also identifies some of the potential risks to future progress on gender diversity including the shrinking pipeline of women into CEO and senior executive roles, which is generally where board members are drawn from, as well as childcare and the unequal burden of domestic responsibility. A further barrier is the current composition of the board skills matrix, which favours CEO or senior executive line role experience for most board role positions.

    Climate governance initiative Australia

    Helping boards come to grips with the global governance response to climate change risk.

    On 26 August, the AICD launched the Australian Chapter of the Climate Governance Initiative (CGI), known as the Climate Governance Initiative Australia (CGIA), at a complimentary, member-only event. The CGIA will support members in navigating the challenges of governing climate change risk.

    Now a standing item on many board agendas, climate change is a material risk to the organisations of over half of the respondents to the latest Director Sentiment Index conducted by the AICD. Hosting CGIA will allow AICD members to access a global network of experts in risk and resilience, and connect the members with non-executive directors who are leading their organisations’ governance response to climate change.

    The CGI comprises a rapidly growing network of over 20 global bodies that promote the World Economic Forum, and it seeks to equip directors with the skills to address climate change at the board level. The CGIA event featured Australian and international directors discussing how boards are grappling with climate change governance.

    AICD has released a practical governance guide on climate change for directors, written in conjunction with Sarah Barker — MinterEllison partner and head of climate risk governance — which focuses on how directors can start and continue on their climate governance journey.

    Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021

    The AICD congratulates members recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours on 14 June 2021.


    PSM Shane Carmody GAICD

    AM Alan Clements AAICD

    AM Harriet Elvin FAICD

    PSM Rebecca Skinner GAICD

    OAM Hannah Wandel AAICD


    AM Dr Annette Carruthers FAICD

    AM Dr Leon Clark FAICD

    AM Robert Estcourt GAICD

    AM Nancy Fox FAICD

    OAM Lincoln Hart FAICD

    OAM Frances Maguire GAICD

    OAM Bruno Maurel GAICD

    AM Helen Scott-Orr FAICD

    AFSM Murray West MAICD

    OAM Morri Young MAICD

    AM Joseph Carrozzi MAICD

    AM Kerry Chikarovski MAICD

    OAM Professor Brin Grenyer MAICD

    AO Cameron Kerr GAICD

    OAM Susan Murray GAICD

    OAM David Rickards MAICD

    OAM Gino Vumbaca MAICD

    PSM Leanne Barnes GAICD

    AM Timothy Brown GAICD

    AM Professor Toni Makkai GAICD

    CSC Robert Watson GAICD

    AM Dr Bronwyn Evans GAICD

    OAM Leanne Heywood GAICD

    OAM Alan Manly FAICD

    CSC Benjamin Sleeman MAICD

    AM Karim Sumar MAICD

    OAM Belinda Tallis GAICD

    OAM Dr Jan Dudley GAICD

    PSM Joanne Edwards GAICD

    ESM Peter Kaye FAICD

    OAM Sandra Lambkin GAICD

    OAM Peter Meurer FAICD

    AM Andrew Papadopoulos MAICD

    AO Douglas Snedden MAICD


    OAM Tony Burns GAICD

    AM Roland Chin MAICD

    OAM Marie Louise Pearson GAICD


    OAM Dr Amanda Dines MAICD

    AM Professor Sabina Knight GAICD

    OAM Gregory Russell MAICD

    OAM Alison Sherry MAICD

    AM Peter Turnbull FAICD

    AM Professor Claire Jackson FAICD

    OAM Dr Sarah Kelly MAICD

    OAM Dr David Rowlands FAICD

    AM Dr Charles Steadman FAICD

    AO Gerard Bradley FAICD

    AM Christine McLoughlin FAICD

    PSM Annette Scott GAICD


    AM John Crosby MAICD

    OAM Sam Johnson MAICD

    AM Lolita Mohyla FAICD

    OAM John Mula GAICD


    AM Howard Blake GAICD


    AM Elizabeth Clarke MAICD

    OAM Janet Jukes GAICD

    AO Janine Kirk MAICD

    AM Craig Phillips MAICD

    AM Mark Birrell FAICD

    AM Dr Heather Mack GAICD

    AM Helen Maxwell Wright FAICD

    AM Maree McCabe GAICD

    OAM James Ostroburski MAICD

    AM Coral Ross FAICD

    OAM Liberty Sanger GAICD

    AM Dr Gillian Sparkes FAICD

    OAM Dr Rosemary Brooks FAICD

    AM Dr Jennifer Fitzgerald FAICD

    OAM Rosanne King GAICD

    AM Julie Oberin MAICD

    OAM Richard Owen GAICD

    AM Elana Rubin FAICD

    OAM Dr Teresa De Fazio MAICD

    AM Angela Emslie MAICD

    AM David Gibbs FAICD

    OAM Owen Hegarty FAICD

    OAM Jennifer Leaper MAICD

    OAM Dr Richard Leaper FAICD

    AM Graeme Sinclair FAICD

    OAM Faye Spiteri MAICD


    AM Julie Shuttleworth GAICD

    PSM Kaylene Gulich GAICD

    AO Dr Vanessa Guthrie MAICD

    AO Warwick Hemsley FAICD

    AM Dr Andrew Lu MAICD

    AM Danny Murphy MAICD

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