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It makes financial sense.

After a week of soaking up the TED 2011 conversation in the US – I’m back at the office all fired up for International Women’s Day wondering why there are not more women on boards. Previously I’ve written about the concept of legislation to have 50 per cent of board roles filled by women by 2020 and also the gender imbalance when it comes to equal pay.

Of course, affirmative action has its detractors. A legitimate criticism is that it politicises life chances and focuses blame on race or gender. But when I read studies by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM), that give the principle reason for gender inequality in pay is employers discriminating against women for “simply being female”, something needs to change from the top, from leadership. More women on boards would lead this shift.

How can we expect women to stand up for pay equal to their male counterparts when so few women sit on the boards of large organisations? The number of women who are the founders of serious sized enterprises in Australia is not large. Take a look at the BRW Fast 100 or even the BRW Rich list.

Other differences between men and women such as women’s choices of careers, jobs and work hours, consideration of caring responsibilities, women’s work motivations, bargaining power and appetite for risk, as well as discrimination against women that occurs in the workplace, all impact heavily on the gender pay gap.

NATSEM found that removing the effects of being a woman from the wage gap would increase the average wage of an Australian woman by $1.87 per hour or $3,394 annually. Which means a change from the top could see Australia adding $56 billion or 5.1 per cent to total annual GDP.

It is important as we celebrate this day that we keep agitating for change at the most senior levels. We still have such a long way to go.

Reader Interactions


  1. “There’s no point young women being elected to Parliament in order to pretend they’re middle-aged men.” Kate Ellis just said this on Q and A this evening. This quote resonated with me as I had just finished reading this post. I couldn’t agree more. I believe the best leadership structures value and support true diversity.

  2. I couldn’t agree more whole heatedly Chris, – the whole reason we want women on boards and women in executive roles is to bring another perspective. We need some fundamental change in our community about how we raise children… and as such having women in senior decision making positions we will get to hear a different voice… new perspectives. Thanks for sharing Kate’s quote

  3. More women need to be on Boards because women and men do not think alike and this allows diversity. Women seem to be able to see any pitfalls that lay ahead, better than their male counterparts, they are willing to debate a case for or against a decision in a logical way and have better communication skills to enable a clearer understanding. In short more logical and better able to implement.

    I also believe that there would be less golden handshakes for those incompetent male CEO’s who are shown the door.

    I write to the Board of Directors of the Companies we are invested in if they do not have women on their Board and ask them why, and what are they doing about it and all Investors should be doing the same.

    There are a lot of women in finance today and if they work for managed funds, they should be asking the Boards of Companies the same question.

    A number of small Companies that we have been invested in over the years have had female CEO’s
    and the Company has been taken over by a larger company. Doesn’t that tell all male Board members something. Oh well they are often slow on the uptake.

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