On 31 July 2015, the AICD lodged a submission in response to the draft Australian Government Boards (Gender Balanced Representation) Bill 2015 (the Bill) that was introduced by Independent Senator Nick Xenophon.
In summary, our comments were as follows:
- The AICD has long called for more diversity, and particularly gender diversity, on boards of all organisations, including Government boards, however we do not agree that the percentage should be mandated by legislation
- We are strongly opposed to the introduction of quotas to achieve greater diversity on boards
- Quotas will act as a hard ceiling on female representation on boards
- The focus should be on maintaining the existing minimum target for Government boards and encouraging Government officials to consider what cultural issues need to be addressed to reach and maintain this target in a way that is sustainable
- We support the proposal under the Bill that disclosures be made regarding the percentage of women on Government boards for the most recent financial year as well as for the three previous years. Requiring disclosure of the gender representation on Government boards will support the attainment and maintenance of the current target
- We also support the introduction of an additional disclosure requirement if the existing target has not been reached over the last year on an “if not, why not” basis.
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