BUSINESS

Ceiling, schmeiling

Michelle Baltazar

Woman on boardYou imagine yourself chairing a meeting about a possible takeover of a company. Or maybe after 10 years of hard slog, you want to be the big boss of your big boss. But wait, what’s that familiar clink you hear? Oh, that’s right. It’s the glass ceiling.

New research shows more than half of the top 200 largest companies in Australia  (ASX200) don’t have a female board director, a worrying statistic given that half of the entire workforce are women.

Other studies have also shown that in certain industries, women make better chief executives than men, which makes the lack of women in senior posts all the more puzzling.

But there are several organisations, including Women on Boards (WOB), that are campaigning to change the lousy statistics against women in executive roles. Two months ago, it created what’s called the Boardroom Diversity Index, which tracks the number of women on the boards of ASX200 companies, credit unions, superannuation funds, national sporting bodies, top government business boards and key research centres.

Ruth Medd, WOB chair, said that by monitoring which companies promote more women, the public has the opportunity to identify companies that are cracking the glass ceiling and those that don’t.

In a name-and-shame report, WOB has listed ‘the good guys’, or the companies that added at least one woman to their board and ‘the laggards’, or the companies without the woman’s touch.

And it’s not for lack of talent that there aren’t enough women qualified to become a company director. WOB has a database of more than 7,000 professional women seeking directorships.

Medd said WOB is lobbying for all ASX200 companies to have a minimum 25 per cent of the board made up of female directors by 2012 – a realistic three-year target.

To put it in perspective, there are 1,474 total directorship positions on ASX200 companies as at last year, of which 128 (or around 8 per cent) are filled by women.

“Based on these numbers, we will require an additional 242 positions to be filled by women. Not an impossible ask,” she said.

Talent? Check. Smarts? Check. Outfit? Check. Now, all you have to do is go to the website www.womenonboards.org.au for more info on how to get that board seat.

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