We may be seeing more women on boards and in senior management roles across several sectors, but ASX-listed small caps are still not doing so well when it comes to attracting the ladies.

Less than 24 per cent of companies with a market cap of $400m or less have at least one female director on their board, according to Stockhead’s analysis of data. That’s barely 400 of 1714 companies.

Less than 30 have substantial female representation (i.e. more than two or 50 per cent or more).

There is still a perception that there is a shortage of women fit for board or senior management roles, but according to one recruitment expert that isn’t the case.

“There’s no lack of senior women in the market, there really isn’t,” Kelly Quirk, head of Perth-based recruiting firm Harrier Human Capital, told Stockhead.

“There are thousands and thousands of women out there in senior roles across Australia.

“There is the perception they’re not there, they are. The strategies to attract them are not there.”

When it comes to the big end of town, Ms Quirk believes it’s all “grand statements” and no strategy.

She says investors want to see greater diversity of boards, but the vast majority of board heads and CEOs in the ASX200 are still men.

“When you get into big and medium businesses, there’s an absolute lack of strategy around diversity,” she said.

“I’d argue that many of the people in those roles are not looking, they’re making these motherhood statements but they’re not actually looking seriously around the women – what they need, the role they are going to do and how they are going to attract them.”

On the junior front, Ms Quirk says while companies have greater challenges, they need to think more seriously about bolstering their female contingent.

“If you think about the mid to small cap organisations, they do tend be less than 200 employees and probably $50m of GP (gross profit) and those businesses don’t have mature people strategies,” she explained.

“There’s definitely a market perception that needs to change but those guys have got more pressing challenges … around cash flow and capitalising.

“What they’re not looking inherently at is blend and balance in terms of diversity across their businesses.”

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