Boardroom gender gains slow

One in five of Australia's biggest listed companies still lack a female director, four years after business launched a major push to address woeful female representation in the boardroom.

New figures today from the Australian Institute of Company Directors show that while the number of female appointments has improved dramatically since 2010, 42 companies in the S&P-ASX 200 index still don't have a woman on their board.

The AICD said there were plenty of positives in the data, citing the significant gains in gender diversity over the past four years but admitted "more progress still needs to be made".

"There is no doubt improvement is occurring," AICD chief executive John Colvin said.

"More needs to be done, but the progress made so far is very heartening," he said.

Newly appointed Emeco Holdings executive and corporate director Kellie Benda said the increase in women board members had come from a low base.

"It is changing for the better but extraordinarily slowly," Ms Benda said. "It's been given a lot of focus and momentum but if it keeps moving at this pace, that would be disappointing."

Ms Benda is a past WA council member of the AICD. She said there was a shortage of a female candidates for directorships not because of a lack of skills and training but a "huge" rate of women dropping out at the junior and middle-management level.

A lack of depth in the pool from which boards found directors also contributed. "It's still over 55, male white Caucasian, and they operate in particular networks," she said.

The AICD said that since 2010, the percentage of female directorships on S&P-ASX 200 boards had more than doubled from 8.3 per cent 17.6 per cent.

The number of S&P-ASX 200 companies without a female director had more than halved from 87 to 42, with all but five of the latter in the bottom 100 companies.

The percentage of females among appointments to S&P-ASX 200 boards rose from 5 per cent in 2009 to 22 per cent in 2013. There has been improvement this year, with women making up 39 per cent of appointments.

The West Australian

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