On Wednesday 13th September, leaders from the non-executive community across the country joined Odgers Berndtson at Deloitte’s Sydney office for the International Board Insights event. The event featured presentations from our keynote speakers, Mr Kester Scrope CEO Odgers Berndtson, and Dr Vanessa Guthrie.

Mr Scrope reflected on the UK’s progress on women representation on boards without using quotas. Drawing on the recent Deloitte Women in the Boardroom: A Global Perspective report, he shared that every FTSE 100 company has at least one woman on the Board and there have been increases in the number of women non-executive directors on the Boards of FTSE 250 companies. Mr Scrope also shared the recommendations of the Lord Davies independent review of women on boards, an initiative commissioned by the UK government in 2011. The review resulted in a recommendation that FTSE 100 companies aim for at least a 25% representation of women on boards in 2015. A wonderful outcome to share as this target was achieved. Mr Scrope reflected, as Lord Davies did, that further work and a renewed focus on key boardroom appointments is still needed, in particular given that Lord Davies’ successors Sir Philip Hampton and Dame Helen Alexander have now called for a voluntary target of 33% women directors serving on FTSE 350 boards by 2020 to ensure this momentum continues in the future.

Dr Guthrie then led a comprehensive presentation focusing on women in boardrooms, also exploring the route to the boardroom, in particular the importance of STEM expertise around the board table and the way to achieve true diversity. Dr Guthrie is a highly accomplished CEO and Director with a career spanning thirty years in the resources sector, in diverse roles across gold, base metals, aluminium, oil and gas and uranium projects and operations. She has qualifications in geology, environment, law and business management including a PhD in Geology. She was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science from Curtin University in 2017 for her contribution to sustainability, innovation and policy leadership in the resources industry.

Ultimately, the message of the evening was that good progress has been made across Australian companies to address, in part, the historical bias that has worked to exclude women from senior executive roles, and following on from that, non-executive roles. There was agreement across the room that we still have a way to go to achieve our diversity targets and boards have a responsibility to take a truly holistic approach to director succession, in particular getting the line managers and senior management team balance right. Strengthening and broadening talent pipelines that give women real opportunities to achieve their true potential are critical to effect positive change.

With thanks to Mr Richard Deutsch, Managing Partner Assurance & Advisory, Margaret Dreyer a member of the Board of Deloitte Australia and the Global Steering Committee for Inspiring Women, and their Deloitte colleagues who hosted us for the evening, as well as Mr Kester Scrope and Dr Vanessa Guthrie for their thought leadership.

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