Female board members on the rise

02_Female board members on the rise

By Angelo Risso
(Australian Associated Press)

The number of women in leading positions at Australia’s top companies has not changed in five years despite modest improvements in female board representation.

Research by advisory firm KPMG found 22 per cent of board members at the top 200 companies on the share market in 2015 were female, up from 18 per cent in 2013.

The percentage of women in senior management roles, however, has not improved since 2011.

Among the market’s top 100 companies, five per cent have a female chief executive, deputy CEO or chief operating officer, as they did five years ago.

The proportion with a female chief financial officer has slipped from eight per cent to six per cent in that period.

Female representation has improved in HR, general counsel and marketing roles, while there has also been a notable improvement in women in senior IT roles, up from 19 per cent to 29 per cent.

KPMG partner Ben Travers said most companies now have a clear diversity policy, but defined goals appear to deliver the best results.

“Publicly committing to quantifiable objectives really does drive good diversity outcomes,” he said.

“It is to be expected that the proportion of women at senior executive level may take longer to emerge … but the slow pace of change in female representation in these roles over the past four years highlights the need for companies to rethink their strategy.”

Gender balance on the boards of mid-sized listed companies has also improved, with the proportion of female representation at companies ranked 201 to 500 lifting from 10 per cent in 2013 to 15 per cent in 2015.

But smaller firms, those outside the top 500, had just six per cent female representation, and more than three quarters had no women on the board.


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