The Government has today launched BoardLinks, a proactive initiative to support more Australian women into leadership positions, including increasing female representation on public and private sector boards.
“We know that women are as equally skilled and educated as their male counterparts,” Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Senator Penny Wong, said, “yet they continue to be underrepresented on high-level boards and decision-making bodies.”
“Through the establishment of BoardLinks, the Government is taking concrete action to address gender inequality,” Minister Wong said.
BoardLinks will provide more opportunities for women to be appointed to their first board, to launch and further their directorship careers. It will also facilitate training, mentoring and support.
“One of the most significant hurdles facing women being appointed to boards is a requirement for prior board experience. However this can be self-perpetuating because too few women hold board positions to begin with,” Minister for the Status of Women, Julie Collins MP, said.
“That’s why BoardLinks’ first focus will be on appointing women to their first government board role, thereby expanding the pool of women who can be appointed to board positions in the corporate sector.”
Currently, just 14.6 per cent of board positions in ASX top 200 companies are held by women.
In 2010, the Government committed to achieving a 40:40:20 gender balance target on Australian Government boards by 2015 and is on track to meeting this target. As of 30 June 2011, women held 35.3 per cent of government board positions.
Business leaders have put their support behind BoardLinks, with five Champions of the network announced at today’s launch – CEO of ASX, Elmer Funke Kupper; Chair of Coca-Cola Amatil and the Future Fund, David Gonski AC; Westpac CEO, Gail Kelly; Telstra Chair, Catherine Livingstone AO; and Chair of Women Leadership Institute of Australia, Carol Schwartz AM.
A number of organisation have also been announced as affiliates of the network – Australian Institute of Company Directors, ASX, Chief Executive Women, Women on Boards and Women Leadership Institute of Australia.