In the top 200 companies on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) just a quarter of board positions are currently held by women. In an effort to bring about parity, Australian Ethical’s Chief Investment Officer David Macri is on the Australian Investment Working Group of the Australian chapter of The 30% Club. Here he speaks about the importance of reaching the 30% goal.
“It is really important to Australian Ethical that we formally signed the declarations of The 30% Club. Equality is at the core of what we do – how we run our business, our investment strategy, our advocacy work and so on. Through our company’s Ethical Charter we’ve already committed to engage with our investee companies about this and other ethical issues, so it was a no-brainer for us to pledge to the 30% Club obligations.
“I personally have committed to another year of being on The 30% Club’s working group because I want to do what I can to address the gender imbalance. Any kind of social injustice like this just seems ridiculous to me, and I want to play my part in fixing it. Maybe it’s because I’m from an immigrant family, but I’ve also seen so many benefits from having diversity of thought in the corporate world.
“There’s also a lot of evidence to suggest that gender-diverse boards perform better and make stronger decisions. Businesses that are gender-diverse are five times more likely to profit than their competitors. The same study by McKinsey & Co. from 2018 found that companies with little or no gender diversity are 29% more likely to perform below average. Parity makes absolute sense – it’s not just tackling an archaic way of thinking, it’s better for business.
“One of the actions we’ve taken at Australian Ethical is to initiate proxy voting to support gender diversity on boards. This means we’re always aware whenever any ASX company that doesn’t already have a woman on their board is trying to elect another man. We vote against the resolution.
“The goal of The 30% Club is to achieve 30% of women on ASX200 boards by the end of
2018. Right now that goal isn’t impossible, but it won’t be easy. But the thing is, this is an ongoing campaign until the goal is reached, and even after to ensure it’s maintained or potentially also reflected in the senior executive ranks of management.”
For more information, visit 30percentclub.org/about/chapters/australia.