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PRESS RELEASE: Women add real value to boards

Press release

New Australian research reveals the value women add to boards

Insync Surveys and Gender Worx have today released a study called Gender agenda: Unlocking the power of diversity in the boardroom, based on the views of 849 directors who serve on 105 different Australian and New Zealand boards.

The research identifies five key findings that demonstrate the benefits of gender diverse boards (boards comprising at least 33% women).

Mr Nicholas Barnett, Insync Surveys’ Chairman, said: “Our research findings are consistent with the notion that gender diverse boards are more effective and add greater value to an organisation than male dominated boards.

“Australia is currently ranked 24th on the world stage in terms of its percentage of women on boards. This highlights that we have a long way to go. Continuous and resolute leadership is required to achieve necessary change.

“A major finding of the research is that 72% of gender diverse boards believe they add greater organisational value through their decision making compared to only 64% of male dominated boards.

“The reason for the difference in perception between gender diverse and male dominated boards is not a result of women perceiving matters differently from men. Men and women on gender diverse boards have a similar view and their views differ from those of men on male dominated boards.

“Gender diverse boards also believe that their chairs are more effective in several ways.

“Chairs are held in greater esteem for the way they manage boardroom dynamics, act with greater integrity and undertake a more effective decision making process when at the helm of a gender diverse board.

“Integrity of board members is fundamental to the foundation of an effective board. The research uncovered that male dominated boards perceive their colleagues as having a lower degree of integrity than gender diverse boards. Lack of integrity can have a detrimental impact on the board’s effectiveness.

“The alignment between remuneration packages of management and performance is likely to be more closely scrutinised by a gender diverse board. Male dominated boards tend to be less questioning of the appropriateness of remuneration packages.

“This difference is evidenced with only 48% of gender diverse board members being satisfied with the appropriateness of management remuneration packages, while almost two thirds of male dominated board members are satisfied. Gender diverse boards tend to interrogate and to be more vigilant about remuneration packages and performance.

“The research uncovered a large gap between gender diverse and male dominated boards in the clarity of roles and responsibilities. Women directors and therefore gender diverse boards are more likely to require greater clarity of board processes and expected behaviours including requiring appropriate documentation.

“Our research supports other extensive global research which concludes that organisations that have boards with a higher proportion of women are likely to be more effective and have better financial performance.

“We applaud the leadership and supporting initiatives taken by the ASX, AICD and BCA on the issue of gender diversity in senior management and on boards. Westpac and Commonwealth Bank’s leadership in setting targets to move from around 24% to 40% and 35% respectively for women in management by 2014 is also applauded.

To unlock the potential power of diversity in the boardroom and in senior management organisations will need to change their cultures to embrace both genders and deal with unconscious biases that favour men. By embracing women and understanding the value they can add as leaders, Australian organisations will be rewarded with proven results,” said Barnett.

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