Watermark Board Diversity Index 2016

The issue of gender diversity in both the Boardroom and the Senior Executive ranks of Australian companies remains a topic for discussion and action. The Male Champions of Change, a group set up in 2010 by previous Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, was established on the basis that male leaders visibly stepping up to promote gender equality was a key lever for creating change. In a similar way the Australian Institute of Company Directors has created visibility around Boardroom gender diversity and instituted a range of programs to be part of that change. The issue of gender diversity in the Boardroom is not ‘done and dusted’ by any means however it is highly visible and widely reported on and although it might still take a while to reach parity the old adage “What gets measured gets done” seems apt.

In contrast, there remains very little measurement and reporting on cultural diversity in Australia’s boardrooms…that is only just starting to happen. In a report released by the Diversity Council of Australia (DCA), in collaboration with Deakin University, which reviews the trends in ASX Board Cultural Diversity between 2004 and 2013 it concluded that “Boards are getting more culturally diverse” and that “the percentage of Directors from Asian backgrounds is increasing”. That might well be true, however the shifts, in the larger companies at least, are small and off a low base. As the report also concludes “Boardrooms don’t yet reflect the cultural diversity of the wider community”… especially in the ASX300. Much of the discussion concerning gender equality has been about providing a better reflection of society thus being better able to understand and appreciate the needs of their organisations’ customers. In addition the different perspectives that women bring to problem solving make a direct contribution to better decision making. Surely it is not just gender that this holds true for?

It would seem to make sense that an ethnically diverse board would potentially bring a better understanding of the population it serves, a diversity of problem solving and thinking styles and a better appreciation of the mind-set of key trading partners.

This paper by Watermark Search International covers three areas of diversity amongst the ASX300 boards:

  • Gender Diversity
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Skills Diversity

Click here to read more.

Thought leadership category