More women on boards

The number of women on the boards of ASX200 companies hit 10% this week with the appointment of Sam Mostyn to the board of Virgin Blue. So far this year, 36 women have been appointed to ASX200 boards, compared to only 10 female appointments in the whole of last year. This is promising progress but we still have a long way to go – another 40% increase hopefully – at least we’re heading in the right direction and are not going backwards anymore.

Research abounds nowadays on the benefits of having women (not just one, 30% as a minimum) on boards. Goldman Sachs JB Were estimates that gender parity would help Australia achieve an 11% increase in GDP. The US based Catalyst found the Fortune 500 companies with 3 or more women on the board gained a significant performance advantage including:

  • +73% return on sales
  • +83% return on equity
  • +112% return on invested capital

Why would any self respecting business not want these sort of results? Supply doesn’t seem to be a problem as the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) reported when it was overwhelmed after offering it’s recent board ready mentoring program. Demand is still the issue and the resistance from the old school who still rule over company boards is strong.

Only recently at the Sydney Institute debate on quotas for women on boards, we were lectured by an elderly businessman on the fact that “women can’t play sport and without being active they can’t exercise their brains and so obviously couldn’t cut it on boards” and if only we’d stop the ‘wailing’. Anyway, keep up the good work AICD!