Media Release by The Hon Julie Collins MP

More opportunities for women from diverse backgrounds

The Australian Government will provide $100,000 to the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia to promote the participation on boards of women from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds.

The Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins, said the one-off funding will be used to identify pathways for women from diverse backgrounds into board positions.

“Anecdotal evidence shows few women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds occupy positions on boards or in senior management,” Ms Collins said.

“This is something that needs to change to reflect Australia’s multiculturalism – one in four Australian women is born overseas.

“What this project will do is allow us to compile hard data on how many women from diverse backgrounds do in fact occupy top leadership and decision-making positions, including the role of Chair and Deputy Chair on boards.

“It will determine the obstacles they face in being appointed to these positions and whether any discrimination they face is based not only on gender, but also on cultural, religious or linguistic biases, and how this can be overcome.

“This project will also identify areas where progress is being made-the companies and business leaders that are doing the right thing in supporting women from diverse backgrounds to fulfil their leadership potential.

“Once we have this kind of information, we can implement initiatives and policies to improve the participation on boards of women from diverse backgrounds.

“I was pleased to see in the Board Diversity Scholarships I announced this week that 12 of the 70 recipients are from CALD backgrounds and six are Indigenous Australians.

“Ensuring our boardrooms reflect the diversity of our community is sound business practice,” Ms Collins said.

“Women make up 46 per cent of the labour force, and they currently hold only 15.2 per cent of ASX 200 board positions.

“The Australian Government is leading by example with the percentage of women on Government boards now at an all-time high of 38.4 per cent.

“Our partnership with the Australian Institute of Company Directors on the Board diversity scholarships program is part of a range of initiatives aimed at achieving gender balance on boards and in the workplace.

“Another is BoardLinks – a network to support more Australian women into leadership positions.

“The new Workplace Gender Equality Act will also help promote the cultural change we need for women and men to be truly equal in the workplace.”