In early 2015, the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) called for all all S&P/ASX200 companies to ensure that at least 30 percent of their directors were female by the end of 2018. At the time, female directors made up 19.4 percent of board membership, an increase from 8.4% in 2010 and 12.3% in 2012.
At the end of February 2016, the AICD found that 22.7% of board directors in the ASX200 were female, a twelve-month increase of 3.3%. Forty-five ASX200 companies had met the 30 percent target. If this appointment trend continued, by the end of 2018 there would be just under 28 per cent women on ASX200 boards – progress but still below the target.
Unfortunately, there are still twenty-one ASX200 companies without any female directors. For women to gain influence in the workplace, for equal pay to become a reality, for women’s voices to be heard and listened to, women need to be appointed to executive positions.
We all know the stories; that women are less prevalent in executive positions because “women make different choices” or “women are less ambitious than men.” However, research by The 100% Project found that women and men share similar career goals – women generally want promotion, advancement and more responsibility at work too. Men and women also share some of the same concerns about work life-balance, spending time with family, and being judged for asking for flexible working conditions, even when employers are encouraging.
The 100% Project’s research found that both women and men hold an unconscious bias in that they generally believe flexible working conditions are more acceptable for women than men. Not only does this prevent men from asking for flexible conditions, but there is less opportunity for women to advance into positions of influence.
Call to Action
The 100% Project calls for equality between women and men in the workplace. Australian organisations must address the significant systemic inequality that prevents capable women from contributing at a high level while also preventing men from asking for flexible conditions that enable them to achieve a greater work life balance.
We require a new solution to an old problem. Women and men both need to be part of the dialogue and process for change. Male leadership figures are crucial to the empowerment of women in the workplace. The 100% Project is committed to educating executives on the benefits of gender equality, and supporting and advising executives on strategies to lead cultural change in their organisations.