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International Women’s Day: Which ASX companies are fighting gender inequality?

On International Women’s Day 2021, we’re diving deep to look at gender bias within companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The post International Women’s Day: Which ASX companies are fighting gender inequality? appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia. –

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This year, the theme of International Women’s Day is #ChooseToChallenge, and in the spirit of challenging gender inequality and bias, we’re taking a deep dive into gender equality within companies listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX).

We will focus on the people making up the boards of S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) listed companies and ask some of the important questions: Where is progress happening? Where does more need to be done? And finally, how are those that have made the ASX 200 contributing to equality?

How gender inequality presents itself in the Australian share market

You may be thinking that gender bias isn’t something we need to be talking about in Australia. That here, sexism died long ago. However, while we have come a long way over years, and we’re getting closer to gender equality, we’re not there yet.

Chief Executive Women (CEW) defines true gender balance on company boards as a 40:40:20 ratio – where at least 40% of a board’s members are female and 40% are male, with 20% leeway.

It’s an ever-changing statistic, but the CEW’s ASX200 Senior Executive Census 2020 reported only 30 companies on the ASX 200 have achieved this balance.

It also found that of 25 chief executive appointments to ASX 200 companies between 2019 and 2020, only one was filled by a woman. In the same time frame, the proportion of female CEOs dropped to just 5%. A number that is more stunning when considered alongside S&P Global research that found the share prices of female-led companies perform, on average, 20% better than male-led companies. 

It’s a bleaker picture still when we consider other Australian indices. According to the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD), only 30.2% of ASX 300 Index (ASX: XKO) board members are women, with 14 companies’ boards comprising only men.

Those on the All Ordinaries Index (ASX: XAO) are even worse. Only 26.4% of board members within All Ords-listed companies are women and a total of 80 boards (out of 500) have no women on them.

Is 2021 the year of gender equality on the ASX 200?

2021 is off to a great start for gender equality in companies listed on the ASX 200.

So far, 45.5% of new board appointments in 2021 have been comprised of women. Way up from only 28% in 2011.

In January alone, women came to hold 5 more board seats on ASX 200-listed companies.

Additionally, according to the AICD, the average number of women on ASX 200 boards is 32.6%.

Things certainly have come a long way since the 30% Club launched in Australia in 2015. The club’s primary objective is campaigning for 30% women on ASX 200 boards. Its aims have been well and truly achieved; 110 companies listed on the ASX 200 now have boards that are at least 30% female.

Alas, gender bias and inequality are ongoing battles and we still have a long way to go. But the future is looking bright.

How do ASX 200 companies stack up in the fight against gender inequality?

Currently, Woolworths Group Ltd (ASX: WOW) is leading the fight against gender inequality, with 5 of Woolworths’ 9 board members being women.

A number of companies are keeping up with Woolworths’ example, boasting a 50% female board. These include Elders Ltd (ASX: ELD), A2 Milk Company Ltd (ASX: A2M) and Lynas Rare Earths Ltd (ASX: LYC).

On the flip side, there are only 2 companies in the ASX 200 with no women on their board of directors — Kogan.com Ltd (ASX: KGN) and Silver Lake Resources Limited (ASX: SLR). Each company has 4 board members, and of these, 100% are male. 

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Brooke Cooper has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Kogan.com ltd. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of and has recommended A2 Milk. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of Woolworths Limited. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Elders Limited and Kogan.com ltd. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

The post International Women’s Day: Which ASX companies are fighting gender inequality? appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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