Women near parity in 2021 board appointments: AICD

Women made up nearly half of listed ASX board appointments thus far in 2021, according to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

In January and February of this year, women accounted for 46.7% of ASX 200 board appointments and 52.3% of ASX 300 board appointments.

Since December 2020, ten more companies in the ASX 200 have reached the 30% threshold, meaning that women make up at least 30% of the board at 123 companies.

There were two companies on the ASX 200 with no women on their boards as at 28 February 2021 - Silver Lake Resources Limited and Kogan.com Ltd. However, AICD noted that Kogan.Com have announced the appointment of Janine Allis commencing 1 April 2021.

"As we head into 2021 the appointment rate for women on boards is nearing parity," said Louise Petschler, AICD general manager of advocacy. "This is where we need it to stay to maintain the momentum on board gender diversity that we have seen over the past few years."

Over the last 10 years the appointment rate of women on ASX 200 boards has climbed steadily from 28% in 2011 to 42.6% cent in 2020, AICD noted. Women now occupy 32.9% of ASX 200 board positions and 30.8% of ASX 300 positions, as at 28 February 2021.

A further 24 ASX200 companies only have one woman on board. There are currently 22 women chairs of ASX200 companies.

"We know that a shortage of qualified, board-ready women has never been the problem," said Nicola Wakefield Evans, 30% Club Australia chair. "One of the most significant barriers to women's progression to boards has been unconscious bias in recruitment practices and a tendency to rely on personal networks.

"At this point, we should be expecting women to be appointed at the same rate as men."

AICD noted that there are still more than a third of boards in the ASX 200 that have not yet reached the minimum standard of 30% women on their boards.

AICD explained that the 30% threshold is important as a tipping point for gender diversity on boards, and the AICD continues to track the performance of our largest companies against this target. AICD overall backs a board diversity model of 40:40:20 - at least 40% women directors and 40% men directors, with flexibility over the remaining 20% of seats.

AICD's research shows that 24 companies in the ASX300 have a minimum of 40% women on their boards as of the end of February.

"It's an important time for visible leadership on gender equality in this country," Petschler said. "Women need to be participating in all decision-making forums, including corporate Australia."

Read more: AICDAustralian Institute of Company Directors30% Club AustraliaLouise PetschlerKogan.com Ltd.Nicola Wakefield EvansSilver Lake Resources Limited