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Chief Executive Officer's Address - AICD 2008 EOWA Census launch Sydney

Many thanks Anna. 


It’s a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to the Australian Institute of Company Directors and to be part of the launch of the 2008 Australian Women in Leadership Census. 


To be quite frank, after talking about ANZ’s Annual Results and the global financial crisis with analysts and investors for most of the last week, I’m actually very pleased to have the opportunity to speak about a different subject. 


Although the topic I was originally asked to talk about was board diversity, I am going to take the opportunity to talk more broadly about diversity and to offer a few observations. 


For those who know me, some of these observations may be characteristically direct and a little controversial.


This is not just about being blunt but I think it’s important we have a robust conversation because sadly, on issues like diversity I’m concerned that we have a lot of nice words and platitudes but insufficient action.


And in the absence of meaningful progress, that’s building cynicism rather than belief. 


The results of today’s Australian Women in Leadership Census only serve to reinforce this. 


Many of you will have seen the results but let me give you a few highlights from the score card. 

  • The proportion of women to men on ASX 200 boards has gone backwards since the last Census in 2006.
  • In 2008, women chaired only four boards and held little more than 8% of board directorships.
  • Australia now ranks behind the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Africa on the representation of women on boards.


Anna quite correctly described the pace at which women are being appointed to executive and board positions in Australia as ‘glacial’.


Well, the truth is its worse - these results are not an indicator of progress - they are an indication something is not working. 

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