Media Release by The Hon Kate Ellis MP

Still a long way to go for women in corporate Australia

Kate Ellis has said today that the results of the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace’s Census of Women in Leadership are still not good enough.

“With women holding only 8.4% of board directorships and 8% of Executive Key Management Personnel positions in the ASX 200, it is clear that women are still being largely shut out of senior decision making roles in Australian business,” Ms Ellis said.

“Despite progress on many key indicators, women continue to be dramatically underrepresented in the most senior business positions.”

“Sadly this year’s Census also reveals that the percentage of ASX 200 companies with male-only boards has actually increased, from 51% in 2008 to 54% in 2010.”

“There are so many Australian women with the skills, abilities and experience to be wonderful contributors to corporate boards and yet this isn’t being reflected in the make up of Australian business management.”

The Australian Government is committed to increasing the number of women on boards by providing scholarships to women through the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD).

70 high performing women will receive these scholarships, which will entitle them to attend the AICD company director courses. The Australian Government and the AICD will both contribute $200 000 over the next two years to this program. Although the representation of women on Federal Government boards is well in advance of ASX 200 companies, at 33.4 per cent, Ms Ellis said that there was still more to do.

“The Australian Government committed during the election to a new target of 40% representation for both women and men on Federal Government boards.”

“We are leading by example when it comes to women’s representation on boards and I am calling on all Australian businesses to follow suit.”

“Tapping into women’s skills and experience is not just good for women – it is also good for business and can improve international competitiveness”.

Ms Ellis congratulated the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency for continuing to keep this issue on the national agenda and for their excellent in-depth work with over 2,800 organisations every year.

EOWA’s longitudinal study has been measuring the number of female board directors and senior managers in the ASX 200 since 2002.

The EOWA Census was conducted in partnership with ANZ, Macquarie University and the US research organisation, Catalyst.