GovernWith Blog

GovernWith blog for Boards, Directors and Executives who want to develop their governance capabilities so they achive their strategic goals and mitigate risk

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Bri Mahony

Diversity photo

Empowering diversity on your Board (and Executive)

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) have been words ever present when talking about organisational culture and workforce, particularly in the last year. In Australian organisations, initiatives for DEI aim to guarantee representation and inclusive treatment of diverse workforces. These efforts strive against discrimination linked to race, gender, age, sexuality, and other minorities. Australian companies are increasingly embedding DEI into their operational frameworks by adopting detailed policies, conducting training programs, and collaborating with a variety of community groups. This approach is fostering a more inclusive corporate environment nationwide, but what about for our boards? 
Celebrating its tenth year, the Board Diversity Index* stands as the exclusive in-depth analysis of Australian boards. It surveys the top 300 ASX listed companies, focusing on gender, cultural background, age, skills/experience, tenure, and independence. While providing no data in relation to the not-for-profit space, we could assume the findings wouldn’t be too dissimilar. 
Though there has been some progress, especially in the number of board positions held by women, in many areas there has been no progress made at all, if not a decline. 
The average age of a Board Member is still over 60 with a rapid current wane in directors under 50, there is no data on directors who are disabled, racial diversity remains under 10% with even less representation of First Nations Peoples, and the LGBTQIA+ Community had 4 openly identified directors total. 
These findings are staggering. In Australia 42% of people who identify as LGBTQIA+* hide their identity at work and community events, 1 in 5 people in Australia have a disability*, 30.7% of the Australian population were born overseas*. When asking the question of their stakeholders, “Do they see themselves represented within our Board and Executive?”, many organisations simply need to answer no.  
Corporate, sector and professional skills are fundamental when it comes to looking at a board’s capabilities and being assured the members reflect a make-up of people with strategic oversight in all required responsibilities. When viewing this through a contemporary governance lens - a diverse range of lived experiences, community engagement and societal perspectives are also, unequivocally, essential. 

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