Employers urged to make gender diversity a priority

by 23 Jul 2010

Australian employers are being urged to get their house in order sooner rather than later when it comes to gender diversity.

At a Diversity Council Australia event held in Sydney yesterday employers were advised to make early adoption of new ASX Corporate Governance Council gender diversity recommendations a top priority.

From 1 January next year, Australian listed companies will be encouraged to disclose in their annual reports:

· The company's performance in achieving gender objectives set out by the board; and

· The proportion of women on the board, in senior management and employed throughout the whole organisation.

· If companies choose not to report on these matters then they will be required to explain in their annual report why they have not done so and what alternative arrangements they have in place.

While the new recommendations take effect for the first financial year of listed entities beginning on or after 1 January 2011, companies are being urged to adopt the reporting guidelines as soon as possible.

DCA's CEO, Nareen Young said: "Despite decades of equal opportunity programs and anti-discrimination legislation, the representation of women at the most senior levels in Australia is extremely poor. At present less than 10 per cent of board members of the top 200 listed companies are women."

"This alone represents a serious underutilisation of valuable resources that would, if addressed, lead to significantly greater profitability and corporate efficiency," Young said.

Young added that the issue was not just about the boardroom but equal opportunity for women at all levels in organisations.

"The Council's changes to the Corporate Governance Principles and Recommendations put companies on notice that representation of women in leadership positions needs to increase and boards must play a role in setting governance objectives to drive change," she added, urging that companies should adopt the recommendations immediately.”

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