AICD data shows women largely absent on IPO boards

Although the numbers of women directors has risen, newly-listed companies are lagging well behind

AICD data shows women largely absent on IPO boards

Around 90% of newly-listed companies do not have a single woman director, according to new data from the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD). Companies joining the ASX200 are failing to keep up with the rest of corporate Australia in the number of women appointed to their boards, according to the AICD’s annual gender diversity report.

Women make up 35.1% of board members in the top 200 listed companies – an increase from 33.7% a year ago. However, among companies newly listed on the exchange, only 14% of directors are women.

Companies in the materials sector are the most under-represented with only 5% of women on their boards.

AICD managing director and chief executive Mark Rigotti said the lack of diversity at the IPO stage was disappointing.

“Listed boards face additional scrutiny from the media, regulators and investors and the board’s composition should reflect the necessary skills and experience to oversee a public company and suit the company’s post-listing needs,” he said.

While the number of women directors tends to go up following a listing, company director and 30% Club chair Nicola Wakefield Evans said that companies are not appointing women early enough in the IPO process.

“The criteria also seems to be higher for women than existing male directors when they do go looking – it’s like they’re trying to fill every existing gap in their board’s [capability] with one person,” said Wakefield Evans.

Lawyer Susan Price, who acts for companies looking to list says the main culprits will be male-founded start-ups where due respect hasn’t been paid to HR, risk and compliance management.

“The focus is on what do you need to do to list, not what to you need to do to run a successful business. It’s the add on not the integrated function.”

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