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

10 reasons wealthy homeowners shouldn't receive welfare

The RBA Governor says rising house prices are due to "the design of our taxation and social security systems". The OECD says "the prolonged boom in house prices has inflated the wealth of many pensioners without impacting their pension eligibility." What's your view?

House prices surge but falls are common and coming

We tend to forget that house prices often fall. Direct lending controls are more effective than rate rises because macroprudential limits affect the volume of money for housing leaving business rates untouched.

Survey responses on pension eligibility for wealthy homeowners

The survey drew a fantastic 2,000 responses with over 1,000 comments and polar opposite views on what is good policy. Do most people believe the home should be in the age pension asset test, and what do they say?

100 Aussies: five charts on who earns, pays and owns

Any policy decision needs to recognise who is affected by a change. It pays to check the data on who pays taxes, who owns assets and who earns the income to ensure an equitable and efficient outcome.

Three good comments from the pension asset test article

With articles on the pensions assets test read about 40,000 times, 3,500 survey responses and thousands of comments, there was a lot of great reader participation. A few comments added extra insights.

The sorry saga of housing affordability and ownership

It is hard to think of any area of widespread public concern where the same policies have been pursued for so long, in the face of such incontrovertible evidence that they have failed to achieve their objectives.

Latest Updates

Strategy

$1 billion and counting: how consultants maximise fees

Despite cutbacks in public service staff, we are spending over a billion dollars a year with five consulting firms. There is little public scrutiny on the value for money. How do consultants decide what to charge?

Investment strategies

Two strong themes and companies that will benefit

There are reason to believe inflation will stay under control, and although we may see a slowing in the global economy, two companies will benefit from the themes of 'Stable Compounders' and 'Structural Winners'.

Financial planning

Reducing the $5,300 upfront cost of financial advice

Many financial advisers have left the industry because it costs more to produce advice than is charged as an up-front fee. Advisers are valued by those who use them while the unadvised don’t see the need to pay.

Investment strategies

Slowing global trade not the threat investors fear

Investors ask whether global supply chains were stretched too far and too complex, and following COVID, is globalisation dead? New research suggests the impact on investment returns will not be as great as feared.

Strategy

Many people misunderstand what life expectancy means

Life expectancy numbers are often interpreted as the likely maximum age of a person but that is incorrect. Here are three reasons why the odds are in favor of people outliving life expectancy estimates.

Investment strategies

Wealth doesn’t equal wisdom for 'sophisticated' investors

'Sophisticated investors' can be offered securities without the usual disclosure requirements given to everyday investors, but far more people now qualify than was ever intended. Many are far from sophisticated.

Investment strategies

Is the golden era for active fund managers ending?

Most active fund managers are the beneficiaries of a confluence of favourable events. As future strong returns look challenging, passive is rising and new investors do their own thing, a golden age may be closing.

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.