There has been some movement within Australia: the ASX Corporate Governance Council has amended its guidelines to encourage listed companies to set targets for the number of women on their boards, and report transparently against these targets annually. The Cooper Review recommended the development of a Code of Trustee Governance, which would set a goal of 40 per cent female directors. AIST supports this and believes it to be achievable, but it will require a lot of work from funds and their sponsors. The Australian Institute of Company Directors this year launched a mentoring and scholarship program to encourage and promote the appointment of female directors to corporate boards.
While this is an excellent first step for the corporate world, more must be done to lift the number of female directors from 10 per cent. Australia has dropped below all our OECD counterparts (except Japan) for the number of women on corporate boards. It’s sad to think that – in a country where more than 60 per cent of our university graduates are female, and which is rated among the top three countries in the world for female education – we would need to resort to regulating the number of female directors on boards. There is growing recognition that solving this issue is everyone’s business, not just an issue for women. There’s plenty of high-achieving and capable Peggys in the super world, and they have a valuable role to play in governing the industry.