While there has been some progress in achieving equality in the corporate world there are still ongoing concerns about the under-representation of women in leadership and good intentions are only achieving slow progress.
Iceland is not only an exciting holiday destination, it is also the best country for women to live and work, according to the World Economic Forum (WEF). The WEF report, Global Gender Gap 2017, tracks gender disparities among 144 countries and reveals that Iceland remains the world’s most gender-equal country, with New Zealand ninth and, disappointingly, Australia all the way down at 35th. The report also finds that gender parity has declined globally this year for the first time since tracking began in 2006. Despite qualified women coming out of education systems, many industries continue to fail to hire, retain and promote them. Klaus Schwab, Executive Chairman of WEF, stated, “As the world moves from capitalism into the era of talentism … the integration of women into the talent pool becomes a must. When women and girls are not integrated … the global community loses out on skills, ideas and perspectives.”
Chairman of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), Elizabeth Proust, said: “The research is clear: gender diversity on boards is not just common sense, it is also good business sense.” It sure is, but what are they doing about it?
AICD’s goal is to increase the number of women on the boards of the top 200 companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX 200) to 30 percent by the end of 2018. Efforts to improve gender diversity within this male-dominated area are slowly working – the percentage of female directors is up from 8 percent in 2009 to 25 percent in 2017. “There are 64 boards that have only one female director – one female director does not equal gender diversity,” said Ms Proust. “Considering the business case for diversity, the fact there are still 11 ASX 200 boards with no women is astounding.”
Flight Centre Travel Group is one ASX 200 company with no women on its board, despite having a policy that “supports diversity in the workplace, in the composition of its Board and senior management and throughout the Flight Centre Group as a whole.” Its board consists of five men. Another major company, Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd. has just one woman on its board (representing 11 percent). Westfield Corporation Ltd. has two female board members (15 percent).
A board should ideally be comprised of a group of people who are more different than they are the same. Corporations that recognise the value of diversity, actively choose board members who are diverse in terms of gender, age, skills, experience and culture.
The Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s (WGEA) report Gender Equality Scorecard November 2017 is a review of over four million Australian employees and 11,000 employers.
Director Libby Lyons said “Disappointingly, there has been little change … in the gender balance of Australia’s boardrooms. Men still dominate the faces around these top tables, and the data suggests boards are not engaging with gender equality issues. As the guardians of organisational strategy, boards must step up.”
Things are looking a lot more hopeful in Tassie. The Tasmanian State Government has committed to achieving a 50 percent balance of men and women on government boards and committees by July 2020. Its Women on Boards Strategy 2015-20 has so far increased female numbers from 33 percent in 2015 to 40 percent in 2017. In its November 2017 report, Women in Leadership: Lessons from Australian Companies Leading the Way, McKinsey & Company found the effort to improve gender balance needs to go beyond recruitment. Women constitute 42 percent of all employees, yet only a quarter of executives and 10 percent of CEOs for large, for-profit companies.
WGEA Director, Libby Lyons, said: “In Australia today, men still out-earn women in every industry and across all occupations.” Full-time women are paid on average just 78% of men’s full-time salaries, leaving them $26,527 a year worse off (rising to $89,216 at the top level of management.)
To help men drive change on gender inequality, former Australian Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick, has founded the Male Champions of Change Institute.“In most nations, men largely occupy the seats of power. Relying exclusively on women to lead change on gender equality is therefore illogical. We need decent, powerful men to step up beside women to create a more gender equal world.”
One Male Champion of Change puts it this way, “Let’s not pretend there aren’t already established norms that advantage men. Men invented the system. Men largely run the system. Men need to change the system.”
** stats and information current at date of article submission**
Women wanting to increase their ability to serve on boards and committees in can apply to the Government Board Diversity Scholarship Program for financial help completing AICD courses. There is also a database that interested candidates can join called the Tasmanian Women’s Register that is administered by the Department of Premier and Cabinet. For more information Click Here.
Written by Claire Burnet -A typical LOIS gal, Claire juggles many roles including mother, public relations consultant, trainer, writer, and permaculture teacher. In her spare time you’ll find her in a garden, up a mountain, or hiding in a corner with a good book.