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Australia cracks the 30% threshold for women on ASX200 boards

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Although gender disparity in business leadership is still a huge issue, a recent study shows that the gap is beginning to close in some areas

The University of Queensland report found that the amount of women sitting on ASX200 boards has risen from 8.3% in 2008 to 33.6% in 2021.

This makes Australia one of three countries to crack the 30% threshold without any legislated quotas.

Key driving factors include the AICD’s board mentoring program, reporting on diversity and public campaigns

Dr Miriam Yates co-authored the study along with Dr Terrance Fitzsimmons and Professor Victor Callan.

She said more transparent reporting on diversity within the ASX Corporate Governance Council is a key driver behind the shift.

“We know from the research that formalised mentoring can be the catalyst for ‘opening the door’ to under-represented group members within the workplace,” she said.

The report also found that public campaigns from institutional investors, as well as the establishment of the 30% Club Australia helped drive the increase.

“In many ways, this change was cumulative, with each initiative building on the work of that which had come before,” Dr Yates said.

percentage-of-female-directorships-on-asx200-boards
Source: Statistics are based on the Australian Institute of Company Directors research. Company rankings data provided by Market Index. Quarterly rebalance information provided by S&P.

However, the news wasn’t all positive

The researchers also found that a lack of affordable childcare and stereotyping have continued to act as barriers to women.

The report made a total of seven recommendations, including:

  1. The establishment of a formal alliance of key influencers
  2. The reinvigoration of board readiness and mentoring programs
  3. The adoption of a 40/40/20 target for board gender parity. (40 per cent female, 40 per cent male, and 20 per cent either way)

The executive of Women on Boards Claire Braund described the news as encouraging. However, she also said growth hasn’t translated through to leadership positions.

“There is not really any significant trend for the number of female chairs or CEOs on ASX200 boards. Nor is there any uptick in the number of culturally diverse directors,” Braund said.

Currently, only one in ten blue chip company chairs is a woman.

“The worst sector for representation of women on ASX boards is the ASX200+ where the number of women effectively drops off a cliff.”

The report also highlighted this trend: “Australia’s continued improvement in board diversity sits in stark contrast to our diminishing position in terms of most other gender equality indicators, including gender diversity among top executives.”

“This phenomenon is replicated in countries where quotas on boards have led to the highest rates of female board participation; such as France, Sweden, and Germany. These markets also continue to see stubbornly low levels of female executives.”

Trend in the percentage of women ASX200 board members versus women ASX200 CEOs

The researchers traced the increase in the ASX boardroom gender diversity back to 2009

“The nation had its first female Prime Minister and Governor-General; we were in the grip of the Global Financial Crisis; and the media in many countries was highlighting the lack of diversity on company boards,” Dr Yates said.

AGEC chair Coral Ross said the report highlights important lessons as Australia works towards equity in other facets of society.

“The achievement of more than 30 per cent of women on boards is even more remarkable given Australia’s lack of progress in other gender equality measures,” she said.

A Selection of 2009 Board Gender Diversity Articles and ASX Featured in the
Australian Financial Review

“It’s the mosaic of all the players that has enabled this change”

“What became apparent during the research was that there was no single institution or group of institutions that coordinated the changes and initiatives that led to the increase of women board members.”

“The systemic barriers to women’s progression in the workforce remain unaddressed and are responsible for a shrinking pipeline of women into leadership positions,” she said.

“A further identified barrier was the current board skills matrix, which favours CEO experience for board positions. When just 5 per cent of CEOs are women.”

Keira is the front-page editor at Ticker NEWS. She's previously worked at Reuters in Jakarta, and ABC in Australia. She has a Bachelor of Journalism, specialising in international politics. Keira is particularly interested in writing about politics, technology and human rights.

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EU plans to force USB-C chargers for all phones

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EU plans to make USB-C connectors the standard port for all smartphones and tablets, angering Apple

The European Commission rules to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices. The European Commission is aiming to have a common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, and handheld videogame consoles.

The ruling has been in the making for a decade, with environmental concerns the main driving force behind the historic move.

Reducing waste

The rule will reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device. Politicians have been pushing for this uni9versal charging rule for over a decade.

Disposed and unused charging cables generate approximately 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.  Research shows the average person owns around three mobile phone chargers.

A decade ago there were about 30 different types of chargers, now, phones use either USB-C, lightning, and USB micro-B.

Rotten Apple

The move would see all smartphones in the EU sold with the same charger, a motion Apple is not happy about. The tech giant says this move would damage ongoing innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made “Lightning” connector. Apple argues its Lightning connector is used by one billion active iPhone users.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”

Apple spokesperson

The proposed changes would apply to the charging port on the device body and will also standardise charging speeds. It may be a number of years before the proposals come into effect.

It will be thoroughly debated by the European Parliament and national Governments.

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Trade war fires up as U.S companies pass tariffs onto consumers

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Japan Exports

The trade war between the United States and China is continuing to heat up, but this hasn’t stopped American businesses from leaving the Chinese mainland

This all follows the US implementing tariffs on billions of dollars worth of Chinese consumer products in a bid to bring manufacturing back to American shores.

A new report has found this is hurting the US economy and has not been successful in pressuring China to change any of its economic policies.

Meanwhile, businesses based in either China and America have remained “deeply integrated” with the other… with foreign investment into China hitting a record high of US$144.4 billion in 2020.

This comes as Joe Biden moves to review US policy towards China, including the previous policies of Donald Trump.

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Business

Energy prices soar for Europeans as winter chill approaches

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There are growing concerns for European residents as energy prices continue to skyrocket in the lead-up to winter

The wholesale prices of natural gas in Britain, France, Spain, Germany and Italy have reached record highs, with overall household bills now through the roof.

This all comes as the continent braces for a cold winter and fuel is needed for increased electricity generation.

Meanwhile, the Europen Consumer Organisation warns it has seen a huge price increase… saying “It’s worrying ahead of the winter when gas consumption will necessarily increase.”

This latest price hike is being caused by a number of factors… including a depletion of natural gas stockpiles during a cold spring and a growing demand for gas in China.

Russia is also supplying less gas to the market than it ever has before.

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