Quotas to get women on board no simple fix

Targets, not mandated quotas, are considered more appropriate for achieving gender equity in boardrooms.

And more women on boards does not necessarily translate to more females in an industry.

These were the issues discussed at last week’s CEO Voice roundtable event, hosted by the Australian Institute of Management WA and WestBusiness.

Male and female leaders across multiple sectors discussed ways to address the under-representation of women in boardrooms and asked: should there be a quota for female board positions?

Committee for Perth chief executive Marion Fulker said recent research found women represented 8.7 per cent of board positions and 9.5 per cent of C-Suite positions in WA.

She said a mandated quota might address the lack of representation at boardroom level but would not necessarily flow on to other parts of a company.

“While other countries like Norway have adopted a 30 or 40 per cent quota, we have not seen that trickle down effect in Norway or other countries,” Ms Fulker said.

“Because women from the middle ranks weren’t getting to the executive they are not getting to boards. We are talking about Norway solving a problem, but they are only solving one problem.”

Bendigo Bank State manager WA Simone Ellul said there should be a greater focus on encouraging women into leadership roles across an organisation.

“In the organisation I’m involved in the board is good, the executive is good, but as soon as you go down below those levels the number of women in senior leadership roles are very minimal,” she said. “If we don’t start somewhere and see some strict focus I don’t know if we’ll ever be seeing change.”

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‍Left row from bottom: Meredith Hammat, Janet Barnes, Alison Gaines, Gerard Daniels, Shayne Silcox. Centre row from bottom: Marion Fulker, Jennifer Lawrence, Simone Ellul, Alison Robertson, John Byrne. Right row from bottom: Gary Martin, Sasha Pendal, Chris Sutherland, Tania Cecconi, Pat Hall.

Picture: Mogens Johansen

Tania Cecconi

Since 2016, I have been thrilled to work with CEOs for Gender Equity as its inaugural executive director. Working with progressive CEOs my goal is to turn the dial in Western Australia. My job is to help them lead the transformation of their workforce by eliciting and sharing their stories of what works and doesn't work to drive and improve gender equity further.