Bill's Media Releases

Improving gender balance on superannuation boards

The Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation has today announced the Gillard Government will provide $150,000 towards a program for improving the gender balance on superannuation boards.

The Super Springboard Program for women will be run by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) in conjunction with Women in Super (WIS) and will provide a scholarship program. 

Mr Shorten said the program will enable qualified women to accelerate the acquisition of superannuation specific knowledge and board related skills, whist providing mentoring support.

The Boardroom Diversity Index 2012, published by Women on Boards, shows women currently represent 21.8 per cent of members of superannuation trustee boards.  While this compares favourably with 13.9 per cent of director positions for ASX 200 companies, the superannuation industry is committed to continuing to improve gender diversity on boards.

“I am an absolute believer in the march of women through Australia’s workforce, our institutions and our boardrooms – our country can only get better the more women participate at its highest levels, be it in politics , business, sports, our universities, our military,” Mr Shorten said. 

 “I congratulate the AIST, who has set a target of having 40 per cent of board positions held by women by 2017.”

“A number of funds have already joined this “40 per cent club”, including  AGEST Super, HESTA, Australian Catholic Super and Retirement Fund, the NT Government Public Authorities’ Superannuation,  Super SA, Tasplan, Telstra Super, Health Industry Plan and IAG & NRMA Superannuation Plan. I encourage more funds to make a pledge to join the 40 per cent club.”

AIST is also calling for public disclosure of the board’s achievement against its measurable gender objectives as well as the proportion of women on their board, in senior management positions, and employed throughout the company. 

The benefits of diversity in superannuation boards are recognised across the superannuation industry, and the Financial Services Council will include a new board diversity policy in its superannuation governance standard.  From 1 July 2013 FSC members will need to develop and implement a board diversity policy with measurable objectives for achieving gender diversity.  Both the policy and the assessment will need to be disclosed via the companies’ websites.

Diversity – particularly in leadership - is important.  Organisations with better gender balance tend to have more inclusive cultures that optimise the skills and contributions of all their employees.  I welcome these measures – and the fact that AIST and the FSC are working together to improve gender diversity in superannuation boards right across the industry. 

Mr Shorten’s Media Contact: Jessica Lindell 0408 642 804