Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 357

Bigger companies have more females on their boards

Bigger companies are materially better than smaller companies at improving gender diversity on boards. The relationship is linear. The largest 10% of companies, ranked by market capitalisation, have on average 35% of board members being female while the smallest 10% barely reach 10%.

OpenDirector tracks 412 listed companies, analysing the composition and performance of boards. The database also includes the directors and executives of 64 superannuation funds and 30 large government entities.

The results showing declining female representation on smaller company boards is obvious in the chart below.

 

Difficulty assessing a link to performance

There are many likely reasons why larger companies are more active in promoting women to boards.

Smaller company boards are often close-knit, smaller in director numbers and comprising of the company’s executives, original founders and even family.

Fewer women on smaller company boards has a material effect on academic work which investigates whether female directors or boards with higher female representation improve company shareholder returns. It is much harder for large companies like CBA (55% female board representation) or CSL (44%) to double in size than smaller companies like AfterPay (14%) or Magellan (14%). While a more worthwhile topic is the overall board diversity, it is interesting how often the gender issue alone becomes a centre of debate.

OpenDirector analyses the performance of directors and, by default, has an aggregate index of how female directors compare to male directors. Our individual director analysis is theoretically robust in that we create total return indices for each company adjusted for company sector and size. At this stage, our preliminary data indicates that female directors do not outperform their male counterparts.

Our reluctance to publish detailed results is because bias still exists in this area. Female representation is higher in established companies than new entrepreneurial companies. If work is to be done on improving female representation on boards, a good place to start may well be increasing women on start-ups and private equity IPOs. This point is known to the experts.

Interestingly, female representation on boards is reasonably consistent across sectors. While representation is slightly lower in more ‘blokey’ industries like energy, industries and minerals, it is not glaringly so. Utilities appear to have low representation, but there are few companies in this sector.

Female representation on boards is increasing but still low. Of the 324 directors who were appointed in the last 12 months in our database, 118 or 36% were female. While increasing the average number of women on boards, these are not exceptional growth rates. As today’s CEOs become tomorrow’s directors, perhaps the more concerning statistics is that of the 34 new CEOs appointed to boards, only three were women.

 

Donald Hellyer is Director of OpenDirector and CEO of the development company BigFuture.

 

 

RELATED ARTICLES

Why investment stewardship matters for long-term investors

Julie Bishop on leaders, life, Liberals and libertines

Are Australian bank boards fit for purpose?

banner

Most viewed in recent weeks

Stop treating the family home as a retirement sacred cow

The way home ownership relates to retirement income is rated a 'D', as in Distortion, Decumulation and Denial. For many, their home is their largest asset but it's least likely to be used for retirement income.

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 433 with weekend update

There’s this story about a group of US Air Force generals in World War II who try to figure out ways to protect fighter bombers (and their crew) by examining the location of bullet holes on returning planes. Mapping the location of these holes, the generals quickly come to the conclusion that the areas with the most holes should be prioritised for additional armour.

  • 11 November 2021

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 431 with weekend update

House prices have risen at the fastest pace for 33 years, but what actually happened in 1988, and why is 2021 different? Here's a clue: the stockmarket crashed 50% between September and November 1987. Looking ahead, where did house prices head in the following years, 1989 to 1991?

  • 28 October 2021

Why has Australia slipped down the global super ranks?

Australia appears to be slipping from the pantheon of global superstar pension systems, with a recent report placing us sixth. A review of an earlier report, which had Australia in bronze position, points to some reasons why, and what might need to happen to regain our former glory.

How to help people with retirement spending decisions

Super funds will soon be required to offer retirement income strategies for members in decumulation. With uncertain returns, uncertain timelines, and different goals, it's possibly “the hardest, nastiest problem in finance".

Tips when taking large withdrawals from super

You want to take a lump sum from your super, but what's the best way? Should it come from you or your spouse, or the pension or accumulation account. There is a welcome flexibility to select the best outcome.

Latest Updates

Interviews

John Woods on diversification using asset allocation

All fund managers now claim to take ESG factors into account, but a multi-asset ethical fund will look quite different from a mainstream fund. Faced with low fixed income returns, alternatives have a bigger role.

SMSF strategies

Don't believe the SMSF statistics on investment allocation

The ATO's data on SMSF asset allocation is as much as 27 months out-of-date and categories such as cash and global investments are reported incorrectly. We should question the motives of some who quote the numbers.

Investment strategies

Highlights of reader tips for young investors

In this second part on the reader responses with advice to younger people, we have selected a dozen highlights, but there are so many quality contributions that a full list of comments is also attached.

Investment strategies

Four climate themes offer investors the next big thing

Climate-related companies will experience exponential growth driven by consumer demand and government action. Investors who identify the right companies will benefit from four themes which will last decades.

Investment strategies

Inflation remains transitory due to strong long-term trends

There is momentum to stop calling inflation 'transitory' but this overlooks deep-seated trends. A longer-term view will see companies like ARB, Reece, Macquarie Telecom and CSL more valuable in a decade.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure and the road to recovery

Infrastructure assets experienced varying fortunes during the pandemic, from less travel at airports to strong activity in communications. On the road to recovery, what role does infrastructure play in a portfolio?

Economy

The three prices that everyone should worry about

Among the myriad of numbers that bombard us every day, three prices matter greatly to the world economy. Recent changes in these prices help to understand the potential for a global recovery and interest rates.

Shares

Why green hydrogen is central to achieving net zero

Hundreds of green hydrogen projects show this energy opportunity is finally being taken seriously. While a cost disadvantage and technical challenges need to be overcome, it promises to deliver a path to net zero.

Sponsors

Alliances

© 2021 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer
The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.

Website Development by Master Publisher.