Women closing gap
Women now account for 27.7 per cent of directors across ASX 200 companies, up from 25.4 per cent this time last year.
The report also reveals that for the first time, women make up three in every 10 directors at ASX 100 companies.
Over the year-to-date, however, the appointment rate for women joining ASX 200 boards has dipped slightly after women made up a smaller proportion of appointments last month.
That rate now stands at 49 per cent, dropping below 50 per cent for the first time since January.
Kevin McCann, a member of support group Male Champions of Change and a former chairman of Macquarie, said a 2007 McKinsey study titled Women Matter showed greater diversity in leadership correlated with better economic performance.
This was the case where women were in at least 30 per cent of leadership roles, while below that threshold, no improvement was observed, he said.
Mr McCann said women directors had made important contributions and gender initiatives gave companies a wider access to talent. “There is a pipeline of talented women available for boards with a broad range of skills,” he said.
Institute chair Elizabeth Proust said while the quarterly results showed positive progress towards the target of achieving 30 per cent female representation across ASX 200 boards by the end of this year, the figures for May were cause for concern.
“The obstacle to achieving this target has long been one of demand, not of supply,” she said. “Australia is not lacking for talented and experienced women, and the breadth and depth of experience of female appointees in 2018 is evidence of that.
“However, even with the current year-to-date female appointment rate of 49 per cent, achieving the 30 per cent target by the end of this year will be tough.”
The report said there remained five boards of ASX 200 companies with no women as at May 31, down from 13 this time last year. These included automotive accessories group ARB Corporation, mining services company Ausdrill and salmon producer Tassal.