Female board members in the ASX200 are statistically likely to be decades younger than their male counter parts, suggesting a generational change in board composition.

Nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of male non-executive directors are aged 60–70+ years, while 62 per cent of females are between the ages of 40 and 60, according to research carried out by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI).

The 14th annual report into Board Composition and Non-Executive Director Pay in ASX200 Companies also showed that the number of women being appointed to boards, while “painfully” slow, was increasing. Women directors held 19 per cent of board seats in the entire S&P/ASX200 sample compared to 16.5 per cent in the prior period.

Louise Davidson, chief executive of ACSI, said: “We believe there is a widespread mood for change, and momentum is growing. ACSI has a policy target of 30 per cent female representation by 2017, and we’ll continue to be a strong voice in this discussion, both in the investment community and in our engagements with companies.”

However, there was a marked difference between the largest and smallest companies in the ASX200.

Board composition
Source: Board Composition and Non-Executive Director Pay in ASX200 Companies . Click to enlarge

Of new appointments to the ASX100, 37 per cent (33 individuals) were women. This brings the total number of women directors to 131, and between them they hold 179 board seats (22.7 per cent). This is up from 112 females holding 153 board seats in 2013.

Smaller companies have continued to lag behind, with only 23 per cent of appointments (20 individuals) to the ASX101-200 being female. This means women only make up 12.7 per cent of ASX101-200 boards in 2014.

Additionally, very few women were appointed to executive roles in the ASX200 – two, to be precise. ACSI reports that with these appointments there are now 12 female executives and nine female chairs.

Other key findings from the research include:

  • Directors sitting on multiple boards: 105 directors take up one third of all ASX100 seats; additionally, half of all directors appointed to ASX100 companies were already on another ASX100 board
  • More than 1 in 10 directors (11 per cent) had no personal equity in the company they oversaw
  • Average fees for ASX100 non-executive directors increased slightly from $215,469 in 2013 to $217,196 in 2014