Ten more ASX200 companies have reached the target of having 30% of their board positions filled by women, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).
Currently, women hold 32.1% of ASX300 board positions, an increase of 2 percent in the last year, according to the AICD.
Overall, 113 ASX 200 companies have reached 30%, while 87 companies have not yet done so. The report also found that 76 of those boards are just one female appointment away from reaching 30%.
"It is encouraging to see that the ASX 300 is very close to reaching 30% women on boards," said Nicola Wakefield Evans, 30% Club Australia chair. "We will continue to target those companies on the ASX who fail to recognise not only the obvious benefits of board diversity, but the risks to reputation and performance for those who lag behind."
AICD said there were two companies on ASX 200 with no women on their boards as at 31 October 2020 - Silver Lake Resources Limited and Perseus Mining Limited. However, the report noted Perseus Mining lost a female director in September but says it has commenced a search for two female directors.
"Now, more than ever, the diversity of leadership roles is critical to ensure an effective post-COVID recovery," said Angus Armour, AICD CEO and managing director. "This continuing upward trend indicates that the message about diversity is being heard. I am confident that we will see the ASX300 reach the aggregate target in the very near future.
"We are calling on all companies who have not yet made active steps towards gender-balance in their leadership to consider the full pool of board-ready candidates for their next appointment."
The ASX 300 has also seen steady progress this year, increasing 2% since October 2019, to 29.6% this month.
However, the AICD pointed out that ASX 200 companies are lagging in increasing women in senior leadership roles. Citing the recent ASX 200 Senior Executive Census by Chief Executive Women survey, ACID noted that in 2020, only 5% of ASX 200 CEOs are women, and nearly two-thirds of ASX 200 companies have no women in their talent pipeline.
AICD further highlights that many senior women are in areas such as human resources or marketing, and not in line roles with profit and loss responsibility, roles that typically lead to promotion to CEO levels.
Recent research conducted by EY and the 30% Club revealed that "despite the clear dividing line between management and governance, the most important and desirable experience for ASX 200 boards is senior executive experience, in particular line roles with significant profit and loss (P&L) responsibility". In 2019, only four percent of ASX 200 companies had gender balance in their line roles.
The report noted that the 30% Club Australia will expand its focus to support the pipeline of female CEOs as a critical pathway to the board.
The 30% Club Australia has engaged colleagues at Chief Executive Women and Male Champions of Change to consider ways to work as a coalition to better support that pipeline.
"The 30% Club will also continue the exchange of information and knowledge with its international counterparts to investigate ways in which other countries have been able to shift the dial at the executive level," the report said.