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Women on Australian Boards - Going, Going, Gone?
Compared with Norway, where the Government has mandated that listed company boards have a composition of at least 40 per cent women, the number of female directors on ASX 200 company boards is less than impressive, at just 8.3 per cent. And in what is hopefully not an indicator of future trends, the figure has dropped from last year's 8.7 per cent.
Australia also rates poorly compared with other Western nations. In the United States 15.2 per cent of listed company board seats are held by women, in Britain 11.5 per cent and in Europe 9.7 per cent.
In August, the Corporations and Markets Advisory Committee (CAMAC), the organisation that advises the Federal Government on corporate law matters, brought down a report which noted that directors of public companies come from a "relatively limited pool" and are often "drawn from the ranks of other boards and senior corporate executives".
CAMAC has urged the ASX Corporate Governance Council to develop guidelines to boost the representation of women on Australian boards.
I believe this is one of the few issues which justify the imposition of a quota - with heavy penalties for non-compliance, to ensure equal numbers of male and female board members for Australian listed companies, public sector agencies and statutory authorities.
Without such quotas, the glass ceiling will remain firmly in place, despite the efforts of the many skilled, talented and qualified women who continue to try and break through it.