I woke up this morning to another article in the press talking about the lack of women in ASX boardrooms. I don’t know about you, but the rhetoric on this topic has worn pretty thin. The statistics on ASX gender diversity are deceptive and the lack of representation of women in the boardroom is much worse than many realise; there is only a very small talent pool of women represented in the ASX as they often hold multiple board positions. We have a ‘golden skirt’ phenomena in play in Australian listed boardrooms which has been seen in other parts of the world.
But I am genuinely not worried about the true state of play in the listed environments because the privateers of Australia are leading the way. The issues that can be found in the ASX environments are almost completely absent in the private business world and we are also seeing excellent progress in the public sector towards gender parity and diversity in board director appointments.
We see true diversity in board director appointments in private enterprise and it is to a point now where it is usually not even discussed when taking a board search brief, it is a given that the best person for the job will be appointed. The reality is that merit is equally spread between the sexes; hence everyone has an even chance of being appointed to the role. There are simply no barriers for female board director candidates in the private business world. The main reason that ASX boards claim to struggle to appoint more female directors is a lack of experienced candidates and one way to take that argument off the table is to develop solid board experience in the private business community. Ladies it is time to shift your focus away from the ASX and join a private business board.
Pursuing opportunities in the private business world however is certainly not the B-grade game! The private board world encompasses everything from early-stage high potential companies, SME’s, private equity and venture capital backed enterprises, through to significant private businesses and family office environments. Privateers have consistently appointed the ‘best of the best’ to serve on their boards and this is where the real ‘action’ is in the board world today. The appointments are exciting, the business landscape competitive, opportunities here can be very lucrative and this is where next generation board directors can thrive. An added bonus is the lack of red-tape and the strong desire to get things done. Board directors who enjoy being hands-on and making a significant difference to the success of a private enterprise will relish in this environment.
In the past 12 months, as Australia’s top board search consultant, I have placed thousands of board director candidates in the market, mainly into private enterprise and the diversity of candidate we are seeing is truly fantastic. I have never been a huge fan of quota systems, 30% clubs and the like. You shouldn’t have to enforce common business sense. Thankfully the privateers of Australia are leading the way, and in due course I have no doubt that the ASX world will follow the example that is being set by our countries top entrepreneurs and business owners, because eventually everyone realises that you just want the A-team around your boardroom table.
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