Australian Boards Now Nearly 30% Female, Without Quotas

When it comes to getting more women on big-company boards, Australia is leading the way. And they’re doing it without quotas.

The report, posted by last week by Australia’s Institute of Company Directors, shows the percentage of women on the boards of the country’s 200 largest companies is edging up on 30% — a gain of more than 10 percentage points since 2015.

That makes it, according to the AICD, “the first country in the world to achieve 30% gender diversity in top 100 boardrooms without regulatory intervention or quotas.”

“In 2018, 45% of all appointments to ASX200 boards were women,” Angus Armour, AICD Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, said in a release, “Which demonstrates that voluntary targets can be effective. Even more satisfying is that for almost half of these women it was their first ASX200 appointment, which is proof that boards are looking beyond the existing talent pool.”

In the U.S. women occupy 22.5% of board seats in Fortune 500 companies, up from 15.7% in 2004 and 25% in Fortune 100 companies, up from 16.9% in 2004, according to a recent Deloitte study.

In 2015, AICD set 30 percent as a target for ASX listed companies, a move embraced by a number of large Australian companies that appears to have paid off.

Not everyone is a fan, though. The report comes amid a political brawl over alleged gender bias in Australian politics, and some say the data simply reflects the same number of women being added to more boards, rather than an influx of new women.