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Women in the boardroom

A global perspective - 8th edition

The underrepresentation of women on boards remains a key area of focus for organisations globally, but overall progress remains slow and for women in leadership positions, even slower.

The Deloitte Global Boardroom Program’s Eighth Edition of the Women in the boardroom: A global perspective report includes analysis from 18,000 companies in 50 countries and geographies, exploring gender diversity in the boardroom using insights on the political, social, and legislative trends.  

While continued efforts from businesses, regulators, and society at large have yielded some positive results toward achieving gender parity, accelerated momentum is required.

Highlights include:

  • Australia stands at 12th place overall in this sample with 33.8% of board seats held by women.
  • In terms of Audit Committee Chair roles held by females, Australia ranks eighth globally, demonstrating a notable presence of women in key leadership positions compared to other countries.
  • Over the years, Australia has shown steady progress in gender diversity on boards, increasing from 26% in 2018 to 33.8% in 2023, outpacing the global average rise of 3.6% since 2022.
  • Similarly, the percentage of Australian board chairs that are women has seen a significant growth from 7.1% in 2018 to 13.2% in 2023, indicating a positive trend towards more diverse leadership.
  • When compared to countries with similar economies and populations like Canada (32.5% of board seats held by women) and the United Kingdom (34.1% of board seats held by women), Australia's representation percentages are not far behind.
  • In terms of industry leadership, Australia is excelling, with the financial services sector leading at 38%, slightly surpassing the global figure, and Life Sciences and Healthcare closely following at 37%, indicating a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion within these sectors.

The number of women on large Australian-listed company boards has increased significantly over the last decade from around 15% in 2014 to closer to 35% today—and the number of women acting as audit committee chairs is close to 50%. Despite improvements in board diversity, there is still significant change required to see the percentage of women acting as board chairs mirror the improvement in broader board representation.

- Joanne Gorton, Managing partner, Audit & Assurance, Deloitte Australia

These insights illustrate Australia's progress towards gender diversity in corporate leadership while highlighting how it compares globally, highlighting areas of strength and opportunities for further improvement. I am proud to see that Australia’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is not just a principle but a practice that is yielding results. Our steady rise in gender diversity on boards, reflects our dedication to creating a more inclusive and representative leadership landscape.

Deloitte Australia has collaborated with the 30%+ Club Australia, whose mission is to support the achievement of a minimum of 30% Gender Balance at all senior decision-making tables across Australia, including Boards and c-Suite. Inspired by our February 2022 report, Bold moves in the boardroom - which argues that future fit boards need to broaden their composition to include directors with backgrounds in HR, customer/marketing and digital - the green shoots of change series profiles the recent appointment of non-traditional non-executive directors.

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