Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick said that the announcement made by the ASX Corporate Governance Council this afternoon, requiring companies to set measurable objectives for the achievement of gender diversity, was an historic development.
“I have continued to call for strong intervention so that business leadership in this country includes both women and men,” Commissioner Broderick said. “This initiative by the ASX Corporate Governance Council not only gives high level visibility to the issue, but will allow us to celebrate those organisations that lead the change and to draw attention to those who continue to make no progress.”
Commissioner Broderick said that this approach provides transparency at long last.
“Hopefully we will look back on this day and say that this was a major turning point for women's leadership in Australian business,” Commissioner Broderick said. “For the first time, companies will be required to disclose to the stock market the proportion of women employees in their organisation, in senior management and on the Board, together with their commitment to improvement.”
Commissioner Broderick said that women continued to be under-represented at senior levels in almost every sector across Australia. The 2008 EOWA Australian Census of Women’s Leadership showed that only 8.3% of board members in ASX 200 companies were female, while almost 50% of ASX 200 Boards had no women at all.
“Up until now there has been a lot of rhetoric and good intentions, but actions speak louder than words, and this initiative will prove that action is taking place,” said Commissioner Broderick. “This transparent reporting will allow the Australian public to see, for the first time, what companies are really doing to progress gender diversity.”
“We must remember that while women continue to be excluded from decision making in the economic life of this country, they will be marginalised everywhere,” said Ms Broderick.
Commissioner Broderick said the achievement of reform for women in the main exchange was a significant milestone in progress towards true gender equality in Australia.
ASX announcement, 7 December 2009