There’s a push to block companies with no female directors from an IPO
There is a new push to ensure that companies looking to join the ASX have women on their boards before they list.
The Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD)-led “30 per cent Club” is establishing a group with representation from investment bank and private equity companies, specifically those who advise on IPOs, that will look at a range of initiatives but ensure no companies going through an IPO list without female directors.
“The working group will comprise of investment bankers and private equity professionals that will be advocates for change within their industry,” said Rhian Richardson, who is an executive of the 30 per cent Club and board diversity manager at AICD.
“They will assist us in developing key messages for why diversity on boards is important that speak to investment bankers and founders/investors.
“We will connect them with executive search consultants and female directors so they have a pool of talented directors they can approach for board roles and we will work with them on promoting the companies that are listing to female directors.”
Stockhead took a look at the IPOs done in the past year to see how many companies listed with women on their board.
Nearly 62 per cent of the 63 companies that listed in the past year did not have a woman on the board.
Around 32 per cent had one woman on their boards, while just 6 per cent had two.
Only one company, gold explorer Yandal Resources (ASX:YRL), had female board representation of greater than 50 per cent.
Here are the companies that have listed in the past year and how many women they have on their boards:
Swipe or scroll to reveal the full table. Click headings to sort
The 30 per cent Club was launched in May 2015 with a target of 30 per cent women on ASX 200 boards by the end of 2018.
As of the end of February, 29.7 per cent of ASX 200 boards were women. The AICD has set a new target of 30 per cent women directors on the boards of ASX 300 companies by the end of 2021.
Although the 30 per cent Club only looks at the top 300 companies by market cap on the ASX, this is a good indicator of what small caps will have to aspire to if they want to become a bigger player.
It is also likely that this push for more women will eventually flow down to smaller end of the market.
“We are still putting the group together,” Richardson told Stockhead.
“The Australian chapter chair, Nicola Wakefield Evans, thought we should establish this due to our new focus on the ASX 300.”
Wakefield Evans said the role played by investment bankers and underwriters in board selection would also be relevant as the focus shifted towards smaller companies and IPOs.
A new study undertaken by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and AVID Property Group has shown just how valuable offering flexible work arrangements can be to attracting more women to management roles.
The study, “Effectiveness of gender equality initiatives in project-based organizations in Australia”, was recently published in the Australian Journal of Management.
“While gender equality in Australia is slowly improving, certain sectors – including mining and property – remain highly gender segregated,” said Marzena Baker, a QUT academic and AVID Property Group marketing manager.
“To date, there has been little research to confirm that work-life initiatives had any real impact on gender equality in these sectors, with this paper the first in Australia to do so.
“The availability of work-life initiatives is a major determinant of employees’ perceptions of organisational support for gender equality and may lead to greater organisational attractiveness for new employees.”
This includes things like amended start and finish times, access to part-time work, job sharing and working from home.
The property sector is the second largest employer in Australia, behind mining, directly employing 1.17 million full-time employees.
But just 4 per cent of CEOs and 20 per cent of key managers are women, with men making up almost all higher-status and higher-paying roles.
The AICD is launching its 6th Chair’s Mentoring Program in August.
The program is AICD’s flagship board diversity initiative aimed at arming highly-experienced and qualified women with the right tools to become directors.
“This program has been really successful in connecting experienced and emerging female directors with ASX chairs and NEDS [non-executive directors] in a mentoring relationship,” Richardson explained.
“Our past mentees have enjoyed successful board directors across a variety of sectors, with a number of them being appointed to ASX 200 boards.”
The AICD monitors ASX 200 boards regularly and produces a quarterly report regularly highlighting the stats.
The organisation is also investigating other projects focused on cognitive diversity on boards and the importance of boards being comprised of individuals with different thinking styles and perspectives.
The 30 per cent Club, meanwhile, is working on a pathways to ASX 200 board roles report featuring insights from the 2018 male and female appointees.