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Women on Boards

When I was a young professional woman, the thought of owning a sports car, was my dream.  Today I co-own a social enterprise business that helps improve the gender balance and facilitates women onto boards; be they corporate, government, not for profit or private companies.


Women on Boards started as an informal network in 2001 and founded as a company in 2006. Today there are over 18,000 women registered with Women on Boards, and to date we have helped nearly 1000 women gain board positions.


The focus for Women on Boards, involves taking a three-pronged approach to increasing the representation of women in leadership through: advocacy; pathways programs for aspirant directors; and access to board opportunities.  Taken together this is a powerful platform for the advancement of women.  But at the end of the day, it takes drive and determination for the individual woman to succeed.


Women on Boards published its first Boardroom Diversity Index (BDI) in 2010.  The BDI tracks annually the numbers of women on the boards of eight sectors pivotal to success in Australia.


Some results from the 2013 BDI :


ASX200                                                     15.8%; (17.6% at March 2014)

Superannuation Trustees                              20.9%

Mutuals (credit unions, mutual banks)            20.9%

Private Health Insurance Funds                     24.2%

Research & Development Corporations          23.7%

National Sporting Organisations                    24.4%

Cooperative Research Centres                     17.1%

Australian Government (450 boards )            41.7%


Currently in Australia, achieving 40% female representation on a board is becoming the accepted target.  For all sectors, albeit the Australian Government, there is still a long way to go and a lot more work to be done.


The Reibey Institute found that ASX500 companies with women directors on their boards delivered significantly higher Return on Equity (ROE) than those companies without women directors.  Proving that the business case for more women on corporate boards is well established.


There are many boards in need of increased female representation and a great opportunity for women for improve the current gender imbalance.  If you are interested in taking a board position, here are some starter tips:


–       Have a well-crafted board pitch that focuses on what you can offer a board

–       Tell people you are interested in serving on a board

–       Seek out opportunities and put up your hand

–       Being a director while still an executive is recommended

–       It’s never too early in your career to become a director

–       Join Women on Boards if you want to take on your first or subsequent directorships

–       Drive and determination are the key to success


Ruth Medd, chair Women on Boards



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